The Listening Booth presents...

Owen D. Davey & Sim Hutchins

Headcase 1: Cigarette
10m11s ; 2016

Best experienced in a too hot bubble bath.

Headcase is a masochistic mindfulness meditation project by artists Owen D. Davey and Sim Hutchins. It aims to use the aesthetic conventions of guided meditation tapes, popularised by the rise of mindfulness apps such as Headspace, in order to reaffirm negative, rather than positive thought processes. The recording will therefore adopt a masochistic or guilty act as its subject matter, such as the smoking of a cigarette, and guide the listener’s thoughts towards a mindful focus upon the act’s destructive qualities.

Originally provoked by the very act of smoking a cigarette and the inherently mindful way in which this ‘unhealthy’ act can often slow down time and focus the user’s mind upon the functions of the body, this project intends to question the significance of subject matter within guided meditation and ask whether relaxation and perspective can be achieved at least as effectively via less embarrassing means.

The unspoken hindrance to connecting the obvious proven benefits of mindfulness meditation to the wider public is that, in their unrelenting calmness, openness and positivity, guided meditation sessions can often provoke a feeling of creepiness or embarrassment, particularly to a British public ill-at-ease with openly expressing positive emotion and whose ideas of the uncanny and the eerie have been influenced by characters within myth and popular culture whose characteristics often resemble that of a meditation leader; the disquieting calm, control and smile of a cult-member, a robot, a zombie. Headcase asks whether revelling in negativity, and the national humour to be found therein, can be harnessed to the same ends as its positive counterpart and, if not, whether a pleasingly twisted spokenword/electronic music experience can at least be achieved in its stead.

Following on from the success of his debut album, I Enjoy To Sweep A Room (No Pain In Pop), Headcase provides Sim Hutchins with a unique means of distributing a more ambient work, both informed by and informing the drawling horrid words of Owen D. Davey, whose continuing White Paint Spills In Public Places project offers a similarly banal, British and contrarian slant on ideas of mindfulness and shared consciousness. Both artists misspent their youth in the timeless rave scene of rural Essex and therefore Headcase is also a homage to the joy that can be found within the communal acknowledgement of playful aggression, filth and menace that carried on the back of jungle, two-step and grime and served as a self-aware counterpoint to the hippy-ideals that fuelled the free-party movement.

Headcase is a series and new sessions will continue to be released on the 13th of every month via Soundcloud.