What Up with Gruff Rhys? A Lot.

Gruff Rhys stays busy. When he's not recording with Super Furry Animals or writing concept albums about the Delorean or making great solo albums… he still does other stuff! Currently, two more things. Both of which are a) connected, and b) pretty weird.

The first actually sounds amazing. Rhys stars and co-directs (with Dylan Goch) the quasi documentary Separado! which follows Rhys across continents in seach of a lost uncle. The official synopsis:

Star Trek meets Buena Vista Social Club in this psychedelic western musical as Welsh pop legend Gruff Rhys takes us on a pan continental road trip in search of his long lost Patagonian uncle, the poncho wearing guitarist RENE GRIFFITHS. 

In 1880, following a controversial horse race that led to an unresolved death, Gruff Rhys’ family split as Dafydd Jones took his young family to join the burgeoning Welsh community in Patagonia, South America. There was to be no contact between the families for almost a century when in 1974 Rene Griffiths arrived in Wales with his Latin infused Welsh love songs and became an over night sensation.

It played the L.A. Film Festival last week, and Variety said:

"Nominally concerned with tracking down the singer's mysterious uncle in South America, this sui generis film is equally devoted to travelogue, exiperimental music, Welsh history and the properties of a magical Power Rangers helmet…with frequent pit stops of concerts (including one for a crown consisting entirely of wild horses), interviews with local characters and cheeky freak-out interludes. Yet even when the nostop digressions begin to test one's patience, the film is always easy on the eyes and ears, and a dramatization of 19th-century Welsh emigration via Bollywood-style interpretive dance is worth the price of admission."

Here's the trailer:

And the opening titles


I don't think Separado! has a North American distributor at this time, but maybe it'll play at CMJ or the NYC Film fest? It's currently touring the UK, with Gruff performing as well. Some of the dates also feature an odd, cosmic-looking dude in a headband you may have spotted in the trailer. 

That would be Tony da Gatorra, "a Brazilian TV and VCR repairman, musical freedom fighter and the inventor of his own unique ‘Gatorra’ instrument." While in Brazil filming Separado!, Rhys made an album with the guy which is called The Terror of Cosmic Loneliness which is credited to Tony da Gatorra Vs. Gryf Rhys and it's out today. Rhys explains further:

We spent 5 days rehearsing a set of songs to play live at the venue – our only shared language was music itself so there was no small talk, just intense
concentration on the music. On the final day, as the rehearsals had been so productive, we hooked up some recording equipment and took about 5 hours out to make this record.
We recorded several live takes of each song then chose the best versions. I added a harmony vocal overdub on two songs, otherwise it’s pretty much what we recorded at
the time. 

Upon returning to Cardiff I took the songs to producer Kris Jenkins’s studio whose excitement for the album and general encouragement was infectious – then we called in noise legend Sir Doufus Styles to oversee the final mix.
Armed with 5 flasks of strong coffee, 75 sticks of gum and a bank of vintage compressors we mixed The Terror Of Cosmic Loneliness at extremely loud volume in one epic 12 hour session.

The result kind of sounds like a South American version of The Fall. Clanky old-school drum machines, fuzzed-out guitar, repetition, a lot of shout-talking by an old dude, the occasional melody. Gruff exerts his influence on this one:

MP3: Tony da Gatorra Vs Gruff Rhys – In a House with No Mirrors (buy it)

UK Separado! screening dates are after the jump.

 30/07/10 – Chapter Cardiff (14 days)

01/08/10 – BFI (1 day)

02/08/10 – Curzon Soho (1 day)

06/08/10 – Bradford Pictureville (6, 7, 12, 14, 16, 18 August – 6 days)

13/08/10 – Derby QUAD (4 days)

13/08/10 – Cameo Edinburgh (7 days)

13/08/10 – Duke Of Yorks Brighton (2 days)

13/08/10 – Cinema City Norwich (7 days)

20/08/10 – Green Man Festival (1 day)

20/08/10 – Queen’s Film Theatre (7 days)

29/08/10 – World Party Weekend – Swansea (1 day)

04/09/10 – Hyde Park Leeds (3, 4, 7 September – 3 days)

07/09/10 – The Cube Bristol (2 days)

12/09/10 – Plough Arts Centre (12, 14 September – 2 days)

23/09/10 – Branhage Festival (4 days)

24/09/10 – Hay-on-Wye Wales (3 days)

25/09/10 – Theater Mwldan Wales (25, 27, 28, 29 September – 4 days)

20/10/10 – Galeri Caernarfon (1 day)

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