Following on from the quartet’s previous album Mogic, with its digital overtones and themes of artificial intelligence, Hen Ogledd's second album Free Humans takes a deliberately organic and natural approach. Inspired as much by ABBA as the work of 12th century mystic-composer-naturalist-visionary Hildegard von Bingen, touched equally by the spirits of radical philosophical plumber Mary Midgley and PC Music star Hannah Diamond, as quiet as the paintings of Agnes Martin yet bombastic like a Werner Herzog documentary... it’s an album of seamless, glorious contradictions.
A band project comprising Richard Dawson, Rhodri Davies, Dawn Bothwell and Sally Pilkington, Hen Ogledd’s meaning comes from the Welsh name for The Old North.
Tackling themes of love, friendship, Gaia theory, sewers, the nature of time, human stench, and the thrills of wild swimming, it’s remarkable that, given the intense collision of influences and wide-ranging ideas at play, Free Humans somehow coheres into a marvellous whole. Hen Ogledd manages to hold both the tragedy of the wrongs happening in the world and also a sense of hope and liberation in their hands at the same time.
'A surreal, heartwarming adventure through the hedges and hedgerows of Britain’s musical fringes - an absolute masterpiece' - Uncut