MC Mabon

Nia Non

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MC Mabon's third album, at a brief 32 minutes, takes a less-structured, lower-key approach than The Hunt for Meaning, though the real difference isn't in intensity but in instrumentation. With a lot of acoustic guitar and crisp but understated beats, what separates Nia Non from any number of efforts characterized by a folk/hip-hop blend is its energy. The careening skip of "Cariad Du," the brisk and slightly brusque shuffle and chug of "Pan Ti'n Cyredd Y Stesion," the almost-halfway-to-flamenco swing of "Min Y Gyllel," and more all lend an air of fun. That the album wraps up with the horn-driven "Tymheredd Yn Y Gwres," a great little knees-up singalong and then some with just enough of a melancholic midsection, is only appropriate. Not everything is so hyperactive, to be sure: "Merlen," with its mournful and slightly strident strings, and the country twang shuffle of "Diom Bwys Ta Waeth" are two songs among others where the tempo is slower but the performances no less on the money. Mabon's vocals, both singing and rapping, stick to a strictly all-Welsh diet this time around, the instantly recognizable lilt of the language coming through strong throughout. He plays around with both vocals and music here and there in the crackling, post-laptop way that groups like Wilco and the Notwist also have -- check out the chop-ups and stutters on "Tiwn Gron," the squelching electro and disco moves on "Dim Ffrywn," or "Gwyneba Dy" and its deep glitch beats. Various guests help out throughout -- credit to MC Saizmundo's entertainingly confrontational turn on the wryly titled (thanks to the pronunciation) "Myddyffycys Yn Bob Man," Rhian Green's similarly sharp and sly work on "Pen Rwd," and Ems Jones' various efforts on piano throughout, among others.

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