Widdershins is a term to describe the superstition against walking in an anti-clockwise direction, which was thought to be unlucky or even heretical. This typifies Jowe Head’s approach to music-making and to life in general; ignoring transient fashions and prevailing trends in pursuit of a personal creative vision. Distrustful of genres, pigeon-holes and categories, Jowe continues to plough a unique furrow, creating a genre of his own.
His background in playing with highly influential, pioneering post-punk bands Swell Maps and Television Personalities is evident here, balancing the dynamics of pop and rock music, with the adventurous use of experimental sounds.
Conceived and executed over the last five years, the material involves deliberately contrasting extremes: light against darkness, chaos against order, tenderness against wrath, melody against harsh white noise, past against future.
Jowe portrays the cycles of nature and our pre-historic past in ‘Tankerton Bay’, ‘Gower Song’ and ‘King of the Corn’, then imagines the distant future in ‘Long Live the Sun’, contemplating the prospect of the sun eventually dying. Enjoy the cosmic chaos of the intro of ‘Extraterrestrials’, leading into the spiteful storms of ‘Extras’, and then to the tenderness of ‘Cornell‘ (about the surrealist artist Joseph Cornell).
The subject matter of every song here is compelling: ‘Half Bike’ is influenced by Flann O’Brien’s bizarre but prescient theory about people and machines intermingling in his novel The Third Policeman. ‘Trees’ is a gruesome fantasy about nature’s revenge on humankind. The ancient ‘Lyke Wake Dirge’ is about the guilt of a dying person, while ‘Baba Yaga’, ‘Ode to Krampus’ and ‘Minotaur’s Song’ concern malevolent beings from Slavic and German folklore and Greek mythology respectively.
Primitive sounds from home-made instruments and found objects made from metal and wood, are blended with futuristic electronic sounds from analogue synthesisers. Obscure string instruments like bowed psaltry and mandocello are supplemented by conventional tools like guitars and drums, which are often used unconventionally.
Open-minded music lovers and connoisseurs of psychedelic sounds shall welcome this record. Followers of so-called ‘psych-folk’ shall hear much of interest; fans of Shirley Collins (‘Bolweevil Holler‘) and Fairport Convention (‘Nottamun Town’) shall recognise a few songs. Devotees of cult bands The Incredible String Band and Einsturzende Neubaten shall be interested to hear cover versions of their work.
Tracklisting 1. Lyke Wake Dirge, 2. Tankerton Bay, 3. Minotaur Song, 4. Nottamun Town, 5. Ode to Krampus, 6. Extraterrestrials, 7. Extras, 8. Joseph Cornell, 9. Tom O’Bedlam, 10. Gower Song, 11. Trees, 12. Baba Yaga, 13. Half-Bike, 14. Ein Stuhl In Der Holle, 15. King Of The Corn, 16. Long Live the Sun, 17. Two Ravens, 18. Bolweevil Holler, 19. Shepherd’s Lament.