Preview : FOCUS Wales 2018 : 9Bach / Gintis / Chupa Cabra / Delta Radio Band / Cara Hammond / Adwaith & MoreFOCUS Wales I Wrexham I 6pm, Thu 10 May 2018 I Gig Ticket £12 - Weekend Ticket £40
FOCUS Wales will offer hundreds of performances over the three days of this year's festival, but one of the undoubted highlights will be 9Bach performing at the new town centre venue, Tŷ Pawb, on the first evening (From 6pm, Thursday, 10th May).
There are two places where 9Bach's music has its most visceral impact.
The first is found if you climb one of the steep gradient paths that lead up from the band's home town of Bethesda, and listen to one of their three albums whilst looking down at the scarred landscape of the whole Ogwen Valley. From that perspective their signature sound makes sense as the perfectly formed post-industrial folk that it is - masterfully crafted by fusing the innate and traditional with elements of psychedelia, rock and dub.
The other is on a stage - where the fluidity of the mesmeric, shifting soundscape that flows around Lisa Jên's voice is completely enchanting.
9Bach have won awards and been widely fêted, but it is not until you stumble out of one of their gigs, as dumbfounded as you were as a small child coming out into the light from a Saturday afternoon film matinee, that you realise quite how good they are.
If that is not enough, then the supporting bill for their set is full of fascination, energy and delight.
Delta Radio Band are a five piece psychedelic electric blues band from Wrexham, influenced by everything from Muddy Waters to Captain Beefheart and The Doors. They are releasing their debut EP on the date of this gig.
Cara Hammond is a 21 year old singer-songwriter who impressed with her composure and grace from her first appearance on a school stage. A distinct, rich voice, her songs can rack up six figure play numbers on Spotify.
A definite contrast, providing tub-thumping excitement are Chupa Cabra, from Deeside - described as somewhere between 'The Pixies on the A4 bus' and 'pure, pogoing garage-punk pandemonium'. Either will do.
Adwaith are West Wales' most vibrant post-punk folk hopes - a young, all female trio, they have released a series of scintillating singles - with the latest AA two song salvo of Fel i Fod / Newid definitively confirming that the commotion around them is, if anything, understated.
Finally, added to the art and fire of Welsh contemporary music, is a Korean showcase that demonstrates exactly what FOCUS Wales is about, and the international brilliance it can bring to North Wales - just one song is needed from one of the three Korean bands and that case is closed. The track is a six minute post-rock tone poem from In the endless zanhyang we are - it minimally sketches emotion, with an effective and extended silence where you might expect instrumental excess. It is one of the finest, most arresting things you will hear this year.