Welsh post-punk three-piece Adwaith have returned with their eagerly anticipated second album Bato Mato, due 1st July via Libertino, following hotly in the footsteps of their trailblazing Welsh Music Prize 2019 debut Melyn.
Speeding into the frosty outer reaches of Russia on the Trans-Siberian Express – the longest railway line in the world – Welsh art-rock band Adwaith suddenly felt a long way from their home back in Carmarthen. Shown the way by their trusty guide Bato Mato as a frozen-over Lake Baikal whipped past the windows, the trio eventually wound up in the bracingly cold city of Ulan-Ude. The pavements were deserted as locals battened down against the chill, lending the grand, brutalist streets a kind of isolation. “I strangely saw similarities between there, and Carmarthen,” says drummer Heledd Owen. “You could kind of sense this loneliness. It felt like this empty city.”
As Adwaith travelled further into Eastern Europe, the trip transformed into a voyage of creative discovery. While the band’s debut album Melyn – which won the prestigious Welsh Music Prize in 2019 – was a musical bildungsroman, dreaming of the possibilities of adulthood, Bato Mato looks in the mirror and sees stark reality biting. Matching Singer’s explorative lyrics, which yearn for a simple life and “a place to call my own”, Adwaith’s songs constantly shift and evolve, searching for a steady pulse that never sticks. Loose and jam-like in structure, the band were heavily influenced by the psychedelic sense of foreboding conjured by late-’60s Krautrock bands Can and NEU!
The band’s memories of speeding through Russia have seeped into the fabric of their second record Bato Mato – the industrial chug powering tracks like ‘Yn Y Swn’ or ‘Anialwch’ recall the relentless pistons of the high-speed train they boarded. “There’s no one on the street but me,” sings Hollie Singer on its opening track ‘Cuddio’, returning once more to the abandoned streets of Ulan-Ude.
“It was a life changing trip that really inspired us to write this album,” explains bassist Gwenllian Anthony. “The barren landscape and brutalist architecture really seeped into these songs and the use of world instruments was heavily inspired by this journey”. “Our journey through the Siberian and Mongolian wilderness influenced the writing and sound of the album to be as open and big as the limitless sky around us there,” says Singer.
Though they had already begun work on a follow-up to debut album Melyn the band immediately canned the whole lot upon their return to rural west Wales as the pandemic hit. Instead, the trip brought about a whole new vision, and separately locked down in different houses, Adwaith began work on a release that dived deep into the isolation and confusion of navigating the messy landscape of your early twenties. The result is the thorny and boundary-pushing Bato Mato. It’s their most direct work to date.
“Our first album was very much about growing up in west Wales and going from teenagers to adults,” says Anthony. “This is the next step in our journey: shit, this is life. We hit reality.”
With an ethos that’s strongly aligned with international acts past and present – multilingual acts like Can and Khruangbin who often use languages like instruments – Adwaith’s music wields Welsh in a direct, muscular manner, despite its initially soft edges. “It takes and it takes,” they sing in Welsh on ‘ETO’, “that’s what love is.” That track’s title was chosen to represent a punchy, memorable hook that transcends traditional borders of understanding – “we want to take our language around the world,” Anthony says.