Ash Dome is the new full-length album by Welsh artist R. Seiliog and the latest addition to the Cue Dot Records series. Simon Tucker reviews.
Release Date: 27th August 2021
Label: Cue Dot Records
Format: CD / DL
Many of us have been going through periods of reflection these last 18 months because….well you know. For some it has helped focus their ideas and give their lives a new sense of drive and purpose. For others, contentment may be the overriding emotion. For many, sadly there has been grief…and lots of it.
Why talk about these things here in the framework of an album review? Is it fair to trawl through our most recent collective trauma for the sake of a few words about what, to some, is just music? Well I am guessing that if you are reading this you’re already in the group who deem music to be vital. A passion. A shared language. Something that connects you to others all over the world.
So know that if you are in this camp it does indeed pay to frame Ash Dome within the context of its release because if you are not prepared you may be sideswiped by its beauty and emotional clout. You see, R. Seiliog (Robin Edwards) has created a work that is so intricate and beguiling that it pulls at any emotional threads you may have thought hidden away until they are revealed to the world forcing you into a state of reflection, introspection, a facing down of the demons, acceptance…and the inevitable serenity that staring straight at your rawest nerves and finally letting go allows you.
Labels you could slap on Ash Dome range from the obvious Electronica to the even more obvious Ambient however for me Edwards has created a modern Welsh folk music…a Gospel with synths that allows you to feel the Earth’s pulse and the fresh start a flowing river presents. It is an instrumental work but one that speaks a thousand languages with the beating heart of Cymraeg forcing the wind around its mountains.
From the scene setting glisten of opener Gwilth ’77 to the monolithic shudder of 22 Onnen (which manages to capture in equal measure the sensation of being lost in a thunder storm and the jittery shiver of natures fungus telling you things are about to get wild), Ash Dome is an album in transit full of peaks and troughs, sunshine and shade. You can bask in the beauty of Rotunda or delve deep inside Mind Garden (which brought this writer to tears the first few times he heard it). You can then grip on for the intense closer that is Chalara.
R. Seiliog has been evolving his sound with each release and Ash Dome sees him blast further into the cosmos. Edwards’ skill is making complex music sound so effortless and the more you listen the more you are left breathless by its warmth, heart and intelligence. This is a new folk music, a new Welsh spiritual and an album that takes you wherever you need to go. You may not want to travel that way at first but believe me when I say that if you go with it you will be hugely rewarded.
An absolute triumph.