Rhodri Davies

Photo by Heiko Purnhagen

Rhodri Davies

Rhodri Davies is immersed in the worlds of improvisation, musical experimentation, composition and contemporary classical performance. He plays harp, electric harp, live-electronics and builds wind, water, ice, dry ice and fire harp installations and has released six solo albums. His regular groups include: HEN OGLEDD, Cranc, Common Objects and a duo with John Butcher. He has worked with the following artists: David Sylvian, Jenny Hval, Derek Bailey, Sofia Jernberg, Lina Lapelyte, Pat Thomas, Simon H Fell and Will Gaines.

For the last ten years Davies has been closely associated with the pioneering composer Eliane Radigue performing seventeen of her pieces. She composed OCCAM I for Davies in 2011, the first in an ongoing series of solo and ensemble pieces for individual instrumentalists in which a performer’s personal performance technique and particular relationship to their instrument function as the compositional material of the piece. New pieces for solo harp have also been composed for him by: Christian Wolff, Carole Finer, Philip Corner, Phill Niblock, Ben Patterson, Alison Knowles, Mieko Shiomi and Yasunao Tone. 

In 2008 he collaborated with the visual artist Gustav Metzger on ‘Self-cancellation’, a large-scale audio-visual collaboration in London and Glasgow. In 2012 he was the recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Grants to Artists Award, he was a Chapter Associate Artist (2016-19) and in 2017 he received a Creative Wales Award. He is a co-organiser of the NAWR concert series in Swansea.

www.rhodridavies.com

Featured releases

Originally released in a tiny edition of 50 copies in 2000, this recording officially marks the beginning of The Sealed Knot as a regular group. Interestingly, the liner notes that accompanied that release make mention, for the first time in print, of the terms 'the new silence' and 'Berlin reductionism' ......... although listening now, all these years later, the music sounds far from silent and/or little reduced."The music on this cd was recorded live at All Angels, West London and documents the exciting ongoing collaboration between young musicians working in London and Berlin. Although all three performers have travelled between the two capital cities since the early 1990's playing in various combinations, this is their first concerts as a trio. Beins co-runs the 2.13 Berlin improvisation club, with guitarist Michael Renkel, in conjunction with it's sister organisations in London and Athens. All three clubs are named after a stopped clock at the original London venue. Critics have dubbed Wastell and Davies' music 'the new silence' and Beins' German counterpart 'new Berlin reductionism'. Categories aside, this is improvised music concerned with space, texture and time, emphasised by the gently ticking clock at the back of All Angels as sounds fade into silence." (Original liner notes) --- Burkhard Beins / percussionRhodri Davies / harp Mark Wastell / violoncello ---Recorded live in concert by Tim Fletcher at St. Michael & All Angels Church, West London on 14 April 2000.

The Sealed Knot – All Angels

"One day, I hope, the story will be written. The story of the group IST and its relationship to the birth of the music that subsequently became variously known as 'New London Silence' or 'Lower Case Improv' (and yes, I use those upper case letters intentionally). Perhaps the learned critics (who seem very rarely to actually ask the musicians) will tell us just what our place is in this history. Certainly we were not the first - Rhodri and Mark were much influenced by Radu Malfatti and Phil Durrant (among others) at this time (or so it seemed to me), but we were among the first. From my own personal point of view, playing this new kind of provocatively distilled music seemed like a coherently radical response to the expansive intensity of groups such as Hession/Wilkinson/Fell and Descension. I have always had a certain sinful pride in the breadth of my discography at this time, and looking back I'm still impressed by the fact that at one period I was simultaneously playing with Descension and IST. These two groups have more in common than their radical diversity, however. Perhaps more than any other groups in which I've participated, each performance by these ensembles seemed to represent a kind of manifesto - a real challenging of the ways a certain number of our audience might have of thinking about music, and what it should be. But whilst Descension's discography amounts to one appallingly-recorded and long out-of-print CD, we are fortunate that IST was much better documented on numerous occasions. It's only fair to point out that IST didn't begin with the purity it later developed. The very early recordings released on the 'Anagrams To Avoid' LP show a group still wedded to the music of free, unrestrained activity. But the chemical processes resulting from the combining of Rhodri and Mark didn't take long to come to fruition (my act of introducing Rhodri to Mark and vice versa might one day merit me a footnote in someone's thesis). One such 'manifesto' performance was our appearance at Berlin's Total Music Meeting in 2001. Perhaps it is difficult for some people now to understand the significance of a group such as ours playing at the Total Music Meeting at that time. I don't intend to write this history now either, but from a free/improvised music point of view Berlin in 2001 was far from the place it is now - a chapter in the history of free music was drawing to a close, but for the moment the old ways of doing things still reigned supreme. We played the music you will hear on this recording - and not for the first time caused quite a stir. In particular, a younger generation of Berlin musicians seemed to feel the musical permafrost cracking. The response of the audience at the end of our set - those who had stayed - gives some flavour of the impact of this performance. Of course, this is all somewhat of a storm in a teacup. We didn't change the world, perhaps we didn't even change the Berlin musical world. But we did play a short but exceptional set; the music is here to hear, the rest you can decide for yourself." Simon H. Fell (May 2013) --- Rhodri Davies / harpSimon H. Fell / double bassMark Wastell / violoncello ---  Recorded at Total Music Meeting, Podewil, Berlin in 2001.

Ist – berlin

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