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Date: 23/06/21

Symud I Ddim

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Llun o David R. Edwards / A photo of David R. Edwards

David R. Edwards
Cerddor, Canwr, Cyfansoddwr
g. 3 Medi 1964, f. 20 Mehefin 2021

David R. Edwards
Musician, Singer, Songwriter
b. 3 September 1964, d. 20 June 2021

Er bwrlwm byd cerddoriaeth pop a roc Cymraeg y saithdegau - dyfodiad grwpiau megis Edward H. Dafis ac artistiaid unigol fel Geraint Jarman - yr oedd rhywbeth yn eisiau arnynt i gyd. Yr oedd pob un ohonynt yn efelychu neu atgynhyrchu dulliau cerddorol a ddeliodd o rywle arall; arddulliau y byd Eingl-Americanaidd yn bennaf.

(Yr oedd hyn yn wir hyd yn oed am y grwpiau a seiliodd eu 'cynnyrch' ar gerddoriaeth werin; yr oedd effaith niweidiol y biwritaniaeth gysetlyd fu'n rhemp yn y wlad ers dros ganrif wedi dinistrio erwau helaeth o'n canu gwerin cynhenid, ac felly yr oedd angen benthyca o draddodiadau gwerin eraill fel Iwerddon i lenwi'r bylchau).

Bu rhyw symud ymlaen ar ddechrau'r wythdegau, pan ddaeth Malcolm Neon i'r golwg 'i gerddoriaeth electronig, arbrofol a oedd, er hynny, yn amnaid amlwg tuag at y sn a oedd wedi datblygu o gwmpas pobl fel Gary Numan yn Lloegr. Yr oedd angen rhywbeth amgen yn y geiriau, yn y mynegiant, yn y symbyliad y tu l i'r sain.

Ym 1982, ffurfiodd dau grwt o Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi ddeuawd ag - er bod gitr ac ati (hyd yn oed ffidil ar eu caneuon cynnar) ganddynt - allweddellau yn ganolbwynt i'w cerddoriaeth.

Ond yr oedd arddull a natur y geiriau yn wahanol iawn i unrhywbeth a ddaeth o'u blaenau. Yr oedd geiriau David R. Edwards yn finiog, yn frathog, yn ddychanol ac yn farddonol mewn cywair tywyll er yn uniongyrchol. Wedi'u hasio at gerddoriaeth finimalaidd Edwards a T. Wyn Jones, creodd Datblygu batrwm newydd.

Fel efo pob arloeswr, nid oedd gwrandawyr i'r pop a roc 'traddodiadol' yn barod amdani, a chyhoeddodd y grwp gasetiau (ar label Malcolm Neon a oedd yn ddi-os yn un o'r ychydig - Rhys Mwyn o'r Anrhefn oedd un arall - a ddeallodd yr hyn yr oedd y grwp yn ceisio'i wneud) heb fawr o ymateb.

Trwy ryw hap, ddaeth Datblygu i sylw DJ mwyaf dylanwadol y blaned, sef John Peel. Yr oedd caneuon Datblygu at ddant un a oedd mor eangfrydig ei chwaeth, ac ym 1987 recordiodd y grwp eu sesiwn gyntaf iddo. Trwy hynny, ddaethant i sylw llawer ehangach yn nhermau daearyddol a chelfyddodol, wrth roi cyfle i lawer mwy o bobl meddyliau llawer mwy agored na'r gynulleidfa gul yng Nghymru i'w clywed.

Ymhen tair blynedd - trwy label Anhrefn i ddechrau - cynhyrchwyd dau LP a seliodd delwedd y grwp: Wyau (1988), a Pyst (1990). Caneuon byrion, offerynnu elfennol, geiriau pigog, sardonaidd ac, ar brydiau, goruwchreal. Ond, er tywylled y testunau, yr oedd lle i ddigrifwch ynddynt; ac er cymaint oedd ymroddiad David R. i'r Gymraeg (fel yn y nodyn ar gefn clawr yr EP Hwgr-Grawth-Og (1986) sydd yn datgan, "It is sung in Welsh because it is, and we are."), nid oedd hynny yn ei gadw rhag lambastio elfennau nid yn unig o'r diwylliant Cymraeg traddodiadol ond o'i diwylliant cyfoes a oedd yn dreuliedig ac ystrydebol. Ac, er hyn holl, yr oedd y gerddoriaeth ( Patricia Morgan wedi ymuno i rannu'r cyfansoddi) yn ddi-ffwdan ac, yn aml iawn, yn sionc fel gwrthgyferbyniad i natur y testun.

Wrth i'r hen ganrif ddirwyn i'w phen, ac efo'r rwtsh gwneud o 'Cool Cymru' ar ei anterth, ciliodd David R. Edwards o'r 'sn' oherwydd problemau difrifol yn ymwneud ag iechyd ei feddwl (a fu'n ceisio delio nhw trwy hunan-feddygaethu diod). Aeth ymhell dros ddegawd heibio cyn iddo ddychwelyd mewn ffordd fach, ac ni ddaeth albwm newydd gan y band tan Erbyn Hyn ym 2014. Yr oedd dau arall i ddod, Porwr Trallod (2015) a Cwm Gwagle (2020), a ddangosodd nad oedd ei finiogrwydd wedi mynd i ebargofiant. Ond, daeth problemau meddygol eraill i roi terfyn ar ei oes y penwythnos diwethaf, ac yntau yn ddim ond hanner-cant-a-chwe mlwydd oed.

Yn yr ychydig amser a gafodd, ehangodd David R. Edwards orwelion yr hyn a ystyriwyd i fod yn bosibl yn y byd roc a pop Cymraeg ac - er cyn lleied oedd y gydnabyddiaeth iddo yn y byd mawr, masnachol, Eingl-Americanaidd, yr oedd ei ddylanwad gartref yn aruthrol, a'i waith yn ysbrydoli eraill i arbrofi a chael hyd i'w llais eu hunain.

Wel, beth am y blydi cerddoriaeth, 'te? Dyma ychydig o'm ffefrynnau:

O Wyau, dyma Gwlad Ar Fy Nghefn, sydd yn anelu at (a tharo) elfennau cyfforddus, cysetlyd y Gymru Gymraeg. Daw'r dernyn hwn o raglen Fideo 9:



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O Pyst, dyma Am, sydd yn dangos sut mae'n bosibl asio geiriau miniog a doniol efo tn gall pobl ddawnsio iddi:



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Mynd yn l tua dechrau 'gyrfa' y grwp, dyma Cyn Symud I Ddim, cn sydd o anghenrhaid yn atgoffa dyn o Joy Division:



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Ar nodyn llawenach (a goruwchreal!), dyma Santa A Barbara (1991), a'r fideo yn cynnwys Dave, ci du (arwyddocaol? Pwy a ŵyr?) a Ree Davies:



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Gallai dylanwadau o'r tu allan ymdreiddio i gerddoriaeth Datblygu hefyd, ac o'r un flwyddyn dyma Pop Peth sydd yn dangos l y sn dawns a oedd wedi tyfu tua'r adeg honno:



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Ac yn olaf, i brofi nad oedd o wedi chwythu'i blwc yn sgl ei afiechydon, o albwm olaf Datblygu (Cwm Gwagle (2020)), dyma Y Purdeb Noeth:



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Nos da, Dave...

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Moving To Nothing

Despite the outpouring of pop and rock in Cymraeg during the seventies - with the advent of groups such as Edward H. Dafis and solo artists like Geraint Jarman - there was still something missing from them all. Every single one of them was imitating or reproducing musical styles which originated elsewhere; from the Anglo-American world, mostly.

(This was even true of the groups who based their 'product' on folk music; the injurious effects of the excessive conceited puritanism of the land for over a century had eradicated broad swathes of native folksong, and so it was necessary to borrow from other traditions such as the Irish in order to fill up the gaps).

There had been some movement forwards at the beginning of the eighties, when Malcolm Neon came into view with his experimental electronic music which was, all the same, an obvious nod towards people in England such as Gary Numan. There was a need for alternative words, an alternative mode of expression, an alternative impetus behind the sounds.

In 1982, two boys from Aberteifi Secondary School formed a duo and - although guitars featured (and even a fiddle on their earliest work) - their sound centred around keyboards.

But it was the style and nature of the lyrics which were very different from anything which had come before them. The words of David R. Edwards were sharp, biting, satirical and poetic in ways which were both dark and direct. Yoked together with the minimalist musical style of Edwards and T. Wyn Jones, Datblygu created a new template.

As with all pioneers, the listeners to 'traditional' pop and rock were not ready for this, and the group published cassettes (on Malcolm Neon's own label, Neon being undoubtedly one of the few - Rhys Mwyn of Yr Anrhefn was another - who understood what the band was trying to do) without much response.

By chance, Datblygu came to the attention of the world's most influential DJ, John Peel. Their songs were much to the liking of someone of such broad tastes, and the band duly recorded their first session for him in 1987. Through this, they came to the attention of a far wider audience in both geographical and artistic terms, giving an opportunity to many more people with far more open minds than the narrow (in all senses of the term) Welsh audience to hear them.

Over the next three years - through Yr Anrhefn's own label to begin with - two LPs were released which sealed the group's image: Wyau ("Eggs") (1988), and Pyst ("Posts") (1990). Short tracks, basic instrumentation, words which were spiky, sardonic and at times surreal. But however dark the subject matter, there was room for humour in them; and however strong David R.'s commitment to Cymraeg (as in the note on the back of their Hwgr-Grawth-Og EP (1986) stating, "It is sung in Welsh because it is, and we are."), that didn't stop him from lambasting elements not only of traditional culture in Cymraeg but of the hackneyed and clichd contemporary scene. And despite all this, the music (with Patricia Morgan having joined to share composing duties) was unfussy and frequently upbeat in contradiction to the nature of the lyrics.

As the old century wound down, and with the manufactured nonsense of 'Cool Cymru' at its height, David R. Edwards retreated from the 'scene' because of serious problems with his mental health (which he had tried self-medicating against with booze). Way over a decade passed before he returned in a small way, and no new album from the band appeared until 2014's Erbyn Hyn ("By Now"). Two more followed, Porwr Trallod ("Browser Of Troubles") (2015) and Cwm Gwagle ("Valley Of Emptiness") (2020), which showed that his sharpness had not deserted him. But other medical problems intervened to end his life last weekend at the age of just fifty-six.

In the little time he had, David R. Edwards expanded the horizons of what was considered possible in rock and pop in Cymraeg and although this brought little recognition in the big, commercial, Anglo-American world, his influence at home was enormous, with his work inspiring others to experiment and find their own voice.

Well, what about the bloody music, then? Here are a few of my favourites:

From Wyau, this is Gwlad Ar Fy Nghefn ("Land On My Back") which aims at (and hits) elements of the comfortable, conceited elements of the Cymru Cymraeg, with its chorus of, "Living In Wales is like staring at paint drying, at the grass growing.". This clip comes from the television programme Fideo 9:



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From Pyst, here's Am ("For"), which shows how it is possible to put a tune that people can dance to with words of edgy wit, such as "For the girls I've not had / For the above lousy line", and, "I know why I carry on / The hope of seeing people singing 'Calon Ln' being melted down for fat":



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Going back to the early part of the group's 'career', here's Cyn Symud I Ddim ("Before Moving To Nothing"), a song which inevitably invites comparison with Joy Division, with its lines like, "Trying to analyse my messy existence / And what I'm trying to achieve before going to the grave", and, "Life is the knife and we are the lamb / which dances like patients between pleasure and pain":



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On a lighter (and more surreal) note, here's Santa A Barbara ("Santa And Barbara") (1991), with a video containing Dave, a black dog (significant? Who knows?) and Ree Davies. The lyric starts with a line which works (and rhymes) even in translation, and a line which I've always found amusing, "There are no chestnuts to roast / Just a French letter to post". Ooh-er, missus!:



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Influences from outside could still penetrate Datblygu's music however, and from the same year as Santa..., here's Pop Peth ("Everything"), which bears the marks of the dance scene which had developed by that time:



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And finally, to prove that he hadn't completely shot his bolt following his illnesses, from Datblygu's final album Cwm Gwagle ("Valley Of Emptiness") (2020), here's Y Purdeb Noeth ("The Naked Purity") with its opening line, "The naked purity is clearer / Having moved away from the unclean":



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Nos da, Dave...