Hwyl Nofio: DARK
Hwyl Nofio loosely translates from Welsh as “emotional swimmers”, and that core of emotion centres on one musician, Steve Parry (born 1958 in Pontypool, S. Wales). A classically trained guitarist and composer, Parry’s career in music spans nearly three decades, encompassing threads that reach back as far as the post-punk movement and as far forward to the prevailing drone/doom scene within contemporary underground music. Although the brooding soundscapes of Hwyl Nofio are solitary in conception, Parry works with a team of close collaborators that includes Mark Beazley (from avant-garde luminaries Rothko), Gorwel Owen (producer/musician of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci), Sandor Szabo (Hungarian avant-garde guitarist) Danish experimental Fractal guitarist Frederik Soegaard and Trevor Stainsby.
Each project is wrought from a relentless collective energy, producing such remarkable results as “Hymnal” (2002) an evocative treatise on religious symbolism, “Hounded by Fury”, a mordant assemblage of instrumental starkness, and the arresting guitar tonality of Parry and Soegaard’s joint release “Off the Map” (2007). Parry defines Hwyl Nofio as “cathartic in the sense that it is based on personal understanding of an explicit time and place”, and each release bears the weight of pure emotion and expression; a catharsis surges from within each of them like a longed-for crashing wave.
The latest album from Hwyl Nofio is entitled “DARK”, and dares to occupy a space beyond the temporal and the spatial. Instead it evokes a landscape wrought from personal experience, magnifying its visual and aural dialogues so that it transcends the specifics of its origin. Parry provides tangible evidence of this landscape in an accompanying book that inculcate the listener into a world of chilling folk myths and the resonances of family histories, as well as timely references to the forgotten legacies of Jane Arden and Bruce Chatwin. Their extraordinary work, commemorated in “Anticlock” and “On the Black Hill” respectively, acts as markers for the road less travelled, indicating divergent routes throughout the album that lead to ever more surprising vantage points. Its alien minimalist fields of sound are the result of a long gestating vista, both moulded and misshapen; its symbols are disorienting in their familiarity, the sensory impact resides in the intrigue of the ordinary. In its midst, you are without compass, but are also without fear. Its intimacy swallows you whole.