Hauntology House by Tom Ellard of Severed Heads

ABCArtsOnline_HH_level5.171954For the first time in its history, Adelaide Festival, in association with ABC Arts, has commissions a Festival experience that exists only online

Hauntology House is an interactive online music experience created and designed by Severed Heads’ front man Tom Ellard and hosted on from March 1 to April 30.

Billed as a ‘musical-toy’, Hauntology House is not a shooting game – there are no guns or bottomless pits to leap. It is a small world of sounds and scenes for the virtual tourist. In this game the player explores bunkers and ramparts for music-making gadgets both antique and surreal.

The indie game scene is starting to compare their work to music albums. As a musician I’m coming back the other way – I always wanted to make a music album which you could play like a game”, explains Ellard.

Ellard’s band Severed Heads (also performing at Adelaide Festival) started their career in 1979 cutting up tape and arranging soundscapes from loops of shortwave radio. Similarly, the game starts with a level where the player can create their own mayhem on virtual tape machines and radios. This level (level one) will be playable online at for the duration of the festival.

The next four levels will be available to download onto your hard drive to be played offline. Tom Ellard explains the next levels of the game:

… then you can go down a rabbit hole, literally. The full version has four more levels where things don’t really seem to make much sense. If you follow the clues you find a short story, understand and just maybe you find the right exit” says Ellard.

Finding the wrong exit brings things to a dramatic halt.

Well you do get eaten. But you can start again!

French philosopher Jacques Derrida coined the term ‘hauntology’ in 1993 and the concept has become recognised in popular culture, particularly in its obsession with the past.

The term has “…been adopted by the British music critic Simon Reynolds to describe a recurring influence in electronic music… by artists… who use and manipulate samples culled from the past (mostly old wax-cylinder recordings, classical records, library music, or postwar popular music)…
– Scott Hewicker, artist and musician Lawrence Rinder, director, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

Adelaide Festival Artistic Director David Sefton said: “I am delighted that Adelaide Festival and ABC Arts will be working together to launch this festival-first online experience, Hauntology House. It will also excite Tom Ellard fans like me to know that they can watch the live stream of Severed Heads’ Adelaide Festival concert on March 15 at

In a co-production with Adelaide Festival and ABC Arts, the two-hour Severed Heads live performance will be filmed and the entire concert available to watch online from March 15 at

Tom Ellard is currently a media arts lecturer at COFA-UNSW. He has had a significant career as the front man and creative leader of Severed Heads, the seminal Australian electronic group who were the forerunners for pairing electronic music with computer-generated imagery. Ellard has also produced commercial electronic music, scored for television and film, authored DVDs, performed live video in venues worldwide and worked in commercial video signage.

[adrotate banner="159"]
To Top