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Gruff Rhys

Sadness Sets Me Free

    Incredibly, “Sadness Sets Me Free” is the 25th album Gruff Rhys has released in his 35 year career individually, collaboratively and as a member of various bands. “Sadness Sets Me Free” is also the follow up to 2021’s “Seeking new Gods”, his first solo top ten record.

    Lead-off single “Celestial Candyfloss” is a telling four minute glimpse of the forthcoming album, revealing the heady wonders and classic pop sounds within. Soaring strings carry the sweet melodies along, anchored by just enough necessary melancholy to add emotional ballast. The eye-popping video was created by long-time collaborator Mark James and compliments the scope and style of the song on a galactic scale.

    “Celestial Candyfloss” is, Gruff says, “an attempted pocket symphony about the cosmic lengths that people will travel in the pursuit of love and acceptance. Mark James has brought the Sadness Sets Me Free album cover to life & managed to place me watching TV interference in a shipping container that’s lost in space. For what is apparently the 25th album I’ve had a hand in writing I’ve reverted to a rich seam of inspiration relating to shedding some light on sadness and the general terror of cosmic loneliness.”

    And so it was that Gruff and his band – Osian Gwynedd (piano), Huw V Williams (double bass) and former Flaming Lips drummer turned Super Furry Animals archivist Kliph Scurlock (drums) piled into a van driven by the late, legendary tour manager “Dr” Kiko Loiacono and raced from Dunkirk, where they had just played the final show of a tour of Spain and France, to the outskirts of Paris in the early hours of a March morning in 2022. There, in La Frette Studios, a recording facility installed in a 19th-century house, Gruff and his road-hardened group tracked “Sadness Sets Me Free” in just three days. Backing vocals were added along the way by Kate Stables from This Is The Kit along with additional strings and orchestration and it was mixed between Marseille and Cardiff. What finally emerged from these intense bouts of cross-continental activity was Gruff’s most accomplished and beautiful record to date.

    In a career that has taken him from the slate-mining towns of north-west Wales, down to the expat communities of Patagonia, up to the Mandan tribe of the Great Plains of North America and across to the Tuareg rock groups of the Saharan Desert, Gruff Rhys, one of Britain’s most beloved and successful singer-songwriters, has always been willing to follow an opportunity, wherever it may lead him. “At this point I quite like working with serendipity,” he says. “Not in a cosmic way, [but] I try and leave things open to chance encounters and chance geography. As I'm around 25 albums in I’m always looking for ways to make a different-sounding record”.


    Barry says: Gruff is one of the masters of musical disguiuse, effortlessly turning his hand to any number of genre leanings, but it's in effortlessly melodic albums like 'Sadness Sets Me Free' that we get to hear the true genius and uplifting glee that only he can bring. There are moments of orchestral majesty and brittle, tentative sadness but every moment is a delight. A reminder of why Gruff is one of the greatest songwriters of our times.


    1. Sadness Sets Me Free
    2. Bad Friend
    3. Celestial Candyfloss
    4. Silver Lining (Lead Balloons)
    5. On The Far Side Of The Dollar
    6. They Sold My Home To Build A Skyscraper
    7. Peace Signs
    8. Cover Up The Cover Up
    9. I Tendered My Resignation
    10. I’ll Keep Singing

    Dinked Edition Bonus 7”:
    A. Amser
    B. (etching, No Audio)

    Gruff Rhys

    The Almond & The Seahorse - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

      This 22-track album comprises original songs and instrumental score, all composed by Gruff Rhys. Recorded between 2021-2022 with a host of featured musicians including members of the National of Orchestra Wales, the music features throughout the forthcoming film of the same name, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rebel Wilson and Celyn Jones.

      Set for release in early 2023, the film tells the story of archaeologist (Rebel Wilson) and an architect (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and their fight to re-imagine a future after a traumatic brain injury leaves them adrift from the people they love. The title of the film itself refers to the nicknames given to the parts of our brains that lay down new memories and hold on to the old ones.

      Tonally, the soundtrack compliments the movie perfectly: the drama of the subject matter and the human relationships is counterbalanced by the film’s wry humour and lightness of touch, and the varied compositions and styles on Gruff Rhys’ score and compositions reflects that. “The soundtrack for The Almond & The Seahorse was recorded largely in pandemic conditions so it was a matter of recording in bursts of possible activity in various friends’ studios, homes and even scout halls as chance permitted. It’s a varied quilt work as a result. “Gruff notes. “As sonic flagpoles I wanted to signify the film’s location in Liverpool and the Wirral by liberally, but hopefully not too obviously, using the Mellotron synthesizer (as famously used in Strawberry Fields by the Beatles & therefore in my mind it represents that great city sonically) and the Cello as a nod to its use by Gwen’s character in the film.”

      “I was encouraged by Mike Jones the editor to take things to a more acoustic, emotional and ragged place. That, I hope, roughly explains the trajectory of the recording and how the varied music contained in this record came about. I hope you enjoy this colorful scrapbook of a soundtrack and get a chance to watch the film”.


      Barry says: Gruff Rhys is equally comfortable crafting grand, uplifting melodies and melodic guitar-based pop as he is brittle, minimalistic soundtracks. The Almond & The Seahorse is a tender work of emotional depth and further proves Rhys' almost unrivalled capacity as a musical chameleon.


      Side A
      The Brain And The Body
      People Are Pissed
      Layer Upon Layer

      Side B
      Joe's Theme
      Sunshine And Laughter Ever After
      Variation With Strings
      Low Cello
      Liberate Me From The Love Song
      Love Love Love

      Side C
      I Want My Old Life Back
      Forest Waltz
      Dance All Your Shadows To Death
      Library To Kiss
      Staccato With Cello
      Small Talk

      Side D
      Toni’s Theme

      Gruff Rhys

      Seeking New Gods

        Gruff Rhys is releasing his new album “Seeking New Gods” through Rough Trade Records on 21st May. This will be Gruff’s seventh solo album. “Seeking New Gods” was recorded following a US tour with his band and mixed in LA with superstar producer Mario C (Beastie Boys).

        The album concept was originally driven to be the biography of a mountain, Mount Paektu (an East Asian active volcano). However, as Gruff’s writing began to reflect on the inhuman timescale of a peak’s existence and the intimate features that bring it to mythological life, both the songs and the mountain became more and more personal.

        “The album is about people and the civilisations, and the spaces people inhabit over periods of time. How people come and go but the geology sticks around and changes more slowly. I think it’s about memory and time,” he suggests of Seeking New Gods’ meaning. “It’s still a biography of a mountain, but now it’s a Mount Paektu of the mind. You won’t learn much about the real mountain from listening to this record but you will feel something, hopefully.” - Gruff Rhys.


        Barry says: Gruff returns for yet another faultless slab of widescreen cinematic pop, full of his warmingly familiar but endlessly inventive chord progressions and swoon-inducing vocal drawl. Optimistic but filled with more introspective moments among the otherwise bombastic stomp. It's as dizzying and perfect as anything he's ever done. Peak Gruff.


        Side A
        1. Mausoleum Of My Former Self
        2. Can’t Carry On
        3. Loan Your Loneliness
        4. Seeking New Gods
        5. Hiking In Lightning
        Side B
        1. Holiest Of The Holy Of The Holy Men
        2. The Keep
        3. Everlasting Joy
        4. Distant Snowy Peaks

        Dinked Edition Flexi Disc
        Tropical Messiah

        Gruff Rhys

        (Don't) Welcome The Plague As A Blessing/ The Babelsberg Basement Files


          LP with split coloured black & white vinyl Early in 2016 Ali Chant texted me, asking if I still wanted to record some stuff at his studio - as property developers were about to knock it down.Another creative space bulldozed away for capital gain.Politically it was a shit year.The noise building for the Brexit referendum that would fuck with the future of the young was in full swing.Bowie died, and on the morning of the first recordings I had the worst migraine.I left the building and threw up in the street.I wanted to commit to the lyrics and sing live so I think I was stressed about getting them ready to sing. I had a batch of songs I wanted to record but I didn't have a record label or any plans of what to do with them. I gathered incredible musicians from my square mile in Cardiff in the van and drove to Bristol.Kliph on drums, Steve on bass and Osian on piano. I sang and played guitar - We recorded live takes for 3 days then I sat on the songs for almost 2 years.Eventually handing them to composer Stephen McNeff to work on orchestral arrangements. I called the album that was mixed by Samur Kouja; Babelsberg - and I'm very happy with it. This album meanwhile is an exploration of how it came to be - and the songs in their raw state.A companion piece rather than the definitive article. Most tracks are similar to the final work except for Selfies in The Sunset which is pre-duet and much longer. At some point it would be great to release the amazing orchestral elements too.Maybe both records could be played at once.In the meantime please enjoy the fruits of Kliph Scurlock's mixes and demo digging for (Don't) Welcome The Plague As A Blessing. I'm very grateful to Lisa Jen and Mirain Haf from the band 9 Bach for singing the background vocals.Kliph for overseeing this project, Rough Trade for their enthusiasm and thanks to the designers; thanks Uno Moralez for agreeing to have his incredible Babelsberg sleeve illustration carved up, and ace designer Mark James for this final article. Further thanks to Ali, Steve, Osian and also to Robin Turner for lending his ear at the time. 1. Frontier Man 2. The Club 3. Oh Dear! 4. Limited Edition Heart 5. Take That Call 6. Drones in the City 7. Negative Vibes 8. Same Old Song 9. Architecture of Amneisa 10. Selfies in the Sunset

          Gruff Rhys


            The new album from Gruff Rhys, ‘Pang!’ is a Welsh Language pop album with a couple of verses of Zulu and an English title. ‘Pang!’ developed unexpectedly over about 18 months. A solo album of songs by Gruff Rhys, produced & mixed by the South African electronic artist Mmusi, and will be released by Rough Trade Records.

            Recorded in Cardiff, Wales. It was mixed by the producer Muzi in Johannesburg, South Africa. Drums by Welsh-American psychedelic warlord Kliph Scurlock, brass by Gavin Fitzjohn and flute and percussion by the engineer Kris Jenkins. Beats, bass & ah’s by Muzi with Gruff on vocals and guitar.

            Gruff explains “Pang! Is a Welsh language song with an English title. It started life as a folk reel and soon expanded into a ‘list’ song, listing various reasons for pangs; hunger, regret, twitter, pain, bad design etc. Using the English word pang in a Welsh language track may appear weird but I suppose it’s like using the French word ‘Magazine’ in an English song. In that it’s slightly pretentious but completely acceptable.”

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: There is no more distinctive a voice in modern indie than Gruff, with his impeccable grasp of melody and seamless integration of welsh vocals, dynamic percussion and classic songwriting. Another absolute classic, and an absolutely lovely chap to boot. Perfect.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Pang!
            2. Bae Bae Bae
            3. Digidigol
            4. Ara Deg
            5. Eli Haul
            6. Niwl O Anwiredd
            7. Taranau Mai
            8. Oi Bys Nodau Clust
            9. Annedd Im Danedd

            Babelsberg is the fifth album by Gruff Rhys, his first record for Rough Trade since 2007’s classic Candylion. The album features orchestral scores by Swansea based composer Stephen McNeff and the incredible work of the 72 piece BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The result is Gruff’s best record to date - a ten song gazetteer of modern times, each track set to timeless, indelible melody. Amazingly, for a collection of songs written over two years ago, each one seems to pull very sharp focus on the times we’re living in.

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: The legendary Gruff Rhys kills it once again for his newest outing, Babelsberg. Orchestral, nuanced and oozing with Gruff's singular vocal drawl, encompassing all aspects of his previous works and pulling together into a cohesive and essential whole.

            TRACK LISTING

            Frontier Man
            The Club
            Oh Dear!
            Limited Edition Heart
            Take That Call
            Drones In The City
            Negative Vibes
            Same Old Song
            Architecture Of Amnesia
            Selfies In The Sunset

            Gruff Rhys

            Set Fire To The Stars

              Gruff Rhys presents the soundtrack to the film Set Fire To The Stars. The album is released on Finders Keepers on September 30th 2016.

              Although recorded around the same time as Gruff’s last LP (2014’s hugely acclaimed American Interior), Set Fire To The Stars paints a very different picture to that of the Welsh explorer John Evans. Equal parts cocktail jazz, hazy Americana and Atomic Age bop, it’s a love letter to New York in all its hopeful, post war glory – a gorgeous diversion of a record to add to Gruff’s increasingly brilliant solo catalogue.

              Gruff on Set Fire To The Stars:

              “This is an album of music written for a film directed by Andy Goddard concerning the poet Dylan Thomas’s first week in the USA in 1950 and his uneven friendship with fellow poet - and agent of sorts - John Malcolm Brinnin. As the film is shot in black and white and set in the Jazz age, I decided not to use any instruments unavailable in that era. I also keep the recordings as live takes. Beyond that - I didn’t try and ape the style of that era in particular apart from the song Atom Bomb which on screen, plays on a jukebox in a cafe and needed to be true to the year sonically and lyrically in some way.
              “Playing the guitar, I formed a short lived Agro-Jazz quartet (you got a problem with that?) called Video Loss with Chris Walmsley on drums, Jim Barr on double bass and Osian Gwynedd on piano. I wrote a bunch of songs and instrumentals. Some other bits were improvised to picture by Osian Gwynedd and myself. Chop Shop features Video Loss on max Moon-Ra improvisational setting. Gruff ab Arwel arranged all the strings and Gavin Fitzjohn played and scored the brass. It was recorded and mixed at Toybox, Bristol by the incredible Ali Chant - apart from the strings which were recorded at Metropolis, London.”

              Gruff Rhys is currently recording his next proper solo album – it is due for release in 2017

              TRACK LISTING

              1 John Malcolm Brinnin
              2 Set Fire To The Stars
              3 After Hours/Panic
              4 Tremble (Down)
              5 Tremble To The Light
              6 Tremble (Up)
              7 After Hours/Tension
              8 Log Cabin 1
              9 Log Cabin 2
              10 Log Cabin 3
              11 John Adoring At Yale
              12 Set Fire To The Strings
              13 After Hours/Tender
              14 John & The Poem
              15 B Chop Shop
              16 Atom Bomb
              17 After Hours/Contentment
              18 Ticking Clock
              19 Military Madness
              20 Caitlin’s Theme
              21 Tremble (Joy)
              22 Dylan’s Demons
              23 It Was Hot That Summer

              Gruff Rhys


                "Candylion" was the second solo album from Gruff Rhys. Now released on vinyl for the first time in the UK, it's a mesmerising musical journey. It seems fitting therefore that insight into the workings behind the album come straight from the man himself:

                '"Candylion" took form in the spring of 2006 over a fragmented two week period at Gorwel Owen's Ofn studio in Llanfaelog, Wales. My ears were happily ringing from a few months touring with the Super Furry Animals and I had a batch of mellower acoustic songs I wanted to record quickly and get out of the way before the next speaker-blowing SFA record. Once in the studio however I got carried away and found myself in a nostalgic mood, pining for some of the music I grew up listening to.'

                TRACK LISTING

                A.1 - This Is Just The Beginning
                A.2 - Candylion
                A.3 - The Court Of King Arthur
                A.4 - Lonsome Words
                A.5 - Cycle Of Violence
                A.6 - Painting People Blue
                B.1. - Beacon Of Darkness
                B.2 - Con Carino
                B.3 - Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru
                B.4 - Now That The Feeling Has Gone
                B.5 - Ffwydriad Yn Y Ffurfafen
                C.1 Skylon!
                D - Etched..

                Gruff Rhys


                  "Candylion" is the new solo album from Gruff Rhys. It follows the single of the same name and is a mesmerising musical journey with one of our most talented singers and songwriters. It seems fitting therefore that insight into the workings behind the album come straight from the man himself. '"Candylion" took form in the spring of 2006 over a fragmented two week period at Gorwel Owen's Ofn studio in Llanfaelog, Wales. My ears were happily ringing from a few months touring with the Super Furry Animals and I had a batch of mellower acoustic songs I wanted to record quickly and get out of the way before the next speaker-blowing SFA record. Once in the studio however I got carried away and found myself in a nostalgic mood, pining for some of the music I grew up listening to.'

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