Head Noise Dive Deep Into Synthpop For “Head Noise VS Metric Squid” Cassette

head noise vs metric squid
twomantapeco | UK | CASS | 2023

Head Noise: Head Noise VS Metric Squid – UK – CASS [2023]

  1. Sea Of Noise
  2. T.U.R.Q.
  3. Meteor Man
  4. Failed Ideology [Cult]
  5.  Computer Games
  6. Telecommunication
  7. The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades
  8. A Circuit Like Me

I somehow missed last April’s “Scram” EP from Aberdare’s finest Synth Punk combo, Head Noise. But at least I’m under the wire to discuss their upcoming cassette release of “Head Noise VS Metric Squid!” This one has a straightforward concept: four new songs on the A-side and four cover versions on the B-side. The band have done a sidestep from Bandcamp and are being distributed this time from TwoManTapeCo; a Welsh tape-only microlabel. Well, alrighty, then. What’s in it for our ears this time?

The classic CR78 rhythm box kicked off “Sea Of Noise” with the right sort of freeze-dried vibe for these guys. A subdued intro was deceptively introverted, for then the song burst into the verses, it had the snap, crackle, and pop of DEVO ca. “Oh No, It’s DEVO!” Clearly the right sort of goal for this lot. The piston-pumping rhythms and buzzing synths of Wayne Bassett and Jordan Brill have me imagining the band performing synchronized Keytar™ moves in the concert my mind constructs when listening to this snappy opener. Best of all, it eventually does devolve into a cacophony of synth trills and loops in its chaotic coda.

“T.U.R.Q.” was a dark-hued deep-cut with found vocals that sounded like they were from a 1973 episode of “Tomorrow’s World” describing these brand new “synthesizers.” As an Asheville [The Moog synthesizer factory is downtown] resident, I especially enjoyed the defensive chorus of the song that admonished the correct pronunciation of “MOOG™.”

It’s Mougue…
Not Moooooog!
It’s Mogue…
I’m told


It was then time for another banger and “Meteor Man” was another “A-side” caliber morsel of technopop. This time about a super-powered gent and his effect on us terrestrials. I liked the femme BVs that sweetened the chorus on this one. At under three minutes, it really left one wanting for more so maybe there’s a 12″ version in the works somewhere… please?

One of the most endearing things about Head Noise is that they’re not afraid to step out of the light-hearted, day-glo, plastic box that they normally exist in. “Failed Ideology[ [Cult]” doesn’t get too much darker, as it employed found vocal cut-ups and an oppressive vibe to get across the point of the song. That they took nearly the first half of the track to build the mood before beginning the song in earnest showed a lack of fear that was admirable.

After that smorgasbord of technopop both light and dark, it was time for the band’s plunge into covers. When I saw the tracks, I knew of this gambit, and wondered if they were playing a YMO cover with “Computer Games.” That would fit right in, I thought, but my mistake was in not seeing the plural in that name. By all that’s holy, the band were instead covering Mi-Sex’s transcendental 1979 single of “Computer Games!”

My undying ardor for this song led me to write one of my earliest posts about it when starting this blog and it remains a song that I can never listen to only once, if I start! That I eventually listened to this whole release by Head Noise speaks highly about how much I value their own songs! While it’s true that I listened to “Computer Games” three times before finally moving on! It is a respectful cover that doesn’t try overly hard to move outside of the outlines of the song; owing to their perfection. That said, the squelchy synth hooks on the repeated ‘pew-pew-pew’ of the chorus was a genius move. If this version mysteriously replaced all extant copies of the Mi-Sex original, I would hardly raise an eyebrow!

Next we got a beefy version of A Flock Of Seagull’s perky foundational hit “Telecommunication.” The driving beat from Andrew Walsh supported the heavier load of synths that this one was carrying rather nicely. Keeping the claps on the backbeat hook and goosing the synth hook to become ever more chirpy.

As much as I am over the moon about “Computer Gamnes,” I have to admit that the band’s transformational take on Timbuk 3’s “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” is the most stunning cover here. Timbuk 3 had geek-cred with the song, but it never transcended its busker origins. Put the anemic original right out of your head as Head Noise took this deep into technopop territory!

Right up front, the heavy oscillating synth riffs seemed but from DEVO’s “That’s Good” as they completely recast the vibe of the song into an unparalleled Synth Punk stomper! The “red alert” synth hook was mind bogglingly more appropriate to the lyrical content of the song…finally. I have to admit that I especially loved how vocalist Mitch Tennant drawled “things are going great, and they’re only getting betterrrr…” on the chorus. A tasty wailing synth solo also gave us a memorable middle eight for the first time ever in this song. No matter how we slice it this was a triumph for Head Noise.

Finally, they wrapped up the tape with a song that managed to make this elderly New Waver resort to an internet search. I’ll have to admit, that I had never heard of, much less heard The Metronomes “A Circuit Like Me.” But what we got here suggested that this was one of those obscure Minimal Synth tracks that now cost three figures to buy on the original wax. [checks] Yep. Exactly that! Head Noise followed the original closely enough to have gotten a woman to intone the [vocoded this time] vocal rather than vocalist Tennant. The resulting song was certainly more richly recorded but otherwise, didn’t make many waves.

I suspect that in concert, Head Noise might have salted their sets with the occasional cover tunes for some good fun, but this may have been the first time I’d heard them indulging on one of their releases. It certainly was great fun. I cannot stop listening to “Computer Games” because, well… “Computer Games!” It’s just like that for me, but their transformative take on “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” has me wondering what other great songs with less than great performances that they might be able to similarly rehabilitate. And as usual, the band’s own geeky technopop is its own reward.

Their tape goes on sale on Sunday, the same day that they are having their cassette-release gig at The Moon, Cardiff Wales with Atomic Supermen, Linus-Fitness Centre, and Jambles as support. Only 50 copies of this tape are out there so we have to hope that there will eventually be salvation in downloads for the rest of us. I’m here to tell you that you cannot live without another version of “Computer Games” to brighten your world! As of Sunday, April 23rd [it’s not in the store until then], D.J. hit that button!

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About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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