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Album Review

Severed Heads – “Clean” – [Dark Entries]

lexi glass   11/18/2020   12-inch, A Library

This 2020 Dark Entries re-release of the first full-length album from Australian electronic music pioneers Severed Heads brings these tracks to vinyl for the first time since their original release in 1981. The 2XLP deluxe edition includes a track that was omitted from previous reissues (“Food City”, A1) as well as a bonus disc with live performances, a cassette called “Side 3,” and the original tape loop demos for the album. Together, the collection is a fascinating look into how the band formed what would become their original industrial synth pop sound. In the album’s liner notes, head Head Tom Ellard recalls the trial and error process of throwing everything onto tape and seeing what worked. The approach makes for an exciting listen, a rush of ideas that includes varied musical influences (Ellard admits to disco and Kraftwerk, but the Throbbing Gristle early industrial sound also clearly come through), instruments they don’t know how to play (guitar, violin T7, T11, and even toy piano T9 find their way into the tracks), Ellard’s intricate tape work collages pieced together from fragments of radio broadcasts (front and center on the “The Clean Loops” T16), and the synth and sequencer work that became the foundation of their later sound. Highlights for me include the demonic voices and tessellated synth patterns on “Chiarivari” (T3) and the bizarre guitar jam “Unbreakable” (T22), but all are essential.

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