“I was going to begin this review with a glib comment about the origins of the two protagonists who make up Cwtch (pronounced Cootch), Paul Foster and Marie Craven; something along the lines of Welsh wizards and Aussie Pixies: Paul Foster is the Welsh electronic artist Dementio13 and Marie Craven is the Australian singer Pixieguts. Perhaps, I thought to myself, it might be a good way of expressing the fact that these two musicians live on opposite sides of the globe. But, as I listened to their album, such ribald introductions seemed inappropriate.
Cwtch’s eponymously titled debut album is rich in musical detail and layered with an emotional content deftly and subtly expressed. This is electronic music as close and personal expression, where Paul Foster’s gritty synth textures and beats act as a foil to the vulnerable beauty of Marie Craven’s vocals. A wistfulness threads its way through the album, treading lightly as it goes, never collapsing into self indulgence. This is an album of tight musical control, where each sound has its place and tracks are never allowed meander on to pointless conclusions. Cohesive and mature, it is clear that, despite their geographical separation, Marie and Paul have developed a working relationship that is intimate and rigorous, one which demands only the best from the material they produce. To focus on the mechanics of this collaboration is, however, to do a disservice to this project. Cwtch have produced an album of uneasy beauty, one that, while being a delight to listen to, has the capacity to move the listener quietly and in surprising ways.
From the urgent arpeggio driven explorations of modern neuroses in Fragility, to the slow marching melancholia and musings on mortality (or not) of Of Worms, you will find an album whose intent is both oblique and articulate. This journey from clarity to opacity serves to make this an album that functions on many levels and invites the listener to stop and think.
One track to hear now: Fragility“