Llyn Y Cwn – Dinorwic CD Cold Spring Records 2020
Llyn Y Cwn is the solo project of Ben Powell, with the project moniker being Welsh for ‘lake of the dogs’ a small lake Glyder mountain range of Snowdoina, North Wales. Although it seems the project has been active since 2015 and with a handful of releases already issued, this new album constitutes my introduction.
Based on the cover image, it is perhaps obvious that Llyn Y Cwn is a dark ambient project at its core. Yet sonically the project is concerned with the ultra-minimal isolationist ambience end of the genre spectrum. Evidently, the material is based around nature-based field recordings made at various locations within the decommissioned Dinorwic slate quarry which are then blended with minimalist shifting synth textures. As such a brooding windswept / rainswept mood prevails, alongside deeply echoed resonances of tumbling stones, distant rolling thunder etc. These naturally derived sound textures and coupled with monumentally thick bass tones and elongated synth lines which move so slowly as to articulate melodious drones rather than a recognisable melody. Yet the overall atmosphere is one of deep calm, rather than the more typical mood of lurking dread, thus make for meditative and contemplated listening.
Although not breaking the mold of this type of material, it is nevertheless exceptionally well done and consequently, Dinorwic is an album which has received many repeat listens. A six-panel digipack features suitably bleak images of the Dinorwic slate quarry and associated abandoned stone structures rounds out the physical presentation.