It's been a lacklustre start to the year here on Music Arcades, what with three below-par albums and Typepad's utterly appalling service screwing up the layout of 1,100 pages on the site and rendering the home page invisible. At the time of writing it's been a week since I reported this, and they've given no indication of when it will be fixed. This is only the latest in a series of chronic and serious problems going back a couple of years, which have been particularly frequent and acute in the last three months. I've asked them three times in the last week to explain why they have such problems keeping this blog in working order and have been ignored each time. They certainly know how to spit on their customers.
So it's good to have an album that I can unreservedly recommend, even if it may itself show a tendency to spit in your eye. This is the first Datblygu album I owned, and the one that untapped Medwyn's shower of generosity — witness 1, 2, 3. It took me literally years to track it down. The main problem was that I knew how Datblygu was pronounced (at least by John Peel), but I had no idea how it was spelt. I wasn't even sure if it was one word or two, whether I should be looking under D or whether, perhaps, the "Dat" was a definite article and I should be looking under B. There were no tracklistings or programme schedules on the web back then, and no phonetic search. I can't remember how I got over that problem, but I guess I must have seen the name in print somewhere, because I ordered Libertino from www.cow.co.uk in autumn 1998.
It's great to be reminded of the songs that inspired the long search in the first place. I've gone on about Maes E before (though I only just found out that the song has a whole Welsh-language online community named after it), but there are many other treasures on this album: Bedd O Flodau Byw, Croes, Oh and a shorter, less frenetic version (compared with the Peel session) of Rauschgiftsuchtige?. I said of John Arlott that if I couldn't understand English then I would be better able to enjoy the musicality of his voice, and listening to Datblygu offers some of that imagined pleasure: being blissfully unaware of what any of the words mean, I can savour them all the more.
Not that the songs are all pretty. Sometimes listening to Datblygu is like being harangued by the drunk in the corner of the bar who you fear may be about to get violent or abusive at any moment. But you can't tear away, and when he he hits his stride with his declamations you get the uneasy envious feeling that he has wallowed in beauty and joy that you, with your good sense and sobriety, have only glimpsed briefly.
I would say that, if you only get one Datblygu album, this should be it. However, it's now barely possible to get only one Datblygu album. The 2008 re-issue of Libertino comes bundled with Wau and Pyst for a very reasonable £11.69 (at the time of writing). So get all three.
MusicBrainz entry for this album
Wikipedia entry for this album
Rate Your Music entry for this album
Listen to this album in full at Last.fm