From North Wales, 9Bach is a contemporary folk band formed in 2005 by singer-songwriter Lisa Jên and guitar player Martin Hoyland. Following up on a first self-titled collection of traditional folk songs in 2009, always singing in the Welsh language and featuring seven new compositions, one traditional song and two local poem adaptations, the band’s new LP Tincian was released in May 2014 last on the Real World record label.
If acoustic guitar, harp (Esyllt Glyn Jones), piano, percussions or vocal techniques (with Mirain Roberts) all point to a Traditional and Folk line up, the addition of drums (Ali Byworth), electric and bass guitar (Dan Swain), Fender Rhodes, harmonium or glockenspiel clearly shifts the band’s sound towards indie rock, ambient music and trip-hop.
What really sets 9Bach apart is the unique tone, inflections and musicality of Lisa Jên’s native Welsh:
For us, writing and singing in Welsh is the most normal thing to do, it’s instinctive. We’ve had a few queries and comments asking why do we sing in Welsh when we could make more money singing in English. The answer is Welsh is my first language… my creative brain and ideas swim in the small streams that run into the crystal clear lakes – LLyn Idwal, Llyn Ogwen, the Ogwen Valley. I can’t escape that, it’s in you if you’ve been breathing this air since forever. Real World Records
Inspired by the “mountainous, mining landscape of Gerlan and Bethesda”, local lore or by the rich choral tradition of Wales (“Ffarwél”), Lisa Jên’s lyrics also explore real human stories from further afield – a song like “Plentyn” was inspired by the Aboriginal child removal policies which were enforced in Australia for most of the 20th century while “Asteri Mou” has Greek lyrics.
Epitomizing the crossover appeal of the Ambient Folk sound of 9Bach, four songs from Tincian (“Asteri Mou”, “Pa Le?”, “Wedi Torri” and “Lliwiau”) were “warped” and remixed by Gruff Rhys, Welsh Electro duo Carcharorion, Sir Doufus Styles or Nick Talbot (RIP 1977 – 2014) aka Gravenhurst respectively and released last November as the Tinc EP on Real World Records. The EP also features a reprise of “Bwthyn Fy Nain” from the band’s début album.
With haunting songs and urban beats echoing a unique landscape, 9Bach offer a wonderful contemporary take on a living tradition.