[sic] Magazine

Githead – Landing

My first challenge…our first challenge is to stop considering Githead as a Colin Newman vehicle. Tricky for anyone who followed his career, (in all likelihood with snowballing admiration). Wire of course, (always Wire) whose best work blows the competition away. Even their par offerings (see last years Object 47) …well, blow the competition away. Then you have those seminal, essential solo albums on Beggars and 4AD in the early 80’s. (In my humble opinion Not To and A-Z are the natural successors to Eno’s Another Green World and Here Come The Warm Jets). Next up – more Wire, a sojourn to Belgium, production duties with Minimal Compact and a fourth solo offering (the lush, majestic Commercial Suicide). That gets us to the mid-eighties. He hasn’t stopped since.

Most Landing features that I have seen have focused on a Wire/Newman/Githead/crossover/interchangeable material slant. I must say this surprises me. Githead isn’t ‘Newmans backing band’ any more than Wire was/is. Newman is not the head git. To me He has always seemed to work democratically – something that sets him aside from natural peers such as Devoto, Lydon or E Smith. Thus Wire exhibited, and perhaps even fed off, a palpable tension caused by the fraught relationship of its members. Githead seems far more harmonious. This is unsurprising since ‘lead’ vocalist Malka Spigel is Newmans wife, Max Franken has worked with the couple since their days together on Minimal Compact and Robin (Scanner) Rimbaud is another long –term collaborator/friend.

Only ‘From My Perspective’ could be said to be a typical verse/chorus pop song. (and could therefore have fit on Object 47) I can imagine Newman singing this, which is why it is cleverly left to Spigel. In fact Newman only lead sings on two tracks, ‘Before Tomorrow’, a signature Githead workout and ‘Over The Limit’ a signature, snarky Newman Industry rant. I have lived outside UK since John Peel died and so I do not know whether they continued the show Grumpy Old Men, but on the evidence of ‘Over The Limit’, Colin Newman would be perfect. (“Endless analysis” – Should I take it personally? Actually they should also give him Peels late night radio slot, his knowledge of contemporary music is breathtaking but that is another story.) Elsewhere it is Spigel’s vocal that carries the melodic burden of Landing. A voice to be savoured, Spigel evokes the sweetness (and light) of shoegazers such as Lush only with a typical sultry European, dispassion. That is to say, not to the exaggerated, affected extents of a Nico but putting me more in mind of Broadcast, Stereolab or even Jayne Casey (for those who remember Pink Industry)

Githead, for the uninitiated, are neither ‘Newman dictatorship’, nor ‘happy-clappy version of Wire’. Spigel is key. Her basslines always elevated Minimal Compact beyond their peers. Bass is prominent on Landing and it throbs like a pulse, steady and true. Spigel eschews the melodic, high-tuned, chorus-effect style of, say, a Peter Hook. Her lines are disciplined, unrelenting rhythms more akin to early Jah Wobble. Sharp, propulsive drumming, splashes of pretty guitars, and those basslines add up to a whole different beast. Landing, for the most part, grooves. ‘Displacement and Time’ could be a double-quick relative of Massive Attack’s ‘Inertia Creeps’ and there are other nods to dub, funk, krautrock and even drum n bass. (‘Lightswimmer’)

Landing is the product of a superb marriage of styles. Indeed superb marriage, period.



Object 47