Friday, November 09, 2007

The Grove

Was over at Jacob's Antiques Market today where - up on the top floor - I found an exhibition of Welsh-language record sleeves by Peter Finnemore entitled The Grove.

It's great. The assemblage functions as an historical record (forgive the pun) of Welsh pop music. It's also a veritable feast of Welsh kitsch (a strangely critically neglected aspect of our popular culture). And in the arrangement and designs of the sleeves themselves has its own innate aesthetic appeal.

The top floor at Jacob's is also where they film Welsh-language music prog Bandit so while you're up there you can have a wander around the set and generally have a good snoop about.

One of the record sleeves on display is Caneuon Serch Y Pelydrau by Y Pelydrau (The Rays). Funnily enough I bought this very record myself a couple of years back from a charity shop in Roath. To be honest the music is pretty banal but the cover is great. It shows the group in matching folky outfits juxtaposed against the sinister backdrop of the Trawsfynydd nuclear power station.

Given that the record was released in 1967 you'd have thought that it was an ironic comment on the imposition of a nuclear power plant on Welsh soil. Or an anti-nuclear protest. However there is no critical dimension to the work whatsoever (that I can detect). In fact, one of the girls in the band was employed at Trawsfynydd and the record appears to be an homage to the nuclear power plant itself. Weird.

You can check out the peculiar wonders of The Grove over the next couple of days (November 9-11) as part of the Swn Festival.