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Gorky's Zygotic Mynci

Along with compatriots the Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci has spent the '90s proving that there is such a thing as Welsh rock music. Actually, Gorky's has been around since the mid '80s, when a group of college students in Carmathen, Wales embarked on a bedroom recording project that turned into a career. After a number of LPs in Wales, the band increased its international presence with its first American release, Introducing Gorky's Zygotic Mynci (1996). They followed that with Barfuddle (1997), Spanish Dance Troupe (1999), and The Blue Trees (2000).

On each successive effort, Gorky's continues to brew up its delightful blend of hippie neo-psychedelia, mixing melodic songcraft with wacky eccentricity to create a totally engrossing and unique musical experience. Acoustic guitars dance with mourning fiddles under thin, pure harmonies, occasionally punctuated by languid brass, gentle pianos, and haunting woodwinds -- or by quirky keyboards and miscellaneous chants, hoots, and hollers. It's remarkably distinctive music that eschews conventionality in favor of something much more emotionally immediate, and something that's somehow profoundly Welsh. Sometimes Gorky's sounds like an egoless Belle and Sebastian on copious quantities of psychotropic drugs -- and it's a sound that will make you want to laugh and make you want to dance. Sometimes the band sounds like a less self-indulgent and less suicidal Nick Drake. In fact, there's a lot of sadness and melancholy running through their records, but it's never oppressive, in large part because it's embroidered with so much whimsical nonsense, and expressed through lyrics that are like nursery rhymes for grown-ups. As wistful and lonesome as some of the songs are, they are also richly populated with vital bursts of sunshine.

"Spanish Dance Troupe," the title track from their 1999 album, is a quixotic masterpiece of melody and caprice, a strange little fairy tale that luminously articulates the band's unique cultural and musical location. "Face Like Summer," from the Blue Trees mini-LP, is a perfect piece of forlorn folk-pop. Simply put, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci is one of the finest and most delightfully quirky bands in the business today. It's a shame more people haven't heard them yet, and one can only hope that will change in the years to come.