Six years ago, I was reeling from a lot of bad dreams and broken promises. I had a collection of songs that I had been writing and I wanted to go somewhere different to record them. My immediate thought was to go back to Palestine, where I had been in 2013, a trip which had inspired a lot of the material. I made a few inquiries, barked up a few wrong trees, and ended up frustrated.
So I ended up in the back room of a house I’d just moved into in Splott, Cardiff, surrounded by makeshift sound treatment a.k.a old duvets hanging from the walls and some knackered recording equipment. It was about as basic as you can get. But when things start to roll, they start to roll.
The songs just poured out, one after another. A veritable army of bass players trooped in to fatten up the sound. I managed to borrow a banjo secretly from a local squat for a few days to add some colour, (the owner didn’t know – it was ok, I was very careful!) And then out of the ether, a friend came by and added some haunting oud to one of the tracks. Sometimes you don’t need to travel far once you realise the answers are right in front of you.
The songs were the result of seeing people’s dreams brutally snatched and smashed to smithereens at the hands of an occupying force. But as I listened back, they also seemed to be speaking about glimpses of possible future. Sometimes again, they seemed to be laced with the stories from my father about the devastation of Hungary after the war, when the fascists had been cleared out, and the communists were lining up and waiting their turn.
Hiraeth (noun) – a Welsh word that doesn’t translate well into English. A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.
But above all, they spoke to me of those hidden places where love is still throbbing, and therefore hope. The sort of thing you need when everything around you is trying to shut hope down. As always, it’s all about finding the positive in there.
Stream / buy the album here: https://cosmoinnit.bandcamp.com/album/hiraeth