Boomkat Product Review:
Richard Dawson, Rhodri Davies and Dawn Bothwell’s Hen Ogledd: Bronze is an utterly absorbing sort of avant-folk regression channelling ancient and contemporary spirits native to the region between modern lowland Scotland and north-east England, which was known as Hen Ogledd during the early middle ages (and no doubt to this day in its areas with a shit bus service).
Recorded within the decaying walls of Newcastle’s Star and Shadow cinema - a former hub for autre geordie expression - over the course of a day and night in November 2015, the hypnotic, buzzing results of Bronze form a timely reminder that some of the most crucial and inexplicably alluring music often comes from marginalised musical communities working beyond the usual hubs of influence.
From their perch above the banks of the Tyne, Bronze finds them discretely adding a new angle via Dawn Bothwell’s vocal and a plethora of un/conventional instrumentation ranging from Dawn’s array of loopers and FX to Davies’ favoured harps and Dawson’s even less ordinary “coalpad… cockerel… donut… frog… nuts”.
Whether in the atemporal scrabble and hum of Ancient Data - also featuring guest Laura Cannell on medieval double recorder - or in the stomping bruxist folk dissonance of Gondoliers, or the face-tingling synthetic sweetness of Beyond Belief that jaws open side B, and in the punkish, arcane R&B swagger of Get My Name Right Or Get Out! that closes it, this is arguably a sound that couldn’t come from anywhere else in the world, it feels like a uniquely mongrel node in the international rhizome of avant, experimental music expression.
Hand-on-pasty, they’ve made one of the most singular, anachronistic and compelling albums in recent memory, conjuring a rare atmosphere charged with psychogeographic and psychoacoustic treatments and underlying, historic energies of both their recording space and its wider region in an uncanny manner.