Severed Heads: Dead Eyes Opened LP
Severed Heads are one of the longest standing bands to have emerged from the Australian post-punk and experimental scene. They began in Sydney in 1979, and were an early outfit to incorporate elements of industrial noise-generation, tape-cutting and looping, and electronic sound synthesis. As the project developed, song-structures and vocals were employed in a more-or-less recognizable mutant electro pop style. After many lineup changes featuring Gary Bradbury and psychedelic guitarist Simon Knuckey, the project became the solo vehicle for composer Tom Ellard. In 1983 Severed Heads released a C-60 cassette called Since the Accident that grabbed the attention of Ink Records, a subsidiary of Virgin in the UK. Ellard added a throwaway track at the last minute to fill out the cassette, not wanting to leave an unseemly gap at the end. The song, “Dead Eyes Opened,” was catchy enough to get a lot of airplay on the main noncommercial radio station in Sydney, and the band was asked to make it into a 12-inch single. For this extended version, Ellard and producer Patrick Gibson went to M-Squared studio and passed the multi-tracked recordings through various EQs and delays. “Dead Eyes Opened” features samples from a radio program narrated by Edgar Lustgarten, a crime journalist from England, referencing a double-murder case that occurred in 1924. The rhythms are made by a TR-808 drum machine and an SH-1 synthesizer. A KORG PolySix was used for strings and additional atmospheric elements. The lead solo was a Casiotone run through an Octaver foot pedal. On the B-side are two solo compositions, “Bullet” and “Mount,” that Ellard recorded at Terse Tapes in 1982. All songs are remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. Housed in the original jacket featuring the iconic photograph of a girl with a painted face wrapped in some cloth by Juilee Pryor, each copy includes a foldout newsprint poster with a large photo of the band wearing Art Unit skull shirts on one side and liner notes and press clippings on the other. 30 years later, Severed Heads are still paving the way for powerful, imaginative and challenging music.