n the odd 10-year journey from mucking about and making homemade cassettes to some semblance of international acclaim, Gorkys Zygotic Mynci have managed the considerable trick of maturing without losing either their whimsy or enthusiasm.Gorkys formed in Camarthen, South Wales in early 1991 by teenagers Euros Childs, Richard James, and John Lawrence. Naming themselves after Russian writer Maxim Gorky and adding on the Welsh words for dimwit and monkey, Gorkys attracted the attention of Alun Llywud, the owner of Bangors Anskt label, which issued their debut record in 1992. (And did so three years later for Super Furry Animals.)
Those early recordswhich added drummer Euros Rowlands (who left the band in 2000 after six years as a full-time member) and violinist Megan Childs (Euros sister)took sweet-sounding British folk roots and added touches of progressive and psychedic rock. Early Gorkys records displayed a particular love for the Incredible String Band and Soft Machine (the band even named one of its songs for that bands co-leader Kevin Ayers). Experimental and unfocused, the records worked. The band tossed everything from a strings to stylophone in the mix and out the other came end came boffo surrealistic gems. The kitchen-sink approach to instrumentation extended to Childs frequently swapping English for Welsh, sometimes in the course of the same song.
Lumped into the nascent Britpop scene nearly scored Gorkys a few well-deserved hits, but the band bizarrely and cruelly fell short of the top 40 on nearly every attempt. Whether it was the name or the singing bits in Welsh or not slavishly sounding aping the Small Faces, Rather than being blasted from car stereos and out of apartment buildings, Gorkys have had eight singles reach the top 65 in the UK, the highest charting were Patio Song (No. 41 in November 1996) and Diamond Dew (No. 42 in March 1997).
The parent album of those two singles, Barafundle is the best blend of Gorkys sounds. The first half is nearly perfect, a sun-kissed frequently acoustic stroll through California pop by way of dirt roads. The second half reveled in the medieval, featuring Renaissance arrangements, wizards, and kingdoms but with a genuine pop sensibility rather than the time signature-happy mess those images typically conjure.
A lack of success caught up to Gorkys after their relatively sterile and weak Gorky 5 record was released and the band soon dropped from its major-label contract. That and the departure of co-founder Lawrence hastened the bands move away from the psychedelic on the downbeat but brilliant Spanish Dance Troupe. Mostly laments of loss and heartache, the bouncy title track and Poodle Rockin would upset the flow if they werent both virtually note-prefect.In 2001, Gorkys released its seventh full-length, How I Long to Feel That Summer in My Heart. More autumnal, upbeat, and polished than its predecessor (but less so than the The Blue Trees Ep which followed), the album sounds closer to Gene Clark or American folk, but still offers loveliness to spare.After a successful U.S. headlining tour, Gorkys returned to its native Wales where the band is writing new material.
Current members: Euros Childs (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Megan Childs (violin, vocals), Richard James (guitar, vocals), Rhodri Puw (bass), Peter Richardson (drums)
Location: South Wales
Style: Pop, Rock, Folk
Labels Appeared On: Ankst, Polygram, Fontana, Mantra, Beggars Group (U.S.)
Patio (1993, Ankst)
Tatay (1994, Ankst)
The Game of Eyes/Pentref Wrth Y Mor (1994, Ankst)
Llanfrwrog EP (1995, Ankst)
Bwyd Time (1995, Ankst)
If Fingers Were Xylophones/Moon Beats Yellow (1995, Ankst)
Ambler Gambler EP (Ankst, 1996)
Introducing... (1996, Polygram U.S. compilation)
Barafundle (1997, Fontana/Polygram)
Young Girls and Happy Endings/Dark Night (1997, Fontana)
Gorky 5 (1998, Fontana)
Spanish Dance Troupe (1999, Mantra/Beggars Group)
The Blue Trees EP (2000, Mantra/Beggars Group)
How I Long to Feel That Summer in My Heart (2001, Mantra/Beggars Group)
Starting Point: Barafundle (1997)
Essential: Spanish Dance Troupe (1999)
By: Scott Plagenhoef
Published on: 2003-09-01