A Colourful Storm

SCYTHE - Head X'Change LP

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Head X’Change is the brilliant new album by Scythe, a long-distance collaborative project of David West and R.A. Jones.

First appearing on two cloak-and-dagger cassettes distributed by Low Company in 2019 and 20, Scythe’s “expertly modulated space blues and isolationist architectures” betrayed a uniquely sleep-deprived, DIY take on kosmische atmospheres, where brittle, decaying synthesiser loops found solace in endless trails of feedback and reverb. Here, the feeling is distinctly colder and more paranoid, but not without flashes of hope and optimism.

West is a masterful songwriter whose vocal and instrumental prowess can be traced back a decade to swathe of solo and collaborative projects, including Rat Columns, Lace Curtain, and work under his own name. For us, Rat Columns’ Do You Remember Real Pain? (Adagio830, 2015) is an evergreen and was a crucial contemporary reference point during the compiling of I Won’t Have To Think About You (2017). Since then, his tireless collaborative impulse has been realised in groups such as Stairway (with Richard Ingham and Anna Savage) and Elizabeta (with Elizabeth Bruk), while Anaxios, a four-piece with Cohen Bourgault, Louis Hooper and Tim Loughman, sees West exposing the tension between his guitar and classical instruments in improvised longform composition.

Scythe is another facet of his wide-ranging musicality. A duo with New York-based electronics virtuoso Jones, they recorded X’Change with modest instrumentation but grand ambition, in the best tradition of DIY noise-making. A distinguished composer, producer and educator, Jones most recently released Sahrazad, an album formed by generative systems "whorling streams of synthesised sound" in contemporary surround sound formats, such as Binaural, Blu-ray, MP4 and Atmos Streaming. He is a member of electronic avant-garde band P.E and was previously involved with Gospel of Mars Eternal Tapestry, Jackie-O-Motherfucker and Parquet Courts, while being featured on albums released on Rough Trade, Mississippi Records, K, Blackest Ever Black, and Wharf Cat.