Das Koolies – The Condemned

Wonderfully mad Super Furries extra-curricular effort...

Before there was the Super Furry Animals there was Das Koolies. Or so the story goes. Super Furry Animals have always been wonderfully unreliable narrators and never let the truth get in the way of an amazing story – so I’m taking all this with a pinch of salt – but the rumour is that in the early 1990s Gruff Rhys, Dafydd Ieuan and Guto Pryce were in a techno group. Huw Bunford and Cian Ciaran joined, and the rest is history. Now Bunford, Ciarán, Ieuan and Pryce have returned to those early musical roots and released their debut EP ‘The Condemned’. This is four tracks of pulsating techno, pop hooks and catchy choruses. 

Opening track ‘The Condemned’ starts at such a blistering pace it takes you by surprise. In all fairness you aren’t sure that to expect, but what you are presented with isn’t that. After an elongated fade in a throbbing bassline explodes from the speakers. It has a 1980s synth-pop vibe to it. The beats are shuddering. Synths quivering and melodies convulsing. The vocals are slightly indecipherable, and this is part of its charm. Everything catchier than it should be. It takes you slightly off guard and makes you wonder what is going to happen next.

‘You Killed My Robot’ is the most conventional song on the EP. It follows that tried and tested blueprint of verse-chorus-verse. Both being pretty catchy. It’s this formulaic foundation that separates it from the rest of the EP. There are vocals on the other tracks but they feel more like mantras, or slogans, repeated from time to time, rather than a tangible verse, or chorus. As the rest of the EP is quite abstract ‘You Killed My Robot’ stands out. Which is slightly unexpected, but when did Bunford, Ciarán, Ieuan and Pryce every delivered what you expected? 

The downside to the EP is that it all kind of merges into one. When it finishes I know I’ve enjoyed it but I couldn’t really tell you the difference between the four songs. Even after playing it multiple times. This isn’t really a bad thing. The fact I enjoyed it and want to play it again, and again, and again, is the take away, but other than “that track had that awesome basslines and that other track had catchy lyrics” it all merges into one. Saying that this is an EP to play loud and bask in just how much is going on under the surface. ‘Dim Byd Mawr’ appears to start with three different melodies all happening at the same time but it works so well. Fans of Super Furry Animals should enjoy this EP, but new fans should also get a kick out of it even if you aren’t sure what’s going on a lot of the time. 


Words: Nick Roseblade

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.