Founded by Richard Dawson, combined with harpist, Rhodri Davies, with the inclusion of Dawn Bothwell, Hen Ogledd have released recent album, Mogic, their third LP. The band’s name meaning comes from the Welsh name for The Old North and this record sees a change in the band, with the trio having expanded to a quartet with Sally Pilkington joining the talent, producing and recording perhaps one of their more conventional records.
This eccentric and varied, yet discordant and jarring LP explores many topics over the course of the ten tracks, artificial intelligence, witches, nanotechnology, pre-medieval history, robots, romance, computer games and waterfalls. As I said, it’s varied and does not adhere to those conventional albums that ponder on new loves, break ups, more blatant political issues, there is much at the heart of this record.
Psychedelic in a new age, this visceral record of samples and discord, hallucinatory textures and chaotic rhythm percussion is added to by special guest Will Guthrie, one of the finest and classiest drummers there is, who’s addition to this LP is noted. This Australian drummer has a tendency to work on the more experimental of recordings, no exception here with Hen Ogledd.
Love Time Feel is atmospheric, almost like a leitmotif, orchestral with sci-fi synth thrown in for good measure. Sky Burial includes more of the formula for a conventional pop track, albeit a layered, textural track. Problem Child incorporates these rather wonderful lyrics, “I live on a mountain, the only tall structure on this planet, the view is appalling, of grassy plains, grassy plains” but whilst touching a little on the sound of the Tune Yards. First Date at first listen is DIY, eccentric, and chaotic, a formidable listen, whereas Dyma Fy Robot, is a short, fun, yet madly discordant track.
Tiny Witch Hunter veils this great pop song with voice distortion, dark lyrics and unexpected jazz, a definitive stand-out track. Transport & Travel is an amalgamation of grumbles and grunts, which formulate a list of transport and travel, with Scottish spoken word samples layering over these sounds. Welcome to Hell is jarring up-tempo track, reliant on rhythmic percussion to lure us to hell, all in all a darkly textural record. Whilst this is not for everyone, I would urge most to listen to this, to expand their listening beyond their comfort zone.
Mogic is available now, via Domino Records.