Freak out!

Rheinallt H Rowlands: funny name, no joke.

There has always been a place in pop for the driven outsider: the writer or performer spurred on by their own personal bob-a-job scout pack of demons to create sounds and songs the like of which have never been heard before. Those with time on their hands can often be found tracing a tormented family line through Joe Meek, Phil Spector and Brian Wilson to Climate Of Hunter-era Scott Walker and the great Jim Steinman. To this illustrious list, another name must now be added. That name is Rheinallt H Rowlands.

Rowlands' forthcoming album Bukowski is one of the most extraordinary releases of this (or any) year. Its 10 tracks feature a series of opulent orchestrations - lavish strings and sprightly harpsichord, crashing timpani, courtly harp and ominous glockenspiel - crowned with the fullest and most mellifluous voice this side of Bryn Terfel. The Celtic connection does not end there: the bulk of the record is sung in Welsh.

Rheinallt H Rowlands, it turns out, is not one individual but two. Burly, intense Owain "Oz" Wright has the voice, and demure, bespectacled Dewi Evans does the orchestration. The "long and boring" story behind Rheinallt's birth goes roughly as follows.

Miffed at not being asked to contribute to an official compilation album of songs by obscure Seventies taff-rock legend Geraint Jarman, Welsh underground godfather Alan Holmes decided to create an unofficial answer record, featuring 10 bands of his own and Dewi Evans's devising. Wright was the first of a series of guest vocalists, and when the track they recorded as Rheinallt H Rowlands secured them a session on Radio Cymru, a life story was concoted to go with the name.

This tragic saga of quarry closures, broth and one man's love for the voice of Ian Curtis took on its own momentum through a second radio session and a cassette-only album release, to become a fully-fledged alter ego. "It's a bit of a Frankenstein situation really," Wright admits. "It started off as a toy that we played with, but we've been doing it so long now that it's become part of us."

Anyone who has had the privilege of watching the duo perform can have no doubt that they are in deadly earnest. Observing the bemusement of those who have never seen them before gradually fading into beatific smiles is a huge treat.

The great thing about Rheinallt H Rowlands is their intensity. For all their juxtaposition of disparate musical forms - Seventies disco, Beach Boys harmonies, Johnny Cash guitar riffs and Morricone hoof-noises are just a few stylistic staples - there is never a hint of pastiche about them. "We don't want people to think we're a novelty band," Wright insists. "We're trying to do something that has a sense of humour but isn't a joke - there's nothing more ridiculous than people, especially musicians, who take themselves absolutely seriously"n

`Bukowski' (Ankst CD / LP) is released on 4 Nov. Rheinallt H Rowlands play the Swallow Falls Hotel, Betws y Coed, tonight, and Upstairs at the Garage, London, on 14 Nov

Ben Thompson

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam