The Celtic Cornish language characterised the culture of the South West of the United Kingdom from the ninth to the twelfth century. It is commonly known as the ancient language of Cornwall, spoken by a few thousand people and recognised in the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
In the first decade of our century a British female band, The Pipettes, swang relaxed to the sixties rhythm, among polka dots and collegiate organs. They joked a lot, unlike music journalists who, immersed in frenetic dietrologies, bothered the great swindle of rock ‘n’ roll organized by Malcolm McLaren and his Sex Pistols.
The girls stayed afloat for a while, lightly meandering between the waves of punk revival and independent garage rock of the beginning of the century, but Gwenno Saunders felt the need to leave. Maybe this was the same feeling of restlessness that Green Gartside of the Scritti Politti felt in the hectic 80’s, the same need to escape the discomfort of success and go back to her origins.
Gwenno is the daughter of the poet and journalist Tim Saunders, and decides to go back to discover her roots, and – after a dive into the pop of the dominant culture – rinse her clothes in the Cornish tradition, in the family and in a sense of reassuring belonging that has always characterized the customs of minority cultures. She shows a genuine disinterest, in good faith, towards any misunderstandings of public pride, which would deviate her path towards independentist drifts that are absolutely alien to her personality.
An album on Heavenly Recording, “Le Kov” is released: sparkling sounds, flickering and bittersweet snapshots, kraut rhythms, ambient sounds, melancholic easy-listening, they all find political asylum in this no-man’s land, despite the hard (for us Latins) inflection of the Cornish language, that enriches this record with exotic charm.
It is very difficult to identify a musical element that has been deliberately excluded from this project; the strong, inclusive nature in terms of sonority permeates the whole work, all around the Cornish moors, its myths, the ancient rituals of which few today hold the secret traces
The intimacy that reaches “Le Kov” reminds me of feelings experienced while listening to the historical album Rock Bottom by Robert Wyatt, who was inspired by the foggy and solitary scenery of Giudecca in Venice.
These same places were the stage for the piercing short story by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Appointment”, for Gwenno it is “a place in memory” (translation of “Le Kov” album title), a beach never too far to reach if you keep the attitude to go to the heart of things, behind the illusory veil of phenomena.