GORKY'S ZYGOTIC MYNCI at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Friday (July 13). $12. 416-598-4753.
welsh walking pop conundrumGorky's Zygotic Mynci have always been difficult to nail down. Changing sound concepts quickly to thwart all attempts at classification, the Gorkys have managed to stay one step ahead of popular trends. Of course, that hasn't made them wealthy, and the people at Mercury who signed the Gorkys to cash in on the sudden popularity of their Welsh contemporaries like Super Furry and Catatonia probably came in for a shock when they discovered the group had no interest in being anyone's Welsh hams. They're no longer on Mercury.
"We've never felt like we belonged to any scene, and I don't really want to," explains fiddler Megan Childs from London. "The "new Welsh music' thing has happened twice now, and we were associated with that both times. Then we got thrown in with the "new indie' groups.
"But all of that's over now, and we're still here. It just shows that our fortunes don't rise and fall according to the fashionability of any particular trend."
Perhaps even more important is that their determination to change and develop the Gorky's sound -- from light-hearted psych bashing in their earliest incarnation through the pastoral folk of recent years -- has kept their recordings consistently intriguing during the band's productive 10-year run.
Their grand How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart (Mantra/Beggars Group) is no exception.
Building on the stripped-down approach of last year's delightfully rustic The Blue Trees (Mantra) disc, How I Long To Feel maintains the sombre, introspective tone but fills in the arrangements with slide guitar, banjo and pedal steel colouring. Not quite what you'd expect from the Welsh pop standard-bearers.
"The Welsh aspect has never really played a big part in our music. We've been influenced more by the pop music of the past that's come from Britain and America, as opposed to what's done in Wales."
Right. It must've been some other Gorky's Zygotic Mynci releasing songs like Ffarm-Wr, Ymwelwyr A Gwrachod, Siwt Nofio, Meth Aros Tan Haf and the unforgettable Gwpwrdd Sadwrn.
Yet hearing bluesy new compositions like Stood On Gold, Dead Aid and the stalker confession Christina, there's no question that the music of Gram Parsons and Gene Clark has had an impact on Gorky's chief songwriter, Euros Childs. Just don't expect any of the members to concede that they've gone country rock.
"We've always been fans of Gene Clark, the Buffalo Springfield and that kind of stuff, so I guess that shows through. But it wasn't a conscious thing to make our new record sound like that."
Heaven's, no. If you believe Childs, the telltale twang of the pedal steel and banjo got on their record completely by chance.
"When you're making a record, sometimes it's just a matter of what's at hand. If someone has borrowed a pedal steel and it's there in the studio , you might use it on some tracks. But we weren't trying to make the record sound countryish, just like we aren't going for a 17th-century sound when we use the harpsichord."
To present both their recent acoustic-oriented songs and the thrashy pop numbers for which the Gorkys are best known, they've devised a novel two-act show, opening with a quiet unplugged set and then rocking out on the second. It worked so well in the UK that they've decided to spring it on us.
"When we'd try doing the acoustic songs in the middle of a regular show, it brought down the mood considerably, and people would just start talking. But by dividing the show into two parts, people realize that the first half is meant to be low-key and are more attentive.
"As much as I like the delicacy of playing the acoustic material, I've come to enjoy the energy of our pure pop songs in the second set even more. It's so exhilarating to hammer away and let yourself go!"