Ceredwen's debut CD features a very unique interpretation of Celtic myth and legend. Unique it may be, but also very popular as this album stayed on the Billboard New Age Chart for three months. So what is the magical sound that appealed to so many?
Well, it's, um, unique. Setting original Welsh lyrics to rather techno-dance music beats, they have created a whole new genre: techno-Welsh!
While this may not sound like something you would ordinarily hunt for, hunt I did! They have done something truly different, and it's great listening. Each of the songs is based on a story from the body of Welsh mythology, which was compiled during the medieval age and is known as The Mabinogion in English. The album itself follows the layout of a storytelling session, starting with an invitation to enter the realm of the Celtic "Otherworld," followed by eight tales told more or less in chronological order. This is fairly appropriate given that Ceredwen takes its name from the Celtic goddess of inspiration, who is also the mother of Taliesin, King Arthur's bard.
Each of the songs has a paragraph of explanation, the Welsh lyrics and an English translation. The lyrics booklet is quite interesting due to all the detail in descriptions and in the small original paintings depicting a portion of each story.
Even knowing almost no Welsh, a sense of the epic nature of the tales is evident. Following the invitation can be found the myth of Matholwch and Branwen, and the ensuing uprising, the story of Llew's flower bride, the Celtic tradition of "a year and a day," the fall of Llew and, finally, the story of Rhianon declaring her love to the Prince of Dyfed. Using ancient Welsh musical techniques on modern electrical and acoustic instruments, there is a quality of ancientness to the music. At times it is very electric which can be borderline unpleasant.
Renee Gray, who provides all the vocals, is a native Welsh speaker and also the possessor of a lovely voice. Gray, besides singing, acts as lyricist and melody composer. Andrew Fryer played the various instruments, which were then sampled and combined. The combination of talents is worth finding as this is Celtic mythology as never before.
This album is recommended for those with a sense of adventure.
by Jean Emma Price
O'r Mabinogi is a new-age music lover's delight! Ceredwen, a Celtic band consisting of Andrew Fryer and Renee Gray, in 1997 created a lasting masterpiece for the world of Celtic music.
Enchanting melodies coupled with the haunting vocals of Gray, completely in Welsh, made this CD an instant hit. The uplifting melodies accentuate the trance-like beat and make the listener want to sing and dance.
While the beat may be too modern for some listeners of Celtic music, the instruments used are traditional, not electronic.
While listening to the opening hit "Yng Ngolau Ddydd/In the Light of the Day," the listener can feel the warm, gentle caresses of the morning light as the sun awakens from its slumber. In "Blwyddyn I Heno/A Year from This Night," listeners are invited to join in the dance and celebrate the passage of time as days turn into months and years pass.
This music is perfect for yoga, meditation or even as "study music" for the serious student. Two thumbs way up!!
by Marina Urman