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Baker's Dozen

Found In Translation: Gwenno's Baker's Dozen
Ronnie Angel Pope , June 8th, 2022 11:00

Covering all things psychogeography and domesticity, Gwenno talks Ronnie Angel Pope through the albums that capture the atmosphere of the places and communities that matter to her


Young Marble Giants - Colossal Youth

I first heard Young Marble Giants in my twenties, but when I came back to Cardiff, it really resonated. What I find interesting about Cardiff is how much it changes. Whenever I think or write songs about Cardiff, it is never the Cardiff that I’m living in now. But Young Marble Gi-ants create an atmosphere of a Cardiff that I know very well. Obviously, this record was made in the early ‘80s, but for me, it conjures the feeling of Cardiff in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, when people were still leaving in their droves because there wasn’t any work. It was a post-industrial city and there wasn’t the investment, or the neoliberal horror, that has since taken place. It’s a changing city because it’s a growing city, though, and you’ve got to accept that.

People who live in rural areas might have the same view of the mountains or the sea forever. So many Welsh poets write about mountains, and you can go there and have exactly the same experience of that mountain as they had— the view won’t have changed. But the Cardiff that Young Marble Giants talk about doesn’t exist anymore.

I love the emptiness of Colossal Youth — the confidence in the simplicity of the in-strumentation and Alison’s voice, which is just uncompromisingly non-aggressive, musing, nonchalant, and very direct. There’s something very Protestant about the way that she does it. I admire that in singers and I’m not too keen on warblers.

I remember reading Karl Hyde from Underworld on being in Cardiff at that same time, and how striking it was to see Young Marble Giants play. Everyone was in a punk band then, but they just came out with an uncompromising calmness. The clarity of the album makes it bril-liant and it will always make me think of Cardiff in the ‘80s, when it was raining all the time and there were lots of murders.