Bala Rocky

Early morning view across lake Bala, North Wales

What does the word ‘Bala’ mean to you? To me, it is a lake in North Wales. That part of the country is mountainous, so it probably has a rocky shoreline. But “Bala Rocky” is not how you would express that in English. Perhaps, then, the title of this track-of-the-week is named after a Welsh boxer with a reputation for being the plucky underdog in many of his fights – the Rocky Balboa of Bala. The description in the official music video confirms that it was inspired by someone the composers knew, but doesn’t explain how the nickname came about.

“Dedicated to a departed close friend of ours, this track features earthy instrumentation such as an Aztec whistle, giant hay brushes on a large orchestral bass drum and a very old foot pumped harmonium. Louise’s voice insistently refrains a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar “It will come when it will come”. Bala Rocky is a celebration of the precious fragility of all of us and our planet.”

YouTube video

Bala Rocky is a track from Stasis Loops, the second album by Minihi, released just two days ago. It sounds a lot like one of the more upbeat pieces by Enya or Agnes Obel. It is a song that pulses with an unquenchable zest for life. And yet, the refrain reminds us that our lives will all come to an end one day. And the spoken lines in the fadeout press home the message that we can never know when death may come. If we’re all doomed, it seems to say, let’s enjoy our lives while we can.

Their artist’s description on Spotify tells us that Minihi has two meanings:

  1. Ancient Breton French for ‘sanctuary’.
  2. A remote island reef near Louise’s birthplace on Jersey.

As a band, though, Minihi means the married couple, Zands and Louise Anna Duggan, percussionists and composers based in London. Using keyboards and percussion instruments, both tuned and untuned, they make cinematic soundscapes “where the classical palette intersects with the world of groove and electronics”. At Crotchety Headquarters, we like to summarise it as:

“Not quite classical”

The title of a Spotify playlist

If there is a connection between the Duggans and the lake, it is not spelled out. We can only speculate that their long-lost friend was Rocky from the Bala region of North Wales.

Minihi: Louise Anna and Zands Duggan

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