“Oh lord, give me rhythm and vision I’ll survive,” sings Gwilym Gold on ‘Flesh Freeze’, his debut solo single since leaving pop band Golden Silvers a year and a half ago. Except it’s not really a single as such, more a multiple but more on that in a minute. Either way, his new music is rapturous: rich with texture, alive with detail. There’s a pastoral quality to ‘Flesh Freeze’ that recalls The Beta Band, a hint of something languidly psychedelic in forthcoming album tracks ‘Everything Is Beautiful’ and ‘Tender Metal’ that resonates with Connan Mockasin and, of course, echoes of Golden Silvers via Gwilym’s fairytale spinning voice. These are lush songs; spellbinding sonnets for summer days, for stretched out toes in tickly grass, for absorbing moments that float on and on. With that vision of motion in mind, Gwilym hasn’t just written new songs but also dreamt up a new way of listening to them, expanding the idea of aleatoric or chance music to create a new format that makes the MP3 look a touch archaic. In a nutshell, he and producer Lexxx – who Gwilym calls a “sonic buccaneer” – have created a player called Bronze that never plays a song the same way twice. The result is somewhere between a recording and a live experience, with Bronze eliciting a different performance of each song every time it plays – calling to mind both the folk tradition of the past and the imagined machines of the future in JG Ballard’s Vermillion Sands. It’s also currently the only way their music can be played, which is a bold move. “We just feel it’s the best way of presenting the music. It is quite a risk really but we felt it was a risk worth taking because that’s what we’ve created and that’s what we want people to hear. It’s not a tag-on or an additional thing; the only reason it comes in that form is that we had to build our own format to facilitate the music we wanted to make,” he explains one sunny lunchtime in a studio on London’s Hackney Road. Why? “Since we’ve put more music into Bronze, listening back to the static bounces just doesn’t feel the same. To us, it feels different. It’s really hard to say why…” His voice trails off before offering shyly: “It’s got an eternal quality because it exists in motion; it doesn’t exist in stasis.” He’s right; you can feel that. It is alive. It lives, it grows – both in your memory and in the moment. Whilst each listen breeds familiarity, an edge of unfamiliarity is also ever-present meaning and with it that magic quality of freshness. “I have a level of control over the possibilities but it puts the music at the mercy of something beyond the artist,” says Gwilym. “It’s a kind of a different role for the artist because you’re not setting the final thing; you’re setting something in motion and hoping. You can’t be too precious about it; you just have to hope your song is going to survive.” The songs do more than survive; they flourish. “Everything is beautiful / seen through new eyes,” he sings on ‘Everything Is Beautiful’. There’s a whole lot of truth in that. Whether or not he’s the new Eno is yet to be seen, but the world Gwilym Gold is dreaming up feels alive with possibility.
Edited version published in Dazed & Confused, July 2011 issue