Friday 3 December 2021, 8pm
The Sound of Swell Maps: a live retrospective presented by Jowe Head with guest musicians
"Over two nights, Jowe Head, a founder-member of Swell Maps, shall be presenting two different sets of the band’s output live on stage at Cafe Oto, with contributions from an impressive range of musicians and singers and artists.
The intention is to display Swell Maps legacy in a live context which presents the band’s multi-faceted creatively diverse output. Many pieces only previously heard on albums shall be performed live for the first time, and a few of them have only been released so far on unofficial “bootleg” records.
Swell Maps originally evolved in the West Midlands in the mid-1970s, and became notorious and influential as purveyors of a unique brew of punk and experimental styles. They were also early pioneers of the independent DIY label, setting up their own label and releasing their self-funded self-produced 7-inch single “Read About Seymour” in early 1978.
Jowe's role is that of musical director and arranger, as well as having a performing role. John Cockerill, one of the other original musicians in the Swell Maps scene, shall also be playing. Friends of the band, like Gina Birch (The Raincoats), and kindred spirits like Luke Haines (The Auteurs), David Callahan (Wolfhounds, Moonshake), Terry Edwards (Gallon Drunk, PJ Harvey), Lee McFadden (Television Personalities, Alternative TV), and Joss Cope shall also be participating.
It shall be a collaborative exercise, not in exact re-creation of the recordings, but to rekindle the spirit of the band, in all it’s diversity. Expect plenty of wild rocking sounds with the more guitar-driven songs written by the late Nikki Sudden, some of the more experimental pieces written by Jowe Head, a few eccentric songs by Phones Sportsman, and also some more tender piano-based pieces written by the late Epic Soundtracks.
There shall be plenty to enjoy for those in the audience with open minds, whether or not they are familiar with the original material. In keeping with the spirit of Swell Maps, there shall be a certain level of creative unpredictability, with improvisation, unusual instruments and found objects being used in the sonic palette.
These performances shall be dedicated in particular to the memory of my former band-mates: the brothers Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks, who are sadly no longer alive; they were crucially important contributors to the band’s development and the repertoire of material."
“Noisy and experimental, Britain’s Swell Maps experienced little commercial success during the course of their chaotic career, but in hindsight they stand as one of the pivotal acts of the new wave: not only was the group an acknowledged inspiration to the likes of Sonic Youth and Pavement, but their alumni – most notably brothers Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks – continued on as key players in the underground music community.” - Secretly Canadian