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Gruff Rhys American Interior (Turnstile)

For evidence of the distance concept albums have travelled since the mid-1970s, look no further than ex-Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys's fourth solo long-player.

At its core lies the tale of Snowdonia-born John Evans, who in 1792 sailed to America in search of a Welsh-speaking Native American tribe descended from Madog, the prince believed to have discovered the continent 300 years before Columbus. From such base materials the peerlessly imaginative Rhys, right, - who in 2012 retraced Evans's American journey - has fashioned this album alongside a companion book, film and app. Fortuitously, the multicoloured 13 cuts herein are more digestible than this preamble might suggest. From the questing drama of the title track to the psychedelic whimsy of The Whether (Or Not) via the rodeo rock of The Year Of The Dog, this is an album whose invention and panoramic ambition seamlessly mirror its creative spur. As you'd expect with Rhys, playfulness abounds but the commitment to melody is never derailed. Better still, you can revel in these frontier songs with zero knowledge of their thematic DNA.

Sean Guthrie

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