"sweet and funny"

American Interior is bushy haired Welsh musician Gruff Rhys’ (Super Furry Animals) second documentary style art film. Accompanied by a puppet representation, he traces the myth of one of his ancient relatives, John Evans, who left Wales for Baltimore in 1792 to look for a tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans.

Even though John Evans’ pursuit turned out to be a unicorn hunt, he ended up travelling great lengths and making important maps of unchartered North American wilderness along his way. And in a similar pursuit of a myth, Gruff Rhys, 43, takes us on a whimsical quest to learn more about his relative. It’s not necessarily fruitful, but carries interesting lessons about that time in America’s virgin history and points to the struggles of maintaining your language and culture as a small country or community - issues that Wales and the Native Americans share.

Putting together what documentation and research there was about Evans, Gruff Rhys made a powerpoint slideshow of his great adventure. He also started making a music album inspired by it that also comes out this week, as well as an American Interior app.

Following the same route as Evans around the North American heartland, Rhys interviewed historians and gave performances using the slide show and his acoustic guitar. All this was caught on camera and comes together in the film, as well as some technicolored animations and constructed sequences where the Evans puppet re-enacts what supposedly faced the original man.

The film is co-directed by Dylan Goch, who also worked with Gruff Rhys on his previous film, Separado! (2010). It also stars Kliph Scurlock from The Flaming Lips who plays drums on some of the songs.

The film is sweet and funny but I don’t know if it is appealing enough beyond the borders of Gruff Rhys’ normal fan circle; those who seek out his endearing personality and humour, and quirky creative style. After all, he is the kind of guy who’s band Super Furry Animals one summer showed up at their festival gigs in a decorated war tank.

Other viewers might find it a bit slow and unengaging, and the many scenes in black and white, with slow focus-changing camera moves, dragging on a bit - and that his suited and sun glasses look is a bit pretentious.

Some will feel patriotic about the film’s sorrow over the potential of the loss of the Welsh language and culture over time, much echoing the political views of Gruff Rhys’ politically involved father who passed away in 1999.

American Interior is released in cinemas in the UK on 9 May 2014 and is accompanied by more performances around Great Britain, screenings and a music album by Gruff Rhys. Or perhaps we should say Gruffydd Maredudd Bowen Rhys, as is his official birth name. Another modern day unicorn chaser in their Welsh family line.