Five years on from their debut album, this quietly intriguing Welsh band are back, signed to an established world-music label. The Scottish Gaelic star Julie Fowlis proved that you don't have to sing in English to succeed, and 9Bach's appeal is centred on another fine singer, Lisa Jen, whose cool and exquisite vocals in Welsh (and a dash of Greek) dominate the album. She is backed by a band who mix an often languid wash of guitars, bass, harp and harmony vocals with subtle use of technology, adding loops or dub effects.
A love for ambiguity is built into 9Bach’s name. Spoken aloud, ‘9’ is identical to the Welsh word for grandmother ‘nain’. And the word ‘nain’ is a slippery, ambiguous word in itself; used as a term of endearment for anyone who shows you kindness, not just your grandmother. The album’s title is equally changeable.
You might remember 9Bach vocalist Lisa Jens from being Gruff Rhys’ foil on his second solo album, Candylion; fittingly, her group have picked up what they call an “internationalist” inspiration from Rhys and co – a band that are arguably Wales’ greatest musical export. It’s there in opener Lliwiau’s dubby bass, and Llwynog’s ethereal folk melodies, which detour into an electro throb reminiscent of SFA’s (Drawing) Rings Around The World. But Tincian also delves further back into Welsh music tradition, emerging as something you might hear on a modern-day equivalent of the Sain label, home to a rich seam of acid-folk in the 70s, and launched in Llandwrog, just 20 miles south-west of 9Bach’s North Walian home in Gerlan.