In this hung-parliament world of uncertainty and doubt, it’s nice to know that there are some things you can rely on to get you through another day. For me it’s knowing that Gruff Rhys – the world’s favourite softly spoken, curly-locked Welsh gentleman genius – has a new single out. It is, naturally, fricken awesome and even better it can be yours for free. Simply head off to gruffrhys.com (cannily renamed recently as The Gruffington Post), leave an email address and soon your ears will be swimming in Gruff’s delightful Shark Ridden Waters.
The track is taken from his upcoming (and as yet unnamed) third solo album. It comes at the end of yet another crazy-busy year for Mr Rhys, a man who is starting to make Billy Childish look a bit idle. Lesser folks might still be resting on the rather spectacular laurels of Super Furry Animals’ 2009 epic masterpiece Dark Days/Light Years. Other folks however are not Gruff Rhys who has been involved in a plethora of projects in a year he also marked his 40th birthday.
After collaborating with Gorillaz on their Plastic Beach album (including the as-yet unreleased Leviathan, described by Gruff as a ‘three o'clock in the morning, speeding down the autobahn evading West German police-type track.’) he teamed up with Tony Da Gatorra, ‘a Brazilian TV and VCR repairman and musical freedom fighter.’ Together they produced The Terror of Cosmic Loneliness, an experimental, mostly live album built around the sound of the gatorra, a homemade drum machine/guitar invented by its namesake. It’s about as far from Gruff’s harmonic style as it’s possible to get so won’t make everyone happy, but it does sound like they’re having a lot of fun. The duo did a few small gigs in the UK this year to promote the album, clips of which you can see on Gruff’s website here...
Gruff met Da Gatorra whilst in South America as part of his other big project for the year, the documentary movie Separado! Described by the blurb as ‘Star Trek meets Buena Vista Social Club in a psychedelic western musical’ the film follows Gruff on ‘a pan continental road trip in search of his long lost Patagonian uncle’.
In an apparently true series of events that sound like the plot of Back to the Future III, a controversial horse race in 1880 led to an unresolved death and a split amongst Gruff’s ancestors, some of whom joined the wave of Welsh expatriates to Patagonia. Gruff undertakes a tour of ‘theatres, nightclubs and desert teahouses of Wales, Brazil and the Argentine Andes as he discovers what became of his family, the Welsh Diaspora and its musical legacy.’ There's unlikely to be an Australian release anytime soon which is a shame as having and watched the trailer with a robot helmeted Guff singing into a vocoder to a crowd of bemused families and scenes of the gatorra in action it looks like it'd be right up my alley.
Whilst we all wait for the DVD, watch the trailer for yourself and find out more about possible cinema screenings in your area at separado.co.uk. For everything else Gruff, including your free copy of his new single, get yourself over to www.gruffrhys.com. Believe me, Shark Ridden Waters is everything you’re hoping it will be. For other reliable (and up to date) Gruff and Super Furry news, remember to check out SFA Goodness (http://sfagoodness.blogspot.com/) or www.superfurry.org. That should be enough to keep you going until the next SFA album which knowing them will probably arrive as a triple album before Christmas. Maybe. Hwyl!