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Jowe Head - Widdershins

  by Keith How

published: 4 / 7 / 2019

Jowe Head - Widdershins
Label: Easy Action Records
Format: LP X2


Sprawling but creative and versatile double vinyl LP from Television Personalities and Swell Maps legend Jowe Head

Jowe Head is mysterious. Also slightly confusing. He has fingers in many pies. From post punk to nu punk to folk punk and probably no punk? Previous Jowe Head incarnations include Swell Maps, Television Personalities, Olives Hairy Custard and Psychic Tea Leaves. Present alternative possibilities include the splendid 11th Hour Adventists. Jowe Head is art, rock and experimentation. Jowe Head is a cosmic sonic adventurer and collaborator orbiting outside our normal vision in the counter culture. 'Widdershins' is Jowe Head’s new offering, and a sprawling double long playing trip to a whole different destination. Brimming with strange home-made noise makers, found material and ephemera which join hands with electronic weirdness and guitars and drums, this forms probably one of the strangest and unusual albums you might hear. 'Widdershins' is the word used to describe walking anti-clockwise or going against the tide and ploughing your own furrow, and that is exactly what is happening here. If you are looking for soft harmonies and gently strummed acoustics walk away now. This is possibly challenging and sometimes difficult listening. And why not? Jowe Head is dealing with the hard stuff. Dark and light, strange rituals, earthy rites and chaos. Then sometimes tenderness. 'Widdershins' is made up of nineteen slabs of anarchic art rock and is housed in a strikingly bold fold out cover of Jowe Head artwork. Only 'King of the Corn' stretches to five minutes as Head reworks part of the John Barleycorn myth as a dark folk chant. In fact the whole album has an earthy tribal feel taking on themes such as 'Baba Yaga', who is an evil Russian witch (written by Christina Brodie) and 'Two Ravens', a Northern ballad about the activities of the legendary birds. Throughout the album Head’s vocal style is mostly dark and menacing, at times bringing to mind the work of Timothy, Stone Breath and Dark Holler. The whole set kicks off with a creative version of the traditional 'Lyke Wake Dirge', before embarking into further dark corners of mythology and history, all encapsulated in Jowe Head’s leftfield psyche. 'Nottamun Town' chugs along mysteriously before a jazzy flute offers shafts of sunlight into the sombre mood. 'Extra Terrestrials', complete with cosmic sounds, thunders through inner space, while 'Half-Bike', which is influenced by Flann O’Brien, is as far from Syd’s innocent 'Bike' as you could get. Repeated listening of 'Widdershins' sucks you in to an otherworldly land beyond the wildwood (Ref: Robert Holdstock’s 'Mythago Wood') and to a place in our own world where, unfettered by the demands of contracts and expectation, free thinkers and artists can travel widdershins. I recently, in the light of the recent political madness, re-read Gwyneth Jones’ 'Bold as Love' (Gollancz 2001) sequence, and undoubtedly Jowe Head and his associates belong in the counterculture’s Dissolution Summer found in 'Bold as Love'. File Under: Uneasy Listening

Track Listing:-
1 Lyke- Wake Dirge
2 Tankerton Bay (The Street)
3 Minotaur Song
4 Nottamun Town
5 Ode to Krampus
6 Extraterrestrials
7 Joseph Cornell
8 Extras
9 Tom O' Bedlam
10 Gower Song
11 Trees
12 Baba Yaga
13 Half-Bike

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