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***The story of Hen Ogledd (Welsh for Old North), one of Britain’s more colorful and unusually unpredictable contemporary bands, begins with this duo recording of Richard Dawson and Rhodri Davies, first released in 2013 on an LP in an edition of 250 copies by the Alt.vinyl imprint. This Streamline edition is its first-ever CD release.
Hailing from Newcastle, Richard Dawson should not need any introduction, as he has made his name with numerous solo and collaborative outings, while Welshman Rhodri Davies, known for his involvement with the British school of reductionist free improvisation, has collaborated with and performed for a great number of improvisers and composers.
Guitar playing singer/songwriter Dawson met with Davies (who is featured here on pedal harp, amplified lap harp, electric harp, percussion and electronics) to produce these five pieces of heavily distorted improvisation that veer refreshingly away from any academic background one might expect at such an encounter. Instead we find a highly energetic blend of lo-fi rock, improvisation and imaginary folklore that suggests jam sessions between Captain Beefheart’s legendary Magic Band and Northern English noise champions The New Blockaders. While this analogy does not seem fully satisfactory and one struggles for words for an appropriate reference, the uniqueness of Hen Ogledd becomes apparent once again. The fact that Hen Ogledd has already become its own best reference here should speak for itself.
Hen Ogledd has been remastered for CD from the original source recordings by Jim O’Rourke and is presented in mini-LP sleeves replicating the original LP artwork.