Skullflower and Sunroof


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Skullflower: IIIrd Gatekeeper (1992), 6.5/10
Skullflower: Obsidian Shaking Codex (1993), 7/10
Skullflower: Argon (1995), 7.5/10
Skullflower: Exquisite Fucking Boredom (2003) , 5/10
Skullflower: Orange Canyon Mind (2004), 5/10
Skullflower: Tribulation (2006), 7/10
Skullflower: others, 6/10
Sunroof: Delicate Autobahns Under Construction (2000), 6.5/10
Sunroof: Found Star Sound (2000), 6/10
Sunroof: Sad Frog Wind (2001), 6/10
Sunroof: Bliss (2001), 6.5/10
Sunroof: Cloudz (2003), 6/10
Sunroof: Rainbow Electric Sabbath (2005), 5/10
Sunroof: Silver Bear Mist (2005), 6.5/10
Sunroof: Panzer Division Lou Reed (2007), 7/10
Hototogisu: Green (2005), 6/10
Hototogisu: Robed In Verdigris (2007), 6/10
Skullflower: Desire For A Holy War (2008), 5.5/10
Skullflower: Malediction (2009), 6.5/10
Skullflower: Strange Keys To Untune God's Firmament (2010) , 7.5/10
Skullflower: Fucked On A Pile Of Corpses (2011) , 5/10
Links:

Skullflower is a loose group of musicians affiliated with guitarist Matthew Bower that perform wildly improvised psychedelic music. When it was still called Total, the project produced the cassette Hard + Low (1986 - Turgid Animal, 2012), already displaying an intimidating mixture of industrial noise, free jazz, dissonant acid-rock and even a 14-minute piano sonata, The Sound Of Music. It was followed by the four-song EP Birthdeath (Broken Flag, 1988) and the six-song mini-album Form Destroyer (1989). Ruins (Shock, 1990) compiles those two records and adds two unreleased tracks.

Meanwhile, Anthony DiFranco (also in Ax and Novatron) had his own project, Ethnic Acid, that released eight cassettes from 1986 to 1988, later summarized on the double-disc Power-Works 1986-88 (Industrial Recollections, 2009).

Anthony DiFranco joined Skullflower for IIIrd Gatekeeper (Headdirt, 1992), contributing to a quantum leap in quality. Several pieces achieve a superb balance of rhythm and sound effects. The macabre android dance Can You Feel It? for panzer bass and chirping guitars is an apt manifesto. Black Rabbit is a pow-wow war dance pierced by sideral guitar distortions. Center Puss is an even more gargantuan hellfeast, with the guitar roaring and regurgitating. Half of the album is one continuous bacchanal timed by tribal drums.
Most pieces sound like invitations to join the party. In a few cases, though, the dance moves to the background and the lead instrument delves into a psychological if brutal art of mood shaping. The guitar's delirious distortion pens the horror show of Larks Tongues. The sustained creepy guitar drones of Saturnalia eventually achieve an almost spiritual intensity. Rotten Sun mixes voices with the funereal bass lines, the carpet bombing of the guitar and the steady martial drumbeats, painting a fresco of life in hell. If Vanadis might be too chaos for the sake of chaos, and therefore loses quite a bit of the other instrumentals' demonic focus, the eleven-minute Godzilla erupts lava and unleashes enough acid to evoke the most painful techniques of torture. The trip closes with the the stoned blues jam Spoiler, that slowly decays into wailing drones.

Obsidian Shaking Codex (RRR, 1993) contains five lengthy pieces. The format itself signaled a change in the making. There is little of the previous album's tribal drumming and little of the wild guitar distortions in Sir Bendalot: just nine minutes of droning chaotic dissonance with horror-industrial overtones. Likewise, Circular Temple is twelve minutes of agonizing guitar distortions with no drums. Crashing Silver Ghost Phallus continues the progression towards a more abstract sound with a concerto for apocalyptic noises, halfway between the soundtrack of an intergalactic journey and a documentary of factory work. The martial drumbeat of the previous album resurfaces in the 15-minute Diamond Bullet, a failed attempt to stage a spoken-word kammerspiel. The 25-minute Smoke Jaguar towers over the rest. It opens with a menacing bass drone that turns into a strong wind of distortions and then grows to become a tornado. It then takes minutes for the tornado to disappear beyond the horizon.

Skullflower also released Xaman (Shock, 1990), the more accessible Last Shot at Heaven (Noiseville, 1993), Carved Into Roses (VHF, 1994), containing six lengthy jams, in particular the ferocious freak-out of The Rose Wallpaper and the prog-rock suite Metallurgical King, and Infinityland (HeadDirt, 1995), containing the 13-minute acid-rock pseudo-ballad The Idiotsburgh Address and the abstract soundscape of False Magic Kingdom, with the classic line-up of Stuart Dennison and Russell Smith (of Terminal Cheesecake's fame). The triple-disc Carved Into Roses / Infinityland / Singles (VHF, 2011) reissued the latter two albums with a compilation of singles: Choady Foster/ Spent Force (1994) White Fang #2/ Glassy Essence (1994), the 14-minute two-part Village Sorting (1995) and The Art Of Skullflower (1996).

Argon (Freek, 1995), a symphony in four movements featuring Stuart Dennison on percussion, John Godbert on reeds and Russel Smith on guitar, marked another phase transition. Argon I is sheer free-form cacophony like a bunch of drunk wolves howling at the moon and strumming random strings. The guitars duel to the end, each one trying to outdo the other in terms of un-listenable sounds. Argon II (The Golden Saw) is just 17 minutes of sharp drilling noise. Argon III (Each Builds His Own Wall) (Cruising At 31,000 Ft.) is a 30-minute concerto for mind-expanding distortions heaped one on top of the other: screeching brakes on rails, chainsaws cutting lead pipes, trumpeting elephants in the jungle, gurgling sewers, a mob of madmen demolishing their asylum, chimps playing bagpipes, epileptics banging random objects on the floor and scratching glass windows. Skullflower was beginning to compete with noisemeisters such as Birchville Cat Motel and Dead C. The horn fanfare of Argon IV has the irreverent festive quality of an Albert Ayler-esque free-jazz jam except that the blaring and farting horns are attacked by a swarm of chirping and buzzing guitars. Few bands sounded gloriously demented like this.

Skullflower then released the live Adieu All You Judges (Broken Flag, 1995), Infinityland (Headdirt, 1995), one of their heaviest works, Transformer (Sympathy, 1996), one of the calmest, and This is Skullflower (VHF, 1996), possibly a self-parody, with the angelic Lounge and the 40-minute live jam The Pirate Ship Of Reality Is Moving Out. Their sound was increasingly stuck in heavy droning space-rock. Skullflower had mutated from industrial metal into psychedelic folk with mixed results. Bower shut the project down for several years.

Total (which was also the original name of Skullflower) was the "ambient" project of guitarist Matthew Bower, documented on many releases: Beyond The Rim (Majora, 1993), Here, Time Is Space (Majora, 1994), Sky Blue Void (Freek, 1995), Glassy Warhead (Pure, 1995), Exploded Star Sad Servant (Self Abuse, 1995), Tansmusik Der Renaissance (Freek, 1995), Clear Factory (Majora, 1996), Buffin' The Celestial Muffin (Rural Electrification Program, 1997), To Fall Like Cherry Blossoms (American Tapes, 1997), Kaspar Hauser (Metonymic, 1997), Eternity's Beautiful Frontspiece (VHF, 1998), Solid Objects Cast As Goblins (VHF, 2000).

Matthew Bower's side project Hototogisu, mostly a duo with Marcia Bassett of the Double Leopards, released several limited-edition products such as White Wind of Autumn (REP, 2000), Cuckoo Cloudland (Destijl, 2002), Floating Japanese Oof! Gardens Of The 21st Century (Destijl, 2004), Swoon Scream (Heavy Blossom, 2004), Ghosts from the Sun (Heavy Blossom, 2004 - Important, 2005), Brooming Mephific Blast (Esquilo, 2005), Awful Symmetry (Heavy Blossom, 2005), Prayer Rug Exorcism (Heavy Blossom, 2005), Sardonic Wooden Moonlight (Heavy Blossom, 2005), and then Green (Eclipse, 2005), that refined their fusion of heavy metal and white noise, Sculpture Built Upon the Graves (Heavy Blossom, 2006), Some Blood Will Stick (Important, 2006), Chimarendammerung (Destijl, 2006), Robed In Verdigris (Nashazphone, 2007), Spooked Summer (Heavy Blossom, 2007), Under The Rose (Heavy Blossom, 2008), containing just two lengthy noise jams.

(Tradotto da Valeria Mollica)

Gli Skullflower sono una libera cricca di musicisti spesso accodati al chitarrista Matthew Bower, improvvisatore dal vivo di musica psichedelica. Essi debuttano con le quattro track dell'EP Birthdeath (Broken Flag, 1988) e il mini-album di sei canzoni Form Destroyer (1989). Ruins (Shock, 1990) unisce saldamente quelle due releases e le implementa con pezzi mai pubblicati.

Nel frattempo, Anthony DiFranco (pur militante negli Ax e nei Novatron), dà vita al suo progetto personale, Ethnic Acid, col quale mette in circolazione otto tapes dall'1986 al 1988, riassunte più tardi nel doppio cd Power Works 1986-88 per la Industrial Recollection nel 2009.

Anthony DiFranco entra definitivamente a far parte degli Skullflower con Gatekeeper (Headdirt, 1992), fornendo un considerevole balzo in avanti alla band. Diversi pezzi raggiungono un eccellente equilibrio tra ritmi ed effetti sonori. La macabra danza androide Can You Feel It?, col suo basso da guerriglia e chitarre cinguettanti ne è manifesto azzeccato. Black Rabbit è una danza pow-pow battagliera perforata da distorsioni siderali. Center Puss è ancor più una diabolica belva gargantuana, con ruggiti e rigurgiti di chitarra. Metà album è dedicata a un ininterrotto baccanale di percussioni tribali, che suonano come inviti a unirsi al party. Talvolta, il danzato si tira indietro oppure lo strumento cardine approfondisce la psicologica nonché cruda arte del disegno-stato d'animo.

La delirante distorsione chitarristica scrive lo show horror di Larks Tongues. I sostenuti e terrificanti drones di chitarra in Saturnalia culminano infine in un'intensità pressocchè spirituale. Rotten Sun mescola echi funerei di linee di basso, l'esplosivo tappeto di chitarra e beats costanti e marziali, sembrano proprio affrescare il dipinto di una scena di vita quotidiana nell'Inferno.

Se forse Vanadis potrebbe risultare troppo caotico per il bene del caos stesso, e quindi perdere un bel po' del focus demoniaco degli altri strumenti, Godzilla, una track che dura persino undici minuti, erutta lava a fiotti e sputa abbastanza acido da richiamare le più dolorose tecniche di tortura. Il viaggio si chiude con la jam-blues drogata Spoiler, che lentamente si spegne verso lamenti continuati.

Obsidian Shaking Codex (RRR, 1993) contiene cinque lunghe tracce. L'estetica stessa provava un cambiamento nella composizione. Rimane ancora un po' del sound del precedente album, con le batterie tribali e le selvagge distorsioni in Sir Bendalot: solo nove minuti di ronzante e caotica dissonanza accostata a ultrasuoni horror-industrial. In ugual misura, Circular Temple consta di 12 minuti di agonizzante chitarra distorta privata di batteria. Crashing Silver Ghost Phallus va avanti nella progressione verso un sound più astratto, dato da un coro di rumori apocalittici, a metà strada tra la colonna sonora di una gita intergalattica e il reportage del lavoro in fabbrica. Il beat marziale dell'album precedente risorge nella track di 15 minuti Diamond Bullet, tentativo fallito di metter su un kammerspiel parlato. Sulla durata di ben 25 minuti, Smoke Jaguar torreggia incontrastata su tutto. Si apre con un drone di basso minaccioso che si trasforma in un impetuoso ciclone di distorsioni per poi crescere e diventare un vero e proprio tornado. Ci vogliono alcuni minuti affinchè esso sparisca oltre l'orizzonte.

Gli Skullflower realizzarono anche Xaman (Shock, 1990), il più accessibile Last Shot at Heaven (Noiseville, 1993) e Carved Into Roses (VHF, 1994), al cui interno si stagliano sei lunghe jams.

Argon (Freek, 1995), sinfonia di 4 movimenti che vede Stuart Dennison alle percussioni, John Godbert ai fiati e Russel Smith alla chitarra, istituisce un'altra fase di transizione musicale. Argon I è pura cacofonia libera come un branco di lupi fuori di testa che abbaiano alla luna e strimpellano archi casuali.

Le chitarre duellano verso la fine, ognuna cercando di sovrastare l'altra quanto a suoni inascoltabili.

Argon II (The Golden Saw) sono infatti 17 minuti di massivo rumore trivellante. Argon III (Each Builds His Own Wall) (Cruising At 31.000 Ft.) sono altresì 30 minuti di concerto di distorsioni che espandono il pensiero, accatastate l'una sull'altra: freni striduli sulle rotaie, motoseghe che fanno a pezzi tubi principali, elefanti trionfanti nella giungla, fogne gorgoglianti, bande di uomini pazzi che buttano a terra la loro stessa casa, scimpanzè che suonano cornamuse, esplosioni epilettiche di oggetti casuali sul pavimento e vetri di finestra che graffiano. Gli Skullflower cominciavano così a dar del filo da torcere a maestri del noise come Birchville Cat Motel e Dead C.

La fanfara cornica di Argon IV ha in sé le stesse caratteristiche irriverenti di Albert Ayler nelle sue jam free-jazz, eccezion fatta per le squillanti e flatulanti sirene agganciate a uno sciame di cinguettanti e ronzanti chitarre. Poche bands avrebbero mostrato una capacità sonora tanto gloriosa quanto demente come questa.

Dopodichè, gli Skullflower pubblicarono il live Adieu All You Judges (Broken Flag, 1995) Infinityland (Headdirt, 1995),  uno dei lavori più pesanti, Transformer (Sympathy, 1996), uno dei più pacati, e This is  Skullflower (VHF, 1996), con molta probabilità una parodia auto-referenziale. Il loro sound si incagliò sempre più in un pesante drone tipicamente space-rock.

Total (nome con cui gli Skullflower vollero chiamarsi all'inizio) era il progetto ambient del chitarrista Matthew Bower, riportato su diverse pubblicazioni: Beyond The Rim (Majora, 1993),Here, Time Is Space (Majora, 1994), Sky Blue Void (Freek, 1995), Glassy Warhead (Pure, 1995), Exploded Star Sad Servant (Self Abuse, 1995), Tansmusik Der Renaissance(Freek, 1995), Clear Factory (Majora, 1996),Buffin' The Celestial Muffin (Rural Electrification Program, 1997), To Fall Like Cherry Blossoms (American Tapes, 1997),Kaspar Hauser (Metonymic, 1997), Eternity's Beautiful Frontspiece (VHF, 1998), Solid Objects Cast As Goblins (VHF, 2000).

Il side-project Hototogisu ritraeva Matthew Bower medesimo con Marcia Bassett dei Double Leopards in un duo che fece uscire svariate produzione in edizione limitata come White Wind of Autumn (REP, 2000), Cuckoo Cloudland (Destijl, 2002), Floating Japanese Oof! Gardens Of The 21st Century (Destijl, 2004), Swoon Scream (Heavy Blossom, 2004), Ghost From The Sun (Heavy Blossom, 2004 – Important, 2005), Brooming Mephilic Blast (Esquilo, 2005), Awful Symmetry (Heavy Blossom, 2005), Prayer Rug Exorcism (Heavy Blossom, 2005), Sardonic Wooden Moolight (Heavy Blossom, 2005), e infine Green (Eclipse, 2005) che cesellava la loro fusione di heavy metal e rumore bianco, Sculpture Built Upon The Graves (Heavy Blossom, 2006), Some Blood Will Stick (Important, 2006), Chimarendammerung (Destijl, 2006), Robed In Verdigris (Nashazphone, 2007), Spooked Summer (Heavy Blossom, 2007), Under The Rose (Heavy Blossom, 2008), che contiene soltanto due lunghe jams noise.

Another Matthew Bower project was Sunroof, devoted to a psychotic version of cosmic music on the double-disc Delicate Autobahns Under Construction (VHF, 2000), featuring John Godbert and Neil Campbell; on Found Star Sound (2000); and on Sad Frog Wind (Giardia, 2001), containing two lengthy jams of ambient music for droning psychedelic guitar.

The double-disc Bliss (VHF, 2001) offered a masterful blend of guitar, electronics and percussion that perfected Sunroof's aesthetic (?) program. After two facile chaotic whirlwinds of noise (Columbine Kisses 1 and Columbine Kisses 2), the 18-minute Chirrups Of Certain Being is not so much abrasive as grotesquely irrational, like a group of teenager randomly banging and strumming around the studio, performing a hysterically fast version of a Velvet Underground jam with help from a deranged symphonic orchestra. Minimalist repetition is both the forte and the limit of Sunroof. Great ideas (the fluttering raga of Gold Carnation Legacy, the Hendrix-style soloing of Star Sound, the bell tolling effect of Distoria, and especially the cosmic hiss takeoff of Bliss) get repeated over and over again until they lose their magic. The 14-minute Dirty Joke From Outer Space, that simply weaves bird songs and frantic guitar strumming, sounds like a high-school prank. The eleven-minute Her Peacocks Fly Amain fares a bit better because Neil Campbell's synthesizer intones a cubistic machine chant. Impressionistic moments tends to win, such as the sea of droning waves in Cloud Generator In The Blue Sky Of China 1 and the violent nebula of dissonance in Cloud Generator In The Blue Sky Of China 2. It appears that this sprawling demonstration of amateurish ambitions could have been pruned down to a modest EP.

Sunroof's epics continued on Cloudz (VHF, 2003), a more rhythmic work closer in spirit to Neu. Rainbow Electric Sabbath (Nature Tape Limb, 2005) contained five untitled pieces recorded in a more primitive manner.

Sunroof's double-disc Silver Bear Mist (VHF, 2005) is an ambitious albeit incoherent summa of noise art, from driving Hendrix-ian jams (Great Empty Display Shelves) to videogame soundtracks (Bear Melt), from sendups of classical music (the music-box from hell White Stairs) to trembling acid ragas (Blizzard Emblem Treaty) and to droning cosmic music (the 19-minute uber-drilling feast Placed Before The Burning Green Forest). Alas, the listener has to cope with the usual waste of disc space, here well represented by the 20-minute droning exaggeration of Sky Blue Sword and the 14-minute minimalist repetition of Stacked Diamonds. The winners are the two peaks of distortion and speed, halfway between digital hardcore and the coming follies of Panzer Division Lou Reed: Mariuana Suicide and especially Be Sure To Boogie, that sounds scored for millions of glass shards. Notable is also the psychedelic dementia of Luminous Kite.

Sunroof's progression towards a wall of noise continued on Panzer Division Lou Reed (VHF, 2007), that is basically Matthew Bower's equivalent of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, the heaviest and most cacophonous of Sunroof's albums. The colossal two-movement Slew Plateaus (for a grand total of 36 minutes) lays down an abrasive noisescape before the drumming introduces an agonizing suspense. The guitars still cannot articulate a riff. The second part begins with an even more primitive and distorted drone, like a Jimi Hendrix glissando that simply keeps getting more and more violent and cacophonous. All the momentum created by those chords goes up in smoke, disintegrates, never turns into the killer riff that one would expect. The intensity of this piece pales compared with the shorter Etoile Sauvage, that is pure metal machine music of the most evil kind, albeit with virtually no evolution. And no less virulent and vitriolic is Stairways And Terraces Descending One Beyond Another In A Stupefying State Of Exhaustion, sheer terror turned into guitar noise. Etoile Sauvage and Stairways And Terraces represent the extreme manifestation of Sunroof's anti-aesthetic aesthetic.

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After a hiatus of seven years, Matthew Bower resurrected Skullflower for the impressive Exquisite Fucking Boredom (Tumult, 2003). Its highlight is the four-part super-doom suite Celestial Highway, which is a sort of sequel to Argon. Its overture, Celestial Highway I, simply repeats a hard-rock riff and a pow-wow drumbeat for almost 13 minutes. Celestial Highway II takes 14 minutes to morph the guitar riff, still propelled by the same beat. Celestial Highway III increases the noise, but it's basically more of the same until it dissolves like galactic dust. However, Celestial Highway IV harkens back to the dense dissonant drones of Obsidian Shaking Codex, with additionally a bouncing quality reminiscent of videogames and slot-machines that becomes progressively more and more cohesive. It's the fourth movement that redeems the first three from their utterly monotonous dynamics.
The other two pieces on the album are mediocre, but Saturn is notable as an electronic version of Skullflower's classic droning sound.

Orange Canyon Mind (tUMULT, 2004 - Crucial Blast, 2005) was another hyper-noisy psychedelic freak-out. The cosmic distortions of Starry Wisdom, the harsh hiss of Annihilating Angel and the dense magma of Forked Lightning sound more indulgent than ever, and now even a bit amateurish. They sounded more accomplished when Skullflower was in fact the project of an amateur.
The best, or at least most dynamic, part of the album is represented by the epileptic voodoobilly Orange Canyon Mind and the gritty drones of Vampires Breath (over pow-wow drum beat). Meanwhile, Ghosts Ice Aliens is another attempt a` la Saturn to "electronify" Skullflower's sound, and Goat Of A Thousand Young is his first successful return to Argon's free-form noise, now bordering on musique concrete.

The noise further increased on Tribulation (Crucial Blast, 2006) reaching a point of sheer feral brutality. Bower found his inspiration again in Lost In The Blackened Gardens Of Some Vast Star, which is but one long modulated massive distortion. Dying Venice is less visceral but boasts a whirlwind of chirping and drilling dissonances. Tribulation unleashes an even thicker avalanche of noise but it also lets a distant melody filter through it. The voice is mixed with the screaming instruments in Silver Stars Rot Mindlessly, but drowns into a vortex of industrial clangor. Increasing the intensity of the dissonances, Void Of Roses flirts with the apocalypse at extremely high beats-per-minute. In The Depths Of The Stagnant Pond, instead, slowly but methodically buries the music into an abyss of senseless distortions. This Skullflower album sets in motion one atonal hell, the second best one after Argon. In the following years and decade many would attempt to match the same manic droning euphoria, but few would even come close to it.

Abyssic Lowland Hiss (Heavy Blossom, 2007) documents a live Skullflower performance.

Matthew Bower opted for chaos and violence again on Skullflower's Desire For A Holy War (Utech, 2008), a vortex of dense galaxies of organized noise.

The triple-disc Circulus Vitiosus Deus/ Circle Of Serpents/ Valley Of Scorpions (Turgid Animal, 2008) offered three hours of hypnotic loops, black metal, dark ambience, industrial music, and so forth, almost a summary of everything that Skullflower had tried over the years. Because of its hodgepodge of styles, Taste The Blood Of Deceiver (Not Not Fun, 2008) sounded like a fourth part of the triple-CD.

La Noche De Walpurgis (2008) and the live Pure Imperial Reform (Turgid Animal, 2008) continued to indulge in free-form guitar noise.

Malediction (Second Layer, 2009), another of Bower's most extreme works, contains only three pieces. The 24-minute A'arab Zaraq - Ravens Of The Burning Of God is the usual tornado of guitar distortions, except that this time it is coupled with storming drums. To Bower's credit it is not easy to maintain that level of madness for 24 minutes. It's a tidal wave of potentially deadly riff that never coalesce. Somebody is screaming in the background but it's hard to hear him, this too an existential metaphor.
The drums are even more hysterical on Ghost Bitch Of Black Flame, that begins mimicking a swarm of bees and that also include acid vocals buried in the ebullient mix.
The 17-minute Drenched In Moonsblood (Waxing Gibbous) relents a bit, and at this slower speed the suspenseful, melodramatic dimension comes out.
Extreme uninterrupted radiating noise had become routine for Bower, beating Japanese noisecore at their own game.

The EP Vile Veil (Noiseville, 2009) contains yet another lengthy noise-jam, Vinum Sabbati. The way it is mixed makes it sound like a colossal scream before the "swarm of bees" effect becomes colossal.

Bower and cellist Samantha Davies also formed Voltigeurs that debuted with Voltigeurs (Turgid Animal, 2009) and Tentacle Rape (2009), the latter containing three lengthy pieces.

(Tradotto da Valeria Mollica)

In seguito a una pausa durata circa sette anni, Matthew Bower riesuma gli Skullflower con l'impressionante Exquisite Fucking Boredom (Tumult, 2003), il cui clou si ha nella suite super-doom in quattro parti Celestial Highway, una sorta di sequel per Argon. L'apertura, Celestial Highway I, ripete semplicemente un riff hard-rock e una batteria pow-wow per quasi 13 minuti. Celestial Highway II impiega 14 minuti per plasmare il riff di chitarra, ancora propulso con lo stesso beat. Celestial Highway III aumenta il rumore, ma è fondamentalmente come gli altri, fino a quando non si dissolve in una polvere galattica. Tuttavia, Celestial Highway IV evoca i pieni drones dissonanti di Obsidian Shaking Codex, con l'aggiunta di un balzo di qualità che ricorda videogames e slot-machines, diventando così sempre più coeso. È il quarto movimento che riscatta i primi tre dalle loro dinamiche totalmente monotone. Le restanti due track dell'album sono mediocri, ma Saturn è ragguardevole in quanto versione elettronica dell'impronta drone targata Skullflower.

Orange Canyon Mind (tUMULT, 2004 – Crucial Blast, 2005) rappresenta un ulteriore follia psichedelica iper-rumoristica. Le distorsioni cosmiche di Starry Wisdom, l'aspro sibilo di Annihilating Angel e la densa colata lavica di Forked Lightninh suonano più indulgenti che mai, e persino adesso anche più dilettanteschi. Essi risultarono più apprezzati quando gli Skullflower riflettevano giustamente l'opera di un amatore.

La migliore, e forse la più dinamica sezione dell'album è simboleggiata dall'epilettico voodoobilly di Orange Canyon Mind  e i crudi ronzii di Vampires Breath (su un pow-wow di beat). Nel frattempo, Ghosts Ice Aliens è un altro tentativo alla Saturn di elettronizzare il sound degli Skullflower, e Goat Of A Thousand Young è il suo primo ritorno di successo al rumore free-form di Argon, che adesso si avvicina alle frontiere della musica concreta.

Il rumore aumenta sempre più in Tribulation (Crucial Blast, 2006), rasentando un punto di pura e feroce brutalità musicale. Bower si sentì nuovamente ispirato con Lost In The Blackened Gardens Of Some Vast Star, che non è nulla se non una lunga e modulata enorme distorsione. Dying Venice è meno viscerale ma vanta un tornado di cinguettanti e trivellanti dissonanze.  Tribulation dà persino libero sfogo ad una più spessa valanga di rumore ma permette anche a una lontana melodia di filtrarvi attraverso. Il vocalizzo è mixato con strumenti urlanti in Silver Stars Rot Mindlessly, ma sprofonda in un vortice di clangore industrial. Crescendo ulteriormente in intensità dissonante, Void Of Roses ammicca all'apocalisse tramite beats al minuto estremamente alti. In The Depths Of The Stagnant Pond, invece, la musica viene lentamente ma metodicamente seppellita in un abisso di distorsioni. Quest'album mette in moto negli Skullflower un inferno atonale, secondo per miglioria solo ad Argon. Negli anni a venire, molti avrebbero tentato di imitare la stessa euforia di drone maniacale, ma ben pochi ci sarebbero andati davvero vicini.

Mentre Abyssic Lowland Hiss (Heavy Blossom, 2007) è un live che documenta le performance del multi-trio, il triplo album Circulus Vitiousus Deus/Circle Of Serpents/Valley Of Scorpions (Turgid Animal, 2008) dispiega tre ore di loops ipnotici, black metal, dark ambient, musica industrial, e così via, presentandosi quasi come il compendio luminoso di tutto ciò che gli Skullflower hanno profuso durante il loro corso. A causa del suo  guazzabuglio di generi, Taste The Blood Of Deceiver (Not Not Fun, 2008) suonava come il quarto tassello mancante del triplo-cd.

La Noche De Walpurgis (2008) e il live Pure Imperial Reform (Turgid Animal, 2008) insistevano su un noise free-form ottenuto solo dalle chitarre.

Malediction (Second Layer, 2009), ennesimo lavoro di confine per Bower, racchiude soltanto tre pezzi. A'arab Zaraq – Ravens Of The Birning of God vanta 24 minuti del solito tornado di chitarre distorte, con l'eccezione che questa volta è associata a batterie stormiche. In merito a Bower, non è per niente facile mantenere quel livello di pazzia per 24 minuti: è una marea di  riff potenzialmente nefasti che non si fonde mai. Qualcuno grida da dietro, ma è troppo difficile sentirlo, questa è pure una metafora esistenziale.

Le batterie sono ancora più isteriche in Ghost Bitch Of Black Flame, la quale inizia a mimare un vortice d'api e include inoltre vocalizzi acidi seppelliti in un mix esuberante.

La track di 17 minuti Drenced In Moonsblood (Waxing Gibbous) decelera un po', ma proprio a questa velocità più lenta la dimensione melodramatica e la suspence escono allo scoperto.

Da quando ha ininterrottamente prodotto un noise raggiante ed estremo, tale routine per Bower è diventata un'arma contro il noisecore giapponese in termini di vero e proprio gioco-forza.

L'EP Vile Veil (Noiseville, 2009), contiene ancora una volta una prolissa sessione noise, Vinum Sabbati. Il modo in cui è arrangiata la fa apparire come un grido epocale poco prima che il “vortice d'api” diventi un effetto inarrestabile.

Per concludere, Bower e la cellista Samantha Davies formano anche i Voltiguers, che debuttano con l'album omonimo (Turgid Animal) e Tentacle Rape nel 2009.

The double-disc Strange Keys To Untune God's Firmament (Neurot, 2010), as well as its follow-up Fucked On A Pile Of Corpses (Cold Spring, 2011), presented a brutal and cacophonous version of Skullflower, that had given up on the song format and on the riff to focus on sheer intensity and fear. Hence Shivering Aurora (9:19) is just nine minutes of loud thick destructive distortion. Starlit Mire (9:27) stages a more complex kind of noise, still an utterly distorted soundscape but with the resulting register pushed to the limit of a church organ and a pattern of bursts that evokes a military campaign of carpet bombing. The glissando orgy of Enochian Tapestries (8:09) sounds like a remix by an orchestra of detuned guitars of Jimi Hendrix' rendition of the US anthem at Woodstock. The locus shifts from pure mindscape to an industrial setting with City Of Dis (8:07), a chamber piece for android vocals, radio interference and pulsing metallurgy. The geography then widens to cosmic horizons with the floating clusters of Gateway To Blasphemous Light (14:20), another piece like Enochian Tapestries that might hide a melody, however horribly disfigured in the process, reduced to the wavering wail of a damned soul burning in hell while monumental celestial bodies revolve and collide high above. These are musical essays of metaphysical consequences. The frenzied beats and the million of tiny biting squeaking animals that populate the chaotic Basement Of An Impure Universe (11:07) represent the ultimate apocalypse, Bosch's paintings on fast forward. Not much can be done to dissonant music after this kind of annihilation of musical forms. Had the album ended here, it would have been a perfect, highly emotional journey from nothingness back to nothingness via unspeakable pain. The remaining pieces do not add much, except to reinforce the sense of panic and desperation. The banging and jarring Blood Mirror Streams (7:02) is like torturing a corpse with extreme ferocity. Ditto for the hysterical chirping of Blackened AngelWings Scythe The Billowing Void (8:37) and for the relentless steel-insect buzzing of Chaotic Demons Fly In To My Eyes (8:41). These are all general rehearsals of requiems for humanity. The post-mortem autopsy ends with Rheingold (7:33), its manic drone mimicking the tone of a church organ and evoking the universal judgment. If there is one album that promotes Matthew Bower to rock music's chief painter of the afterlife, this would be it.

Valley of Fear (Legion Blotan, 2012) documents a collaboration between Justin Broadrick, Matthew Bower and Samantha Davis, a bit repetitive and self-indulgent.

Matthew Bower formed Black Sun Roof with violinist Samantha Davies and released Feral (VHF, 2012), with the distorted voodoobilly Lions & Peonies, the dense cacophony of Temple of Mithras and the harrowing abrasive drone with gothic bells of Night Mare's Milk, and the double-disc 4 Black Suns & A Sinister Rainbow (Handmade Birds, 2013), with the ten-minute Thunderbolt Cumshot Axis, that are even more chaotic and orgiastic than usual. The EP 3012 (2012) contains the hissing wall of noise of 3012.

Birthdeath (2013) is a four-disc collection of rarities from 1986-1990.

Voltigeurs abandoned the black metal sound of the first two albums for a cryptic form of industrial noise in the four lengthy jams of Carrion (Second Layer, 2012) and on Possession (Turgid Animal, 2012).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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