DAWSON-DAVIES: HEN OGLEDD

September 30, 2013

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Even before putting this on the turntable, I had a fair idea of how it would sound, especially after seeing the duo play earlier this year and after hearing their short interludes on Dawson’s The Glass Trunk. I was right and I’m glad that I was. Even without this prior knowledge, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the record sleeve is meant as some sort of abstract musical score, it’s white, wispy lines somehow meant to guide you through the noise.

From the outset, the tone is harsh and dense. Spiky, industrial electricity pokes at our ear holes, not really giving us much time to listen out for anything else. I’m not complaining though, I like having my ear holes poked, esepcially if it’s this much fun. Listen close enough and there’s something more heart warming beneath the cacophony. Certain points throughout the album sound reminiscent of vintage music box playing it’s tune. It’s quite eerie actually but I was ecstatic when I made that connection. Maybe that could be a new exploration in music: Deconstructing vintage music box tunes. I like being caught off guard by this record too. All throughout the first side I was lulled into thinking the pair had split and Dawson was playing us something of his own, only to be pleasantly surprise then the noise began and drowned out any sense of a solo excursion.

The second side feels like a lot more of an experimental journey for the pair. While it’s still loosely based around a guitar/harp duo that the first side shows us, there seems to be a plethora of different instruments, sounds and timbres at play here. I assume it’s an in the moment, highly improvised type affair and I find it easy to get lost in the detail. It almost feels like it could be a Geordie Marginal Consort, but one side of vinyl doesn’t usually last for three hours. Maybe I’m only making that connection because I’ve been listening to their new LP on PAN, but I reckon it’s still relevant. I’d like to see Dawson and Davies develop this exploration of sounds even further in the future, though for now this will suffice.

Hen Ogledd is out now on Alt.Vinyl.

As you can tell from the image below, they’re both very serious musicians.

dawson davies

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