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“Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr” from Derw

Slipping into focus like a divine dawn breaking into the night sky and welcoming a glorious new day, the first few strands of a harmony that we come in contact with in the new single “Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr” from Derw are angelic to say the least. The instrumentation is not synthetically-driven, there are no elaborate electronic introductions nor spoken word parts, and perhaps best of all, we’re never met with some pseudo-experimental edge that takes the ensuing pop melody over the barriers and into a disturbingly left-field aesthetic. In “Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr,” Derw have one goal and one goal alone – to wow us with their sonic charms, and in my view the accomplish everything they set out to with this project and more. 

The lyrics in this track are in Welsh, but it’s okay if you’re not familiar with the in’s and out’s of the language – with harmonies coming at us full-force, there’s scarcely a moment in which we aren’t able to understand the mood of the music regardless of the poeticisms being employed in the verses. There’s no room for big theatrics in an international tune like this one – there’s only space for the raw passion that attracts members of any culture to the gilded centerpiece of a pop song. If you’re expecting commonalities with the Billboard chart-toppers going beyond a somewhat traditional framework (at least as far as the instrumental arrangement here is concerned), you’re going to be disappointed by just how powerfully untethered to the mainstream this piece of material from Derw really is. 

I would have liked just a little more volume on the guitar parts in a few spots, but at the same time, I think I get what the band was trying to achieve in keeping them as quietly tucked away in the mix as they did. “Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr” is anything but a picture of bombast, and had it been weighed down with any hotter a fretwork than it was here, I don’t know that it would have had the lean and mean demeanor that attracted me to its heroic harmonies in the first place. Derw don’t seem like the kind of act to cut corners with their music, and in that spirit, I don’t think they have the desire to deliver anything thin or bloated to the audience. 

“Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr” crosses the finish line with a haze of a melody centered on the vocal and a lingering key’s melody that fades abruptly, almost as if it were going in reverse. At only three minutes and forty-three seconds, it’s probably not the longest pop song you’re going to hear this September, but if one thing is for sure, it will likely be the most substance-laden of any you hear out of the international underground. Derw have a lot of ground left to cover if they’re going to break into the mainstream, but with “Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr,” they exhibit the right kind of chops to be indie favorites at the bare minimum – and, in my book, that’s one supremely nice bare minimum. 

Mindy McCall

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