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Opening up new frontiers; 9Bach make Australian connection.

INTERVIEW ALTHOUGH easy to dismiss amid more obvious Rolf Harris fare, Sun Arise was a completely earnest, and quite serious, attempt to represent traditional Australian music. According to Harris, those he was trying to imitate would repeat a phrase over and over again until it became memorising. Like drone music almost.

At one time, though, the song's B-side was a track named Someone''s Pinched Me Winkles. Normal service was resumed. There are no such mistakes from Bethesda group 9Bach.

"The whole idea of life and music over there is connections," explains singer Lisa Jen Brown.

She and guitarist Martin Hoyland travelled over to Australia to spend a month with members of The Black Arm Band, a collective of indigenous singers and musicians.

"We're still not entirely sure how it came about, we were approached by The Black Arm Band. They were working on a project for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad," she says.

"They did their research I guess and found us. I think they feel a connection with the Welsh, with the fact that they're struggling and trying to keep their native language alive."

9Bach, since forming in 2005, have plied their trade reworking Welsh language folk songs. Their dedication to tradition was one The Black Arm Band felt some affinity with. It is a cliche to say music is an art form that transcends all other social barriers. But cliches are so because they are always rooted in truth.

"DVDs of their shows were very powerful but we could not quite get it until we got over there," Brown continues. "We would ask questions beforehand and their response would always be: 'No, it'll be alright.' "It was not 100% as you would expect, like playing with didgeridoo and sticks. It's very much a band environment.

"When we got there we just sat in a room and created. Lou Bennett [of The Black Arm Band] had a guitar, Martin had a guitar and I had a piano. We just jammed."

The lasting effect of the sessions has been near profound on Brown: "I was just so inspired out there. In the past I'd had a bit of a block in writing, by the end I was almost vomiting songs.

"I've written about eight, now. I was on a journey on my own in some way."

The result of the sessions were two songs, an original, Cariad Mam, and 9Bach contributing to the aboriginal song Big Law. Both are heady and atmospheric. They fill your subconscious like a dense smoke.

"We incorporated them into a live show we performed in Castlemaine. Four Aboriginal singers joined us and sang in Welsh. Their language is beautiful - really soft and melodic but it is easy for them to say Welsh words. I then featured in Big Law, singing a verse in Welsh."

The Black Arm Band will be coming to the UK for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. During that time 9Bach hope to invite them up for shows in North Wales. You can hear the collaboration at soundcloud.com/gwion23.

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The band 9Bach, with singer Lisa Jen Brown in the foreground
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 25, 2011
Words:520
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