- by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:6 Release Date:2019-07-12 Label: Easy Action Records
"The former Swell Maps/Television Personalities man with his new adventures in weird psych-folk, dipping a toe in the waters of Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band, and Einsturzende Neubauten." So goes the PR blurb for the new Jowe Head album. Quite a heady introduction, and certainly a tough one to keep up with.
And it turns out a tough job after all. "Lyke Wake Dirge" starts promising enough with some Einsturzende Neubauten changes and dooming bells. But then "Tankerton Bay" and later on, "Nottamun Town" show why it is hard to keep up with the initial promise. While the musical elements support the Folk and Einsturzende Neubauten combination, Head's vocals sometimes do not match up to the quality of the music itself. Head's subdued Neubauten growl can veer off and produce a jarring effect. But then, that might be exactly the effect Head is going for here.
Musically, though, things sound top level. Both mentioned songs are saved by some intricate changes towards the end of the former, and some interesting flute passages in the latter. "Ode To Krampus" though works on both levels, Head's growl fitting the mood of the song. The same goes for the more rocking "Extraterrestrials" and fully blown "Extras".
Elsewhere, no matter how intricate the music gets, the vocals start to grate after a while. The fact that the album is full-blown at 19 tracks and almost 75 minutes don't help to that effect. Head has been working on this one for over five years and he probably tried to include more or less everything he has done, but some trimming might have been in order. Also, the full-on folk of "Joseph Cornell" is possibly one of the best tracks on the album, Head tames his vocals. Maybe that should have been the more prominent feature of the album. Overall, very interesting and frustrating at the same time.