Head Noise: Consequential Quasars – UK – DL/CD 
- Alaska Later
- Cubist Ballet 1917
- Quetzalcoatl’s Axolotl
- Tracey Emin
When we last left Head Noise, they had released their debut album, “Uber-Fantastique” in 2019 to round acclaim. There was a DL single that slipped by me somehow, but now the former trio has added a living, breathing [and presumably sweating] drummer. Making of them a quartet. One “Topper The Pops,” [can you spot the not-so-oblique Rezillos reference?] who plays an electronic kit here; all the better to goose the already “up” energy levels that this gang of Welsh Synth Punks were previously sporting. All well and good, you may ask, but is the result of their labors any good?
“Alaska Later” featured more of the band’s left field lyric allusions and references that place them in a club of one. The singalong Punk energy was charged up to the max with the buzzing guitars and synths matching the energy of the rapid tempo. The drop in the middle eight for some “handclaps” over the spoken lyric, which was repeated three times calmly with vocalist Mitch Tennant going full into the red on the fateful fourth bar of the bridge as the high velocity music came roaring back for another whip around the track before the song ended a quick fadeout. It’s Pop Punk bliss as recommended for fans of The Dickies as the player below will clearly reveal.
Next came a track that really shows me where the sensibilities of this band shine through the murk of go-nowhere, do-nothing bands. Who else would write a song about the scandalous mashup of The Ballets Russes with leading lights of modern art and music like Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Erik Satie? In 1917 their presentation of “The Parade” was a scandal second only to the earlier “Rite Of Spring” also staged by The Ballets Russes four years earlier? The guitars were possibly in a dominant position here with the track built upon the sturdy chassis of The Kinks “You Really Got Me” riff.
But the thrills came from the juxtaposition of Mr. Tennant’s near-sprechgesang, declamatory vocal, relating the tale efficiently in just 2:17. Best of all was the verse where he quoted from the letter by Erik Satie to a critic that landed the furniture music originator in jail for libel at the time. After which the cheerful synths made their appearance for a well-timed solo.
The pace changed for the next track. “Drift” recalled nothing so much as imperial period Cure with the Galluping bass line predominating against the minor key monosynth whistling through the graveyard. A possible outlier to a future destination, perhaps? The climate became a lot spikier with the lovingly titled “Quetzacoatl’s Axolotl!” With tight guitar riffs giving the sprawling tune a certain snap, crackle, and bop, the watery “piano” synth contrasted crisply with the Greg Hawkes-like portamento leads. The middle eight was a thing of beauty where the atonal synth patch looped into DEVO-space while new drummer Topper unleashed a furious double time tattoo.
The lyrical spotlight went back to the art world with a more contemporary subject in “Tracey Emin,” one of the more infamous Young British Artists of the 90s. Musically, the tune was more shocking than its subject matter. It came as close to janglefolk as I’ve ever heard this electrically charged band come, with Mr. Tennant floating over the meandering vibe in a most atypical minor key fashion. It only began to sound like Head Noise on the ending coda.
Well, there were a few different threads running through this “breaking in the new drummer” EP. With their last album coming after a run of early EPs, this one was eclectic, with a couple of classic Synth-Punk bangers sitting cheek-by-jowl with a few space probes into virgin territory. Of the experiments, I felt that “Drift” worked out pretty well, for a change of pace it really could not be beat. “Tracey Emin” was conceptually provocative [how could it not be?], but musically it didn’t manage to grab me. But your mileage may vary.
The band have made this one available for a easy-to-digest £3.00 for your choice of lossy to lossless better than CD resolution files! Oh yeah, this was the first 24 bit file I’ve bought from Bandcamp and a surprise treat in the sound quality department. And if you’re a hard format type of person, and don’t mind paying the shipping from Wales, there are 50 CDs available as well for only £2.00 more than the download. So act quickly. Word has it that the band are not standing still and may have another one ready this year as they are plowing their unique, creative furrow with gusto. While they musically have all sorts of [good] influences, the unique and vibrant point of view they bring to the table, steeped liberally in the art history of the 20th century and expressing moods and thoughts far away from the norm, makes them a more successful New Wave revivalist band than most.