If like me you’re a massive A Thousand Leaves apologist - it’s their masterpiece, darling - don’t hesitate to pick up Spinhead Sessions…you and I could listen to this kind of melancholy jangle and stormy-cloud doomswell all day long.
Although it seems to amount to little more than a glorified rehearsal, these recordings - made in ’86, some time between EVOL and Sister - sound anything but tossed-off. Spinhead is also easier to love, and a good deal less pretentious, than the SYR gear it will naturally be filed with: though it would be a stretch to call these improvisations direct, they do meander purposefully. The tracks are largely unedited and there’s time to inhale them at leisure - a relief after the rushed cues and blue balls of Simon Werner A Disparu.
Gothic in mood and minimalist in execution, driven by the sort of dry, insinuating needlepoint guitar lines common to Leaves, Fugazi when they swayed, or Raime’s sore Tooth, it walks a fine line between sounding elemental and, through no fault of its own (unless prescience is a crime), cliched…it’s proto-post-rock, which makes it, what, rock? Shelley’s drumming is a dream, loose but full of authority. Bert and Ernie keep the histrionics in check, opening up space rather than filling it. And come on, isn’t i’s a relief not to have these desolate ‘scapes sullied with vocals from, well, any of them?