Video Roundup: Severed Heads

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Severed Heads on ABC Television's program "Edge of the Wedge" in 1986

Originally founded in 1979 by Richard Fielding, Andrew Wright and Tom Ellard, Severed Heads was an electronic group based in Sydney. They used synthesizers, tape loops, and an array of electronics to yield a distinctive sound, one which could most easily be described as industrial music, which later developed into abstract pop. While the lineup changed over the years, Tom Ellard has been the main continuing force in the group, up until his announcement of its end in 2008. In 1983, Severed Heads began integrating live video in their performances, which became a mainstay in their work. This post collects videos of the group, the majority of which date from the early 1980s, and many of which document their use of video synthesizers. For more information about everything Severed Heads, check Ellard's official site.


Below: Videos of a live set performed on Metro TV, a community video center, in 1982. The video synthesizer used here was developed by Stephen Jones.



Below: Severed Heads made an appearance on Rock Arena in 1986 to perform on an in studio set.



Below: Video for "We Have Come To Bless The House" by Stephen Jones and Tom Ellard. Video shot in 1984 and processed using Jones' home brew video synthesizer. This video uses footage from an earlier video for "Kato Gets the Girl".


Below: This is the original Dead Eyes Opened video which was filmed at a gallery called Art Unit in 1983 by myself [Tom Ellard] and the Art Unit people. It was shot on a VHS portapack and edited on UMatic at Heuristic (everything we did was UMatic up to the early 90's) then passed through a Fairlight Paintbox. It was reshot off a TV to add a bit of video glow / feedback. [Description from YouTube]


Below: Video made in 1985 using a combination of the Fairlight Video Synthesizer and homebuilt analogue video synthesizer. Tom is marched around the roof by Garry and Pedro. Produced by Stephen Jones. [Description from YouTube]


Below: This is an excerpt from an overly long video piece I recorded from late 1984 into early 1985. I [Tom Ellard] shot the footage on a VHS port-a-pak which I lugged around Sydney, Australia, looking for who knows what. I cut the scenes into small hypnogogic spinning a waving sections and layered up two passes on UMatic tape, using Stephen Jones' video synthesizer to create the treatments. [Description from YouTube]

Below: This 1985 video was created in real time as a video 'jam' or improvisation. It features a preacher scratched by Ian Andrews on betacam tape, fed through Fairlight CVI and analogue video synthesizer. [Description from YouTube]