Belerion : Les Penning talks about his new album (Interview 14/11/2016)

First of all, thank you Les, for having accepted this interview, it’s a real honor to speak with the man who contributed so much in the success of Mike Oldfield’s instrumental pieces such as Portsmouth, In Dulci Jubilo and Ommadawn!

Next December, a new album by Les Penning will be released, and it’s called BELERION. What's the concept behind the album?
My album, 'Belerion' is a journey of melodies - there is a connection between them which I am not going to explain! There is also a musical tying together, joining the first to the last. Perhaps you can find that too.

Why did you chose this title, and what does it mean?
'Belerion' may seem a strange and arcane name for an album. It is a very ancient name for Cornwall or 'Shining Land'. I do not live there, not bodily, but always a part of me remains where I have walked and spent so much of the best moments of my life. The album was originally to have been called '.......and the stones feel warm in Belerion', this is because once, in winter, I walked to the ancient well in Sancreed and along the watery path I felt the moss covered stones along the way and found to my surprise that they were indeed warm, and memory of this led me to explore what seemed to be a strange but usual property of the standing stones- they are warm. Cornwall is a place of stones. Stones arranged by man into circles and patterns ; there are designs in the landscape which defy explanation but excite the curiosity and invoke the inevitable mystery.

Actually Belerion is your first solo album ever, isn't it?
Belerion is not the first album I have released. Some years ago I wrote and recorded 'The Worldes Goodnyte' which is still available. It is cherished by me because it owes nothing to past influences and that is probably the reason many people who have known my other work can't quite understand it.

But, why didn't you release more solo albums in your career?
The making of albums has not featured greatly in my life because of being quite busy with other musical happenings which tended to pay the bills. I have made singles, though, with Polydor and Plant Life and there is a lot of recorded music out there which I have produced for the media and theatricals.

Les Penning, Phil Bates and Robert Reed

Two great musicians have collaborated with you on the album, Phil Bates (ELO Part II) on guitars, and Robert Reed (Magenta) as a multi-instrumentalist. How much did they contribute in recording these new materials?
Without the glory that is Phil Bates I could not have recorded this and without the genius of Rob Reed the album would never have been finished let alone pressed. The problem with albums is that I am not a very good guitarist! I play quite a lot of instruments but I do not play the all-important guitar. When Phil Bates and I became friends some years ago, I decided it was time to write some music we could perform together. Very much influenced by early music, I wrote some pieces which Phil said were 'definitely out of his comfort zone', it turned out, of course, that his comfort zone was infinitely bigger than he ever thought and his playing is magnificent. These pieces and others are on the new album, 'Belerion'.

The album will contain re-recordings of some previously unreleased songs recorded with Mike Oldfield in early 1976, right?
Yes, when Mike Oldfield left Bradnor Hill and we no longer graced the halls of Penrhos Court we still recorded at his new home at Througham Slad in Gloucestershire and it was there we we recorded seven pieces that were representative of our repertoire at Penrhos. Although they were intended to form part of an album I was making, somehow, it never got made.

In 2014, an album has been released with the lost sessions from Througham Slad, but then it appeared to be a scam containing fake demos of Portsmouth and Argiers. What happened exactly?
I kept the original quarter inch tape master for about 40 years and was finally persuaded to allow it's release by a man in Spain who I thought was trustworthy - indeed he appeared to have my best interests at heart. He made a second rate CD, added spurious, supposed demos, sold it for an exorbitant amount of money, then vanished into the mountains!

Mike is going to release the sequel of Ommadawn. Have you kept in touch with him since the first opus?
Mike eventually moved quite far away and the days of Ommadawn receded into history. It is possible his new album 'Return to Ommadawn' may invoke a feeling of those earlier times, I hope so.

Thank you Les !

Interview by Orabidooblog (14/11/2016)

Here is the first single of the album performed by Les and Rob, Portsmouth :

Follow Les Penning and Robert Reed on the official FB pages:

Belerion (2016) by Les Penning, with Phil Bates (guitar) et Robert Reed (instrumentalist); Format: CD+DVD; Release date: December 1st, 2016.

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The Maestro Les Penning .
Miguel Engel Arcengelus Christmas 2015: https://youtu.be/lL5pA6HWzT4