WhatFunLifeWas. Beheaded. Transaction de Novo. I had no idea these albums existed two years ago. I was unaware of Bedhead, the band that created this music, or the slow core scene in general. And yet I’ve always known this music. In a real sense, the music of Bedhead is the music that has always played in the quiet hours inside my head ruminating and reflecting on questions I’ve had my entire life. Bedhead 1992-1998 is a boxset of the band’s collected output, and to say that for me it’s become one fo the essential musical components of my life is not an exaggeration.
It’s hard to draw a comparison. After discovering Bedhead I didn’t go and chase down peers within the scene (though I also discovered the serene dark beauty of Low whose latest album Double Negative was one of my favorites of 2018). I didn’t need to. everything I needed was here. Debut WhatFunLifeWas sneaks up on you, its songs rolling like waves. Something like opener “Liferaft” or “Crushing” feel so intimate, as if you’re sitting in the corner of a living room as the band, cramped but comfortable hold a conversation with instruments, gradually crescendoing to a crash of sound that drifts away again.
There are moments when Wilco come to mind, although it’s a Wilco unconcerned with anyone else but themselves. Or the best moments of Sonic Youth, where you can almost hear the band listening to each other, tuning into wavelengths where words become unnecessary. It’s those moments, of which there’re so many spread throughout the collection, that speak to the feeling of being inside your head, holding forth without words or images. There’s a melancholy disturbance that opens Beheaded, the dissonance of the opening fingerpicked riff making the album an overall darker experience. It’s not without its beauty or its joy, however; listen to second half of “The Rest of the Day” as it increases in velocity set to the snap of a snare, the chords telling their own story of eyes rising to meet the day. Or the outright sun of a song like “Felo de Se” which rings with an exuberance that hits my mind like a dance in a field. In some ways Transaction de Novo feels like the older, more reserved cousin. Alike in many ways, from the dark opening of “Exhume” to the more raucous noise that ends “More Than Ever.” The band gets a little more rocking on “Extramundane” and “Psychosomatica” before ending on the languid shadow of the seven minute “The Present.”
I could keep going, but words fail. If you could look inside my head in the quiet moments, in the dark but not fearful moments, and if you listened very, very carefully, you might hear the notes playing. Or better to look into a wide sky with nothing for miles except you and and me and a trick of light a false with no lens to capture it.
That’s Bedhead for me.