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Sounding like a bizarrely sweet and whimsical cross between progressive rock, psychedelia, and pure pop, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci were one of the most original and distinctive bands to emerge from the vital post-Brit-pop Welsh scene of the mid-'90s. Gorky's music followed unconventional time signatures and structures, as well as instrumentation (boasting everything from droning moog synthesizers to slurring trombones and steel guitars) and melodic patterns. Furthermore, the band's lyrics were rarely about conventional pop/rock subjects, and they frequently sang in Welsh, which made their already odd music sound even more alien to most listeners. Nevertheless, Gorky's developed a strong cult following in Britian, as well as America, ranking behind Super Furry Animals as the most popular band to emerge from the mid-'90s Welsh scene.
Ironically, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci formed long before Super Furry Animals. Unlike many Welsh bands of their age, the members of Gorky's did not begin a band after Manic Street Preachers appeared in the early '90s -- they began playing in the mid-'80s, when the band members were barely in their teens. Euros Childs (vocals, keyboards), Megan Childs (violin), John Lawrence (guitar), Richard James (bass), and Euros Rowlands (drums) were all attending school in Carmarthen, Wales, when they formed the group. Lawrence, James, and Euros Childs began making tapes in the bedroom, and they eventually added Euros' sister Megan and Euros Rowlands to the lineup. All of the group members came from upper-middle-class families, with Rowlands' father, Dafydd, being a poet who is the archdruid of the Welsh culture celebration Eisteddfod, while Lawrence's mother is a politician. The connections helped Gorky's Zygotic Mynci enter the Welsh culture quite rapidly. Throughout their teens, the band recorded and played festivals, as well as appearing on local television and radio. Eventually, the band signed with the Welsh independent label, Ankst.
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci released three albums on Ankst -- Tatay, Bwyd Time, Llanfwrog -- before moving to Mercury Records in 1996. Their last album for Ankst reached number one on the U.K. independent charts. In 1996, their first American album, Introducing Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, was released. A compilation of their early Welsh albums and EPs, the record received positive reviews, yet it failed to make significant inroads for the group in America. Barafundle followed in 1997, and two years later the group returned with Spanish Dance Troupe. Issued in early 2001, The Blue Trees featured acoustic material from the band's two Mynci 2000 tours. Their seventh album, the intimate How Long to Feel That Summer in My Heart, followed several months later.
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci were a Welsh alternative rock band, formed in Carmarthen, west Wales in 1991. They sang in both Welsh and English. They split up in May 2006.Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Gorky's Zygotic Mynci". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
The group was formed by Euros Childs (vocals and keyboards), John Lawrence (vocals and guitar) and Richard James (bass guitar) whilst still at Bro Myrddin Welsh Comprehensive School in Carmarthen. Beyond their main roles in the band, all three were multi-instrumentalists and often swapped around instruments both in the studio and onstage. With Sion Lane (keyboards) and Steffan Cravos (violin) added to the lineup, Gorky's recorded the self-released cassette Allumette (1991). Sion and Steffan left shortly afterwards (the latter going on to form Welsh-language rap group Tystion) and drummer Osian Evans was recruited for second cassette Peiriant Pleser (1992).
Euros Childs' sister Megan Childs (violin) subsequently joined the group and the band signed to the Welsh record label Ankst. The band's first release for the label was Patio (1992), a 10" collection of various live, home and studio recordings (this was later expanded for the 1995 CD version) which John Cale once proclaimed to be his 'favourite album ever'. Gorky's also released a number of singles and EPs on Ankst, demonstrating a taste for psychedelia and playfulness evidently inspired by the Canterbury scene of the 1960s and 1970s (Kevin Ayers' album Shooting at the Moon is cited in the notes to Tatay as "the best LP of all time", and the record also includes a version of Robert Wyatt's "O, Caroline"). The band began to be championed by BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel (other than that, it was extremely rare to hear Welsh-language music on such a station).
In 1994 Gorky's released their first full studio album, Tatay. By 1995, Euros Rowlands had replaced Osian Evans on drums in time to record a second album - Bwyd Time - which featured a wide range of instrumentation (such as the parts for the celesta and sitar credited on "Iechyd Da"). Both albums were produced by Alan Holmes who also provided their colourful artwork. These early releases show a huge range of influences and styles: "Thema o Cartref", the opening track of Tatay, for example, is a relatively gentle harmonium-backed song, while "When You Hear the Captain Sing" appears to be a tribute of sorts to Captain Beefheart and "Amsermaemaiyndod/cinema" presents one song in the right channel and a completely different one in the left. The 1996 compilation Introducing Gorky's Zygotic Mynci (the band's first release in America) compiled material from the Ankst album and singles and summed up this phase of Gorky's career.
Now attracting the interest of larger record labels, Gorky's left Ankst and signed to Fontana Records. Their next album, Barafundle (1997), was produced by Gorwel Owen who had also worked with the Super Furry Animals. The wide-ranging instrumentation remained ("Diamond Dew" has a prominent part for the jaw harp) and there were still psychedelic touches, but the album as a whole was more laid back than their earlier work, tending more towards folk music. This gentler direction was largely maintained and refined in their later records, though the occasional poppier and rockier number, such as "Poodle Rockin'" from Spanish Dance Troupe or "Mow the Lawn" from Sleep/Holiday, continued to crop up.
Following their fifth album - 1998's appropriately-titled Gorky 5, which was released on Fontana's sister label Mercury Records - the band were dropped by Fontana. They quickly signed to Mantra Recordings (a division of the Beggars' Banquet label). In 1999, Gorky's released their first album for Mantra, Spanish Dance Troupe. This would be the last Gorky's album to feature input from founder member John Lawrence, who left the group during the recording sessions. Richard James took on Lawrence's former role of main guitarist, and Gorky's also recruited former Ffa Coffi Pawb member Rhodri Puw as a sideman to play guitar and bass guitar on tour. In 2000, Gorky's appeared with John Cale in a movie called Beautiful Mistake, in which they performed 1994 album track "O Caroline II". In the same year, the band released an acoustic mini-album called The Blue Trees in 2000, after which drummer Euros Rowlands left Gorky's to take up a career in teaching.
Rowlands was replaced by former Topper drummer Peter Richardson, and at around the same time Rhodri Puw was confirmed as being a full member of the band. This lineup of Gorky's recorded and toured two more albums - How I Long to Feel That Summer in My Heart (2001) and Sleep/Holiday (2003, on the Sanctuary Music label). The latter would prove to be the final Gorky's Zygotic Mynci album. Although Euros Childs and Richard James would spend time working on separate projects for a while, the band did not announce their formal split until May 2006.Gorky's Zygotic Mynci at Stylus Magazine "John Cale on screen - Beautiful Mistake". Xs4all.nl. Retrieved 15 May 2012. BBC Wales news story
Origin of the band name
While in the band, Childs said that one of the most frequent questions he was asked was about the origin of the band's name. After struggling to come up with one, they decided "we might as well stick with the most ridiculous crap name we could think of."
Gorky's came from the word "gawky"; Lawrence says that "gork" was school slang for a dimwit.
Zygotic was "hijacked from GCSE biology"; it's derived from the word zygote, meaning a fertilized egg cell.
Mynci is a spelling of the word "monkey" using Welsh spelling rules, rather than a direct Welsh translation, and is pronounced like "monkey".Leeds Music Scene interview "Stewart Lee Sunday Times interview". June 1996. Archived from the original on 19 August 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013. Wiktionary: zygotic definition