Headgit is the product of Wire's Colin Newman, Minimal Compact's Malka Spigel, and Robin Rimbaud—better known as Scanner—and an expensive computer on drums. Explore the back catalogues of these band members (barring, obviously, the computer) and you'll likely stumble across dense, textured electronics, and highly effective, minimalist ambient works. With a collection of creative types with such a diverse and experimental bent, it might surprise that Githead's debut has more in common with Newman's early '80s releases—to all extents, Headgit is a pop-rock record.
But what a record it is. Six near-perfect slices of pulsating, rhythmic music that burrow deep into your consciousness, keeping you hooked throughout, but still providing enough depth for the EP to hold up during heavy rotation.
Headgit is bookended by a duo of instrumental tracks: Reset and 12 Buildings. The first of those is a mid-tempo stomp that somehow sounds like it's lost from a road movie—all semi-lazy beat, meaty bass, and precise, thoughtful, woven guitars. 12 Buildings is a rather more atmospheric track, closing the EP with a couple of minutes of introspective guitar noodling, 'found' background voices, and slowly-building meshes of rhythm.
In-between: four quality tracks comprising layers of warm, playful looped rhythms, chunky bass lines, and lively overlaid melodies—a stark contrast to the mostly cold, robotic nature of Newman's recent Wire work (and, in many cases, actually superior to that band's latest efforts).
Contrasts are evident throughout: Fake Corpses is built on a saccharin loop and layers of lush guitars that build and recede throughout. It could all be so lightweight if there wasn't also an inherent toughness in the foundation, which is primarily found in the juddering bass, but also elsewhere in the general rhythmic qualities. Standout track To Have and To Hold has all of these qualities in spades. The thumping beat, an unrelenting bass line, and edgy guitars create a tense atmosphere that's accentuated by the whispered vocals. Similarly, the rather more honed-down Profile is by degrees both insanely catchy and full of vigour.
If there's any criticism to be levelled at Headgit, it's that Newman's spoken delivery sometimes sounds at odds with the lush instrumentation. The words themselves—largely consisting of cut-ups "hoovered from the detritus of current day living" (email spam, magazines, mail shots, et al)—by their very nature tread a narrow path between insightful and totally throwaway. But with Newman capable of more melodic vocals, it's a shame he instead frequently chooses a stark tone. That said, the whispered nonsense within To Have and To Hold ("Her golden magazine smiles/Her daughter's clock is thinking/Now visual culture prepares for a fight") takes on a profound significance due to its intimate delivery. And the contrast of the chants and deadpan explanations of each line within Profile proves to be both catchy and amusing, somehow managing to bring weight to the most trivial subject matter.
Craig Grannell (October, 2004)