Brothers of the Head
Post-rock poetry (with Tim Sinclair)
Writing or rocking? Brothers of the Head – a spoken word, text and music based concept album about a social misfit and his unborn twin, a foetus trapped and living inside his skull – is a bit of both. But it’s as literature that the Australia Council for the Arts funded this demented hybrid, and you can bet it isn’t getting played on rock radio anytime soon.
Based on a concept pitched to me by poet / percussionist Tim Sinclair in 2002, for me this project was the perfect chance to learn something about home recording. With our grant money we bought a Tascam 788 digital 8-track recorder and a Rode NT3 condenser microphone, and set about conceiving a soundtrack weird enough to frame the tale.
In terms of any sound aesthetic, Brothers of the Head was, for the most part, a product of chance and necessity. A junkshop menagerie of old instruments, a lack of recourse to verse / chorus structure (we weren’t writing a musical, after all), and a bunch of freeform jamming colliding with a newfound ability to loop and edit – all of this dictated the sound of the finished product.
On the other hand, as a literary piece it took some serious masterminding, from Tim’s hatching of the mindbending concept to my suggestion that we each “play” one of the twin brothers: Tim the trapped “internal twin” rendered in spoken free verse, and me the repressed “external twin” who could only express himself via the diary reproduced in the CD booklet. Stylistically, my prose here is somewhere between my early novels Liadhen / My Boyfriend’s Father and COQworks, with a deluded first-person narrator who will surely be familiar to fans of Vanishing Points.
Whether the finished product had much impact is debatable – typically, though we pressed 500 copies we soon tired of promoting it. But from a handful of reviews and some scattered bits of feedback from friends and acquaintances I know it found some admirers, and that as well as starting me on my home production journey Brothers of the Head is something unique.