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Baker's Dozen

Cosmic Portals: Gruff Rhys' Favourite Albums
Colm McAuliffe , January 23rd, 2019 11:42

Ahead of his gig at the Camden Roundhouse this week, Gruff Rhys waxes lyrical about 13 favourite records, deep cuts from the Welsh language underground and beyond


Gal Costa - India
The more I read about the Tropicalia movement, the more it influenced me. I admired the way they worked against a military dictatorship. The official artists, playwrights and poets got together and put on full-on shows rather than just play gigs. They'd put on theatrical events with a theme or have a provocative backdrop that would get them arrested! It's a portal into so many worlds, like when Rogério Duprat had been studying with Stockhausen in Germany and bringing this back to Brazil, Can would also have influenced him in Germany and maybe someone like Cornelius Cardew who was like a British outpost. There's an amazing story about Cardew touring when he eventually turned against Stockhausen and wanted to bring his music to the people. He decided to tour the Isle of Anglesey in 1970 with the Scratch Orchestra and he got kids throwing stones at him during his gigs.

Anyway, they ended up recording a few records in Brazil and this is one I play quite a lot, especially a song called 'Relance'. It's a few years after the Tropicalia explosion but Costa comes across really powerfully; it's like the artwork almost points to the Slits artwork but a few years beforehand. She comes across like a really powerful personality and there's a really unusual musicality on the record. This song ['Relance'] has a really heavy rhythm but it's driven by an accordion, which I usually find really off-putting but it seems to make sense here.