A mega evening of wild sounds and extraordinary musical visionaries! Featured bands:

Demi-Monde are a quartet led by Jowe Head (ex-Swell Maps, ex-Televsion Personalities), featuring the talents of Catherine Gerbrands, Tim Bowen and Ravi Low-Beer, playing futuristic pagan ballads, using cello, bowed saw, xylophone and analogue synth.

Woog Riots are a duo based in Germany, who play a unique brand of electro-pop.  Imagine Kraftwerk fronted by a girl/boy duo singing smart,observant songs about pop-art and consumerism, with a cynical edge.  http://www.woogriots.de/

Rude Mechanicals, fronted by the splendidly deranged Miss Roberts.  They play cabaret songs from a suburban vision of hell, featuring the virtuoso demon violinist Dylan Bates.  http://www.rudemechanicals.co.uk

April 2013: On tour in the USA

Fri    April 5       DJ set: 10pm , Marx Cafe, Washington DC
Sat   April 6       gig:  Baltimore Popfest, Charm City Art Space
Sun  April 7        gig:  Judy’s Bar, Washington DC (support:  Cigarette)
Tue   April 9       gig: Kung-Fu Neck-Tie, Philadelphia
Thu  April 11       gig:  New York City, Cake Shop  (supp:  Man Forever, Kinski)
Fri   April 12       gig:  Union Pool  (supp:  Fly Ashtray, Sapphire Mansions)
Sat  April 13       gig: The Flat, (supp: Missing Documents, What Next?)

Light & Shadow Salon event at The Horse Hospital





Dear friends of the Salon,

a happy new 2013 to you all! I hope the crossing was fruitful, inspiring, and that it fired your minds into a frenzy of determination and resolution for the new year.
Here at the Light & Shadow Salon we’ve kept the embers glowing while we wandered off awhile to gather new ideas, new stories, discovering new ways of looking through our own very eyes.
This glorious, lucky 13 year begun for us with a strong desire to build, to commit ourselves to the communal task of nurturing the minds, quickening the bodies, sharpening the thoughts, fueling the conversations, with greater vision and even greater courage. We want to continue to provide a place for us all to share the art that we make, with great pride and often under very difficult circumstances, but that nevertheless keeps us afloat in dark times, and reminds us constantly of what our responsibilities are as artists, as citizens, as sentient human beings, no matter how hard the times may be.
We have many surprises in store for the months ahead, including a publication and a festival, and I am very excited to share this all with you as the year develops.
To begin with, for this month’s Salon I would like to invite you all to bring something to share with us, whether a film or a poem, a thought or an observation, a drawing or a song, anything that reflects your feelings as we begin again, a resolution for the new year.

Here is an excerpt from a text written by composer John Zorn as a preface to his ARCANA books (the full text will be one of the offerings at this month’s Salon) that might put you in the right mood:

“Our present culture is in chaos, riddled with corruption, greed and materialism. A rite of passage is necessary to break from this maelstrom, to gain contact and remain in accord with the ancient continuum of creativity that gives true meaning and order to the universe. Art is one form of such a discipline. It is a sacred trust, and to honour it one must endure hardship and make personal sacrifices. The Dark Ages is a time for coming together, and often Art and Music can function as a call to arms.”

In this spirit I invite you to join us, and reignite the embers into full-fledged flames, more than ever we need this fire burning vigorous and strong in this long, dark winter we’re in.


doors open at 7.30, screening begins at 8pm prompt

The Horse Hospital
30 Colonnade, Bloomsbury
London, WC1N 1JD

Swell Maps and the “Solihull Vibe”

Swell Maps and the “Solihull Vibe”

It all started back in 1972.  I was shy teenage schoolboy science-fiction addict, constantly bullied by insane teachers and crazed boys in a madhouse called Solihull School.  I met a kindred spirit called Adrian, who was also into music.  He had started to play with a fellow called David and his younger brother Kevin.  Later we got to know John and Richard.  I got hold of an old acoustic guitar and a Russian balalaika, and proceeded to join in.  The idea seemed perfectly natural and intuitive; we would met at least once every week in various permutations and make a peculiar noise together, while recording what we had played – in order to listen back and marvel at the results.

There were various names, such as Cardboard Giant (Adrian and myself), Myrowe Fall (Adrian and David), Sheep Police (Kevin, John and myself), and Incredible Hulk (David and myself).  The sounds varied from abstract electronic noise to peculiar songs and whimsical tunes.  We had little money, so we bought second-hand guitars and we used radio sets rewired to accept the signal from an electric guitar as amplifiers.  There were also electronic devices made by friends, and percussion fashioned from furniture, kitchen utensils, etcetera.  We’d record onto a cheap portable mono cassette machine and lean towards the built-in microphone when we felt the need to chant or attempt to “sing”.  We did not attempt to cover other peoples’ songs at all; that was not the point.  We did not want to copy other bands, or to sound like anybody else at all!

As the years progressed, we gradually acquired more recognizably professional-type gear, such as elements of a drum-kit and cheap amplifiers from junk shops.  It started to sound louder and more like some monstrous mutation of rock music.  We had a wide range of influences to make our sound unique:  Nikki was into T.Rex, New York Dolls and The Rolling Stones.  Epic loved Gong and Can.  I was into Bowie, Soft Machine, King Crimson, Van der Graaf Generator and Captain Beefheart. David was digging Faust, Roxy Music and Stockhausen, John liked Henry Cow and some jazz, and so on.

During 1976, Adrian was mainly in London, busking and reporting back every month on the music scene happening there.  Meanwhile, Kevin and myself were at Solihull Technical College doing the Art Foundation course.  We met up with my old school-mate Kenneth Spiers (aka Spizz), who fancied himself as a singer.  We briefly had a sort of garage band together, and rehearsed together at my local church hall; I remember lugging my amp down to that place in a wheel-barrow from my parents garden!  We started playing Mott The Hoople and Bowie songs.  We later met Spizz again on the Rough Trade label, and he made some great records with his band Spizzernergi.

Adrian was habitually writing loads of clever, catchy songs by this time, and he was developing confidence as a singer.  To a certain extent, the rest of us became inclined towards developing his material with hm, but when he wasn’t around, things were noticeably more experimental, non-vocal, and sometimes down-right weird.  By 1977 we were aware of the punk scene in London, and of Buzzcocks in Manchester, who had released their own single on their own label, which was original and inspiring.  We decided to give it a try as well.  We called our label “Rather”, an abbreviation of “rather rude”, which was a reference to an amusing quote from the droll lips of  Robert Fripp, I recall.  We recorded three tracks in a cheap studio, found an affordable printer and a pressing plant who gave us a good price on a small run of seven inch singles.  Unbelievably exciting!  Even more thrilling was our first play on John Peel’s radio One show, and our first review in a music paper.

Adrian called himself Nikki, Kevin became Epic, David was dubbed Phones, after a character in Stingray – a puppet show on TV.  I became Jowe, after a Brummie expression for “fool”.  It was all very self-effacing, like a satire on more aggressive “punk” names.  We also encouraged others to record with us for the label.  Steve Treatment was a busking pal of Adrian, and we backed him on his 5 songs for an EP.    Gary and Jonathan were two more art students who had a great song called “Zip Nolan”, but no band, so we backed them on two wild tracks for a single.

Soon, remarkably, we were offered a manufacturing and distribution deal with Rough Trade, and by 1978 we had released four singles and an album out, containing highlights from the hours of material that we had recorded.  Rather than keeping Nikki’s more conventional songs and the more experimental side separated, we decided to integrate it all.  This approach confused a lot of people, and some found the  diversity too much to take in.  Others found our style too messy.  However, many people enjoyed what we did and we cultivated a growing number of admirers, thankfully.  We played live in London and around the UK on a regular basis, and even played over the sea in the Netherlands, and lastly made a tour of Italy.  Alas!  We were growing apart, and we were starting to have arguments; the alliance was cracking.  Despite a visit to the USA being planned, we decided to call a halt to it.  Perhaps operating live as an approximation of a “rock band” was not true to our nature, and we all needed to try different styles of expression. The band collectively bought the 4-track TEAC reel-to-reel recorder that we’d recorded most of our records on, from John Rivers at WMRS studio, so we could experiment with our various projects.

We continued to work together, as we had at first, in various pairs and trios.  I recorded a project with Epic, including the Rough Trade single “Rain, Rain, Rain” featuring my friend from Manchester, Carmel McCourt, but the album was never released, the finished tracks being released under my name and that of Swell Maps.  Epic started a separate project with Richard, and also played drums from time to time with Nikki.  David contributed to my recordings, and those of Nikki. In 1980 I inhabited a house in Londesborough Road, Stoke Newington, opposite Richard and Epic, so we were actually neighbours for a while!

Richard made a remarkable album, “The Egg Store Ilk” upstairs at Londesborough Road on our 4-track recorder.  Epic made a memorable single with one of his idols, Robert Wyatt.  He then played drums with ex-Birthday party men Mick Harvey and Rowland Howard in Crime and the City Solution, and again with Roland in These Immortal Souls.  Epic cultivated the haunting, distinctive piano style that he had displayed with Swell Maps, and later developed his fine singing voice and song-writing with a series of solo albums, which are well worth seeking out.

Epic died in 1997; I must admit that I had not met with him for a few years.  Sadly, we had lost contact with each other. Nikki and I played a set of Swell Maps songs together as a tribute to him in Berlin.  The same week, we recorded a version of one his songs, “She Sleeps Alone”, with a great Berlin duo called Vermooste Vloten, which ended up on their excellent second album “Ngongo”.

At this point, Nikki and I managed to stay contact each other more regularly, and make plans together.  We had planned a concert together in Berlin but, alas, he died in New York City in March 2006, only a few days before we were due to meet in Berlin. Nikki led a number of bands, notably The Jacobites, The Last Bandits and The French Revolution, pursuing a prolific recording career, and touring regularly right up to his premature demise.

I played a set of Swell Maps songs at tribute concerts for him in London and in Berlin, with Lee McFadden on guitar and Max Descharnes on drums; we even had the pleasure of Richard joining us on guitar for the London show.  This was a bitter-sweet experience, of course; it was a desperately sad occasion, but it was such a thrill playing those brilliant songs once last time.

Jowe Head Discography: Solo work and other projects


Jowe Head: Pincer Movement
Hedonics Records – Hedon 5 – 1981

Jowe Head: Strawberry Deutsche Mark
Constrictor – Con 00001 – 1986
(contains tracks from Pincer Movement, plus material from uncompleted Soundtracks & Head LP Daga Daga Daga)

Jowe Head: Personal Organizer
Constrictor – Con 00042 – 1989

Jowe Head: Unhinged
Overground – Over 35 – 1994
(Contains all tracks from Personal Organiser, plus bonus material including live tracks recorded at Hamburg)

Jowe Head: Bobit Juice
Quixotic Records – QX014 – 1996

Jowe Head: From a Parallel Universe
Topplers Records (Top10) 2006

Jowe Head: Pincer Movement
Re-released on CD by Poppydisc – 2010
(features extra tracks, including 3 tracks recorded with Epic Soundtracks)

Jowe Head and the Demi-Monde:  Diabolical Liberties.  Topplers – 2010



SOUNDTRACKS & HEAD:  Rain, Rain, Rain / Ghost Train
12″ Rough Trade RT 104 1982
Note: An LP entitled “Daga Daga Daga” was recorded and planned for release by Rough Trade in 1982, but never appeared. Two tracks recorded for this project were used on Jowe’s solo LP ‘Strawberry Deutsche Mark’. A further six were added to the 1991 Mute CD reissue of the Swell Maps compilation LP “Train Out Of It”.  See also Pincer Movement reissue.

Jowe Head:  The Legendary EP
Constantinople / Frenzy / Marzipan / Exhibition (Coda)
7″ Roman Cabbage (Grey 4)
7″ Get Happy Records (Small 01) 1991
(Joint release project)

Jowe Head:  Merman Blues / Baby Bounce
7″ Topplers Records (Top Ten 002) 2004



All For Art… And Art For All
Whaam! LP BIG 8 (June 1984)  Includes Lolita and February.

10 Years After The Goldrush
Constrictor LP (1987)  Includes Loco Train.

Own Goal
Goalpost Records LP GOAL 1 (1991)
Includes Adnan Khasshoggi / Dolls ‘R’ Nice and Shy Town / Chirpy Cheap.

El Dorado
Roman Cabbage LP Grey 2 (1990)
Includes Constantinople.

Candybars – Soixante Second de l’Avantgarde de la Technique
2×7″ Little Teddy LiTe728 (1995)
Includes Your Baby’s Gone Down The Plughole.

Seek Refuge
Garden of Delights LP GARDEN3 (1995)
Includes On The Inside.  This is a cover of the theme tune of the Australian Soap drama ‘Prisoner: Cell Block H’.

Perverted By Mark E:  A Tribute to The Fall
ZickZack CD ZZ 2008 (2004)
Includes a cover of The Fall’s Choc-Stock.

Falling Uphill
Windless Air Music (2004)
Includes Serpentine.



The Pastels:  Educating Albert
Cassette on Action Tapes (1982)
A compilation tape produced and sold by the band themselves, featuring early demos, rehearsal tracks and live material. Includes live tracks recorded at the Venue in Glasgow, featuring Jowe on bass.

The Pastels: I Wonder Why  7″ Rough Trade RT 137 (1983)
Jowe plays bass on the A-side.

The Pastels:  A Million Tears
12″ Creation CRE011T (1984)
Jowe plays trumpet on the b-side, Baby Honey.

BMX Bandits
What A Wonderful World EP
7″ & 12″ 53rd & 3rd AGARR 006 (1986)
Jowe produced this single, but does not perform on it.

The Bartlebees:  You’re Still Beautiful EP
7″ Little Teddy LiTe710 (1993)
Jowe sings backing vocals on the b-side, Little Teddy.

Vermooste Vloten:  Ngongo
LP Flittchen FLIT 5 (1999)
Jowe contributes vocals and bass on She Sleeps Alone.
Nikki Sudden also plays guitar on this, a cover of an Epic Soundtracks song.

Future Pilot AKA:  Future Pilot AKA vs A Galaxy of Sound
Sulphur Records CD / Dbl LP SULCD/LP001 (1999)
Jowe contributes vocals on Message from Control Tower.

The Long Decline:  Decomposure
Snifin Glue Records SGCD001  (2006)
Jowe plays bass on most tracks.

Valerie and her Week of Wonders
4 track CD
Topplers TV013  (2010)
Jowe plays bass, guitar, harmonium and backing vocals.

The Garment District:
Melody Elder (cassette release) Night People NP144  (2011)
Jowe plays bass on Bird or Bat.