...An art-pop grounded in technological modernity, not the tired styles of yesteryear.
Louis Pattison 2007
In the olden days, folk once would have referred to Githead as a 'supergroup', but given the cerebral, punk-inspired attitude of the personnel involved, such self-importance would seem deeply out of place.
Formed in 2004 to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Swim - the record label owned by Colin Newman of London art punks Wire and his wife Malka Spigel, bassist for Israel's Minimal Compact - Githead unites Newman and Spigel, plus Minimal Compact drummer Max Franken and on bass, Robin Rimbaud, aka Scanner, the electronica artist known for his compositions formed from intercepted radio and mobile phone broadcasts.
Art Pop follows on the heels of a promising debut EP and an album, 2005’s Profile, that didn’t quite live up to expectations. In part, this is because Githead are about flipping expectations of what an experimental group should be. Warm and psychedelic where Wire play icy and staccato, dealing in recognisable pop songs rather than abstract textures, it’s often an unusually conventional affair, rolling tales of emotional confusion and technological breakdown over bursts of My Bloody Valentine-style guitar, squirming basslines and cool, driving rhythms. ‘'Drive By'’ is an early stand-out, Newman’s barked lyric apparently pieced together from the nonsense text used in junk email to confuse spam detectors ('You are overloaded in your inbox today/You understand nothing in your inbox today,' he sings).
But Newman’s spat-out scorn is neatly balanced by a number of tracks sung by Spigel. ‘Lifeloops’ is a softly-sung acoustic number that simmers with strange electronic effects. ‘'Jet Ear Game'’, meanwhile, takes an even more blissful trajectory, swells of keyboard and circling guitar reminiscent of electronic-tinged Krautrockers, Cluster, atop which Spigel talks in a cool monotone, her voice distorted by robotic electronic effects.
If Art Pop has a flaw, it’s that it falls between two posts: too conventional and straightforward for the dedicated avant heads, but a little too arch and cerebral for the everyday rock fan. Taken on its own terms, though, it’s a definite advance on Githead’s singular, outsider aesthetic – an art-pop grounded in technological modernity, not the tired styles of yesteryear.