Rainbows in the Dark: Llyn Y Cwn — “Dinorwic”

Earlier this year I decided I wanted to use the Rainbows platform to branch out of my comfort zone, so I tried dipping my toe in ambient waters, much to my pleasure (read about it here, if you want).  This time, feeling slightly more confident that I know what I’m talking about, I’m back with another Coldspring artist and some more interesting mood setting ambience, this time courtesy of Llyn Y Cwn and the dark ambient naturescapes they’ve crafted on Dinorwic.  This is Rainbows in the Dark, bringing you the best of all things non-metal and metal adjacent.

Dinorwic is named after an abandoned slate quarry in Snowdonia, Northern Wales, situated on the side of Elidir Fawr, a mountain in the Glyderau range.  Save for an underground hydroelectric dam, the quarry has been non-operational since 1969 but remains a fixture of the Northern Welsh landscape, and it is here that Benjamin Ian Powell, aka Llyn Y Cwn, took artistic inspiration for his next project.  Each track on Dinorwic is named after a different section of the quarry where Powell took extensive field recordings and photographs (most of which ended up in the final CD package).  Seeking to capture a post-apocalyptic feel of nature reestablishing itself after the fall of industry, every crack and crevice of the quarry is explored, every cavern and rift meticulously sampled in a way that gives you something pretty damn close to the whole picture of the 700-acre place.  There isn’t an awful lot in the way of instrumentation here, just some synth washes and overtones, and that’s fine because the sounds of nature are the stars of the show.  Howling wind, tumbling rocks, gentle rainfall, moving water and occasionally the sounds of the hydroelectric generator running are what make up most of Dinorwic, but everything comes together to create a cinematic soundscape, one in equal parts disquieting and peaceful.

When I put on Dinorwic, I am filled with a profound sense of wanderlust.  I want so very badly to leave my apartment for a lot of reasons (understandably I’m not going to, but still, a man can dream), and not the least among them is that I miss travelling.  I miss being in new places and having adventures with some pretty cool people.  Listening to Dinorwic leaves me with such a powerful feeling of being right smack in the middle of Northern Wales, when I snap out of it and I’m still at home, it’s kind of a bummer.  Still, if this is the best I can do in the way of travel, I’ll certainly take it.  Dinorwic is beautifully crafted and recorded, with a stunning amount of fine detail to pick out if you really want to listen for it, and enough atmosphere to drown everything out and wash your senses away if that’s what you’re into.  Each track comes from a different part of the massive complex, and each track feels like it has a life of its own, even with its own individual weather patterns.  “Allt Ddu” features soothing rain with gentle breezes, while “Dyffrin” is characterized by strong gusts of wind and “Garrett” showcases the falling pieces of slate that still persist in the quarry today.  On tracks like “Llwybr” the synths are more forward, generating a deep and vivid sense of atmosphere, painting the story that ties the field recordings together and giving you the sense that this is more than just a landscape.  It’s a boundless source of inspiration if you just know where to look.

Benjamin Ian Powell (Llyn Y Cwn)

So far, I’m two for two on finding ambient material I really enjoy from Coldspring.  I think this might be something more regular for me.  Before I wrote this piece, I took a walk with Dinorwic (because it wasn’t blisteringly hot for once) and I was immediately transported to a completely different place than suburban Chicago.  I appreciate any album that can do that for me, regardless of genre, but Dinorwic really celebrates the land that it comes from by putting it first and foremost, and I like that the best about it.  Llyn Y Cwn’s music is meant to fall asleep listening to, and I think I’m going to do that as soon as I finish typing all this out.

– Ian

­Dinorwic is available now on Coldspring.  For more information on Llyn Y Cwn, visit their Facebook page.

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