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Swell Maps

Swell Maps were a British experimental rock group of the 1970s from Birmingham.

Influenced by the disparate likes of T-rex and the German progressive outfit Can, they created a new soundscape thatwould be heavily mined by others in the post-punk era. Despite existing in various forms since 1972, Swell Maps onlyreally came together as a musical entity after the birth of British punk rock.

Consisting of brothers Epic Soundtracks (real name Kevin Godfrey) and Nikki Sudden (real name Nicholas Godfrey) twoSolihull based teenagers, plus Richard Earl, David Barrington ...read more

Swell Maps were a British experimental rock group of the 1970s from Birmingham.

Influenced by the disparate likes of T-rex and the German progressive outfit Can, they created a new soundscape thatwould be heavily mined by others in the post-punk era. Despite existing in various forms since 1972, Swell Maps onlyreally came together as a musical entity after the birth of British punk rock.

Consisting of brothers Epic Soundtracks (real name Kevin Godfrey) and Nikki Sudden (real name Nicholas Godfrey) twoSolihull based teenagers, plus Richard Earl, David Barrington, John Cockrill and Jowe Head, the band cut the single“PlayRead About Seymour” as their debut in 1977, soon after the brothers left Solihull School (also home ofSpizzenergi). It is widely considered one of the classic punk era singles. Epic’s drumming mixed with Nikki’s uniquemelodies crafted over the assorted threads cast by the six musicians set the band apart from the others. Afterrecording their first John Peel session Swell Maps went into WMRS studio to record their first album A Trip ToMarineville, which was released in 1979. With hard rocking punk numbers like “h.s. art” interspersed by ambientinstrumentals and other experimental interludes like “Gunboats”, the album marked the band out as innovative non-musicians. The album went #1 on the new Independent chart.

The band cut one more album, The Swell Maps in ‘Jane From Occupied Europe’, in 1980, which pushed further intopost-punk territory. They displayed their ingenuity for creating everything from industrial surf instrumentals like theopener “Robot Factory” to perverse ballads like “Cake Shop Girl”. Even while they were falling apart during thesesessions they were pushing the musical boundaries beyond what punk originally had to offer. They sought to releasemuch of their early forays in lo-fi experimenation in the compilation, whatever happens next…, before splitting up.

Since their split the legend of the Swell Maps has grown, through their influence on the C86 bands, lo-fi, and otherpioneers like Sonic Youth and Pavement. Individual members of the band (especially Nikki Sudden, Epic Soundtracksand Jowe Head) went on to solo careers. The band’s catalogue has recently been remastered and reissued and furtherdips into their archives can be expected. An EP of especially zany tracks was released under the name of the PhonesSportsman Band in 1980. After an interval of over 25 years away from music, the Phones Sportsman Band has nowreformed in January 2008.

Epic Soundtracks died of unknown causes at the age of 37 in 1997 and Nikki Sudden died in March 2006. « hide


LPs
Jane From Occupied Europe
1979

3.9
39 Votes
A Trip to Marineville
1979

3.8
46 Votes
Compilations
Train Out of It
1987

3.5
1 Votes

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