Welcome to the world of dark brooding sounds, misted pine forests, underground lairs and ships setting to sea with dangerous cargo. A world inhabited by Minotaur’s, Krampus, Russian witches, Extraterrestrials and half bike/half man creatures.
No it’s not the latest film from Hollywood, nor is it a fantastical book from Neil Gaiman or JK Rowling, this is the current album from Jowe Head and it’s as varied and random as the song subjects suggest.
This is obviously the work of someone with lots on their mind.
We jump from the dark underbelly of industry on the opening two songs of ‘Lyke Wake Dirge’ and ‘Tankerton Bay’ where the music plays out like the hustle and bustle of a Cornish portside. Folk music is rarely this obsidian. Before we’re thrown into a Monty Python-sounding ‘Minotaur Song’ with pitch black humour and call and return backing vocals revealing that the mythical Greek beast has trouble dreaming due to his horns… it’s a crazy world that’s unfolding before us and you can either hit the off button or come along for the ride.
I strongly advise the latter!
‘Extraterrestrials’ is a diamond of a song, a total change in direction for the album, but it’s welcomed because if there is one thing this album succeeds at it’s keeping you off guard and throwing up surprises. ‘Extras’ is possibly a metaphor for the many overthrowing the few and puts me in mind of Pink Floyds ‘Sheep’. We take a trip back to folk territory with some songs before we stumble into the world of ‘Trees’ with it’s dirty bass and opening line “If you go down to the woods today….” But this isn’t the teddy bears picnic but another interesting slice of the inner workings of a busy mind.
‘Baba Yaga’ is my pick of the tracks (although I’m certain this will change after repeat listens), fans of Mike Mignola’s comic creation Hellboy will already be familiar with the Russian witch that lives in a house with chicken legs, but Jowe Head has taken this story and has come up with the bastard son of Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’ complete with crazy Kate Bush-esque backing vocals and a catchy disco beat, it’s bonkers but brilliant!
The album is tricky to categorise, and I’m not even going to try, it’ll either strike a chord or it won’t, but there is so much going on it’s difficult not to be drawn in to its murky world.
I often over-hear people say they would like something new to listen to, something different from the pop on the radio or the songs in their download lists, well, here we are, with the dark winter months coming, travel in a new direction, maybe even the wrong direction. In other words; Widdershins.