SKULL DEFEKTS, THE 2013-3012 (Thrill Jockey) 12" 15.98
Swedish rhythmic post everything combo Skull Defekts have always been tough to pin down, their sound changing dramatically with seemingly every release, although it seems that gone are the days of the dense and brutal drones that defined their early records, the band blossoming into their current form, meditative and repetitive, rhythmic and sort of post rocky actually, this latest record culled from a single day's recording session, undertaken mid US tour, with Daniel Higgs accompanying them on vocals, and aQ faves Zomes opening up, so given the opportunity everyone piled into the studio, and recorded three tracks, the first of which is a loping, drum heavy groove, with Higgs laying down his unique and twisted vocalizing over the top, even bellowing at one point "The Skull Defekts salute you!", the music lush and gorgeously mesmerizing, with organs swirling, guitars churning, loping and hypnotic and trancelike. The second track starts off with just drums, then some detuned dirgelike riffage, again Higgs in full shaman mode, delivering another selection of cosmic wisdom, crooning, bellowing, mewling, the music slithery and lugubrious, all manner of random percussion peppering that dirgelike groove, like the first track, all about repetition, circular, cyclical, total ritualistic sonic trance out. Finally, the last track, which is a gorgeously understated bit of meditative mesmer, hazy organ drones, wheezing harmonium, a minimal mini raga, Higgs practically whispering, his delicate croon wreathed in those lush, layered drones. So lovely. And as if that wasn't enough the whole record is repeated on the B side in reverse, the record playing from the inside out, as if the B side is literally taking up right where the A side leaves off, and as you no doubt know about us by now, we love backwards sounds, they just make everything sounds more tripped out and psychedelic, which is true even here, the backwards versions somehow also darker, and more intense, more demonically harrowing, the perfect balance for the A side, forwards and backwards, light and darkness, good and evil.
"Children Of The Skull Defekts" MPEG Stream:
"Beyond Within" MPEG Stream:
"Stkefed Lluks Eht Fo Nerdlihc"
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE Blood Spirits and Drums are Singing (Conspiracy) cd 15.98
Fuck yeah! Another Skull Defekts record. Hard to believe they were once one of those super obscure bands with practically no releases outside a cassette or a cd-r or two, considering now it seems like every decent label around wants a piece of these guys. And for good reason. SD are a total AQ sonic dream team, heavy and hypnotic, looped and rhythmic, clattery and chaotic. Usually we get a bit fed up when a band suddenly releases record after record after record, but in some cases, we're willing to make an exception, and we'll of course make one for these guys, since we're dying to hear more and more. Every label around wants a piece of these guys and that's just fine, cuz every disc we've heard we love, and this one is no different. Well, no different in that respect, but sonically, there is a big difference. Whereas all the other records we've heard have been super abstract affairs, rooted heavily in rhythm for sure, but mostly ambient and drone-y and looped, with the various rhythms part of a bigger whole, dark soundscapes of creaks and groans and rumbles and whirs, all held firmly in place by fragmented rhythms, and looped percussion, this one sounds more like the work of a band. A -rock- band. Not to say it isn't still dark and hypnotic, looped and rhythmic, it's just this time, there's, well, there's singing for one, and while vocals may have been present on the other discs, here's it's as much a part of the music as the riff or the rhythm. The fact that it's a quartet, two guys handling guitars and "machinery", two other guys handling percussion and drums and again "machinery", the sound here starts to make more sense. Essentially two drummers and two guitarists, who lock into killer hypnotic grooves, that slowly mutate and spread out, change shape and transform. The core rhythm stays the same, with subtle variations, the guitars too remain mostly static, with little flourishes and filigree here and there, but they seem to be traveling through a world of sound that is constantly changing, thick washes of distorted grime, flurries of glitchy static, haunting alien FX, and of course the occasional bit of new wavish sounding vocals. The opening track is the perfect example of this, an extended nine minute jam, totally motorik and hypnotic, the background noise building and building to a frenzy, a the drums pound along relentlessly. Like Dutch hypno metallers Gore crossed with Australian minimalist jazzbos the Necks. But then something strange happens in track two. The track starts off with just drums, then some angular guitars, then the vocals kick in, some cool percussion, and suddenly we're not so much in some European art rock mathrock jam, or some avant minimal kraut groove, no we're on some late eighties post punk dancefloor. All black lights and throbbing bass, downright funky, the vocals a snarling sneering punk rock scowl. Not hard to imagine this sound fitting right in between Television and Suicide and ESG. Or maybe imagine some modern day East Coast post punk mathrockers getting their Wire on. Weird, unexpected, but it sorta suits them. The next track, combines the two, an awesome angular postpunk riff, some more distorted new wave vocals, over a churning bass and some pounding drums, into a churning repetitive metallic post punk groove. The rest of the disc continues in the same direction, the band spewing out some killer looped repetitive post punk metallic new wave pound. Makes you want to pogo and bang your head at the same time. Each track only one or two parts, transformed into extended dronedirgedancefloor workouts, the highlight being the nearly 11 minute "The Sound", a static jagged stab of sound repeated metronome like over a chugging distorted guitars, a simple pounding snare, wreathed in lots of low end bass rumble and guitar noise and some slithery sexy vocals, which made us think of a much heavier, more abrasive Girls Against Boys. We've been digging this record like crazy, after we got over the initial surprise of the new songier sound, and while that might alienate some of the more industrial dronescape folks out there, the rest of you should definitely check it out, and maybe this 'Defekts record is just the thing to get some of the kids digging all this postpunknewwave revival stuff, into something a bit more fucked up and far out. Either way, we love it!
"Unholy Drums Are Singing" MPEG Stream:
"Rhythm Is The Key"
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE DFX (Cut Hands) cd-r 9.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. **SALE **SALE* *SALE** Another new one from Swedish noisemakers Skull Defekts, who like much of the new breed of cd-r underground outfits, have gone from unknown to prolific in the blink of an eye. This latest comes courtesy of the Cut Hands label, and is crazy limited, only a hundred copiesÉ And while past Defekts records have been strongly rooted in rhythm, this two tracker is much more about texture and mood, timbre and ambience, with any rhythm merely a muted pulse, a submerged throb, or a bit of dizzying skipped looping. The opening track is 21 minutes of low end murk, soft shimmering drift, smeared pixilated glitch, moaning bass tones, a distant swirl of disembodied voices, croaks and creaks, blurred into another buzzy layer, the track building in intensity, the tones growing thicker and more corrosive, streaks of feedback draped over sonorous tones, all wrapped in a whirring cloud of soft insectoid buzz. The second track, also 21 minutes, is much more chaotic and confusional, voices swirl dizzily, chunks of glitchy electronics suspended in a roiling sea of constant low end buzz, smears of malfunctioning effects, sine wave skree and crumbling distortion, all looped into some haunting post industrial collage, eventually smoothing out into a long stretch of layered rumble and whir, but still shot through with jagged shards of percussive clatter and sizzling electronic grind. Sort of Pan Sonic meets Wolf Eyes which is most definitely a good thing. LIMITED TO 100 COPIES. Packaged in cool oversized, textured paper, three color silkscreened gatefold sleeves, the disc attached to a nub on one of the panels, a printed black and white insert, each disc hand painted.
"DFX 1" MPEG Stream:
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE Drone Drug (Release The Bats) cd 17.98
Holy drone!! This is not at all what we expected from these guys, but then, most Skull Defekts records tend to confuse or confound. Which is pretty much why we love them so. And who are we to turn up our noses art a sonic surprise, especially when that surprise is DRONES. Big thick buzzy snarling crumbling blown out low end buzzing writhing brain melting, ear drum crushing, rib cage rattling, speaker destroying drones. Skull Defekts are no stranger to the drone, and the fact that they called this record Drone Drug, should have been a clue, but the band, who in the past have been heavily rhythmic, have discarded pretty much everything except for the drone. No beats, no riffs, no recognizable instruments, nothing but deep dark drones. This is a seriously heavy record. Dense and brutal, four extended tracks, each an exercise in tension, long form extended tones, but within these, stretched out sounds, much like dronelord Phill Niblock, the various layers are surprisingly active, throbbing and pulsing, and twisting and slithering and buzzing and whirring and shimmering, the sounds rough and raw, bits crumbling and emitting grit, slipping into fuzzy drift and then slipping back into a solid endless throb. The power of the drone is divine, and when harnessed, like this, with volume, and texture, and timbre, the music is a physical presence. Headphones come to life and encase your head in an organic black cocoon of sound, speakers unfurl thick flows of sonic tar, laying supine, eyes closed, you're soon buried alive, beneath layers and layers of resonant rumbling sound. And it is divine. This is powerful, earth shifting, massive minimal music. Not sure if these sounds come from synths or guitars, electronics or sine wave generators, malfunctioning effects pedals or a microphone lowered into the center of the Earth (we're leaning toward the latter), the result is something so primal and organic, so primeval and timeless, the act of listening seems to alter the listener's molecular structure, transporting the listener to an alternate universe, made entirely of sound, where our bodies are transformed into sound waves, our souls escape their mortal shackles and reveal themselves to be pure, deep drones. So awesome.
"Bone Tone" MPEG Stream:
"A Drone Drug"
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE Drone Drug (Actual Noise) lp 15.98
NOW ON VINYL!! Limited to 500 silkscreened copies. With a coupon for free digital download of the album, with an extra track, one we're pretty sure was included on the prior cd version of this on Release The Bats, which we reviewed thusly: Holy drone!! This is not at all what we expected from these guys, but then, most Skull Defekts records tend to confuse or confound. Which is pretty much why we love them so. And who are we to turn up our noses art a sonic surprise, especially when that surprise is DRONES. Big thick buzzy snarling crumbling blown out low end buzzing writhing brain melting, ear drum crushing, rib cage rattling, speaker destroying drones. Skull Defekts are no stranger to the drone, and the fact that they called this record Drone Drug, should have been a clue, but the band, who in the past have been heavily rhythmic, have discarded pretty much everything except for the drone. No beats, no riffs, no recognizable instruments, nothing but deep dark drones. This is a seriously heavy record. Dense and brutal, four extended tracks, each an exercise in tension, long form extended tones, but within these, stretched out sounds, much like dronelord Phill Niblock, the various layers are surprisingly active, throbbing and pulsing, and twisting and slithering and buzzing and whirring and shimmering, the sounds rough and raw, bits crumbling and emitting grit, slipping into fuzzy drift and then slipping back into a solid endless throb. The power of the drone is divine, and when harnessed, like this, with volume, and texture, and timbre, the music is a physical presence. Headphones come to life and encase your head in an organic black cocoon of sound, speakers unfurl thick flows of sonic tar, laying supine, eyes closed, you're soon buried alive, beneath layers and layers of resonant rumbling sound. And it is divine. This is powerful, earth shifting, massive minimal music. Not sure if these sounds come from synths or guitars, electronics or sine wave generators, malfunctioning effects pedals or a microphone lowered into the center of the Earth (we're leaning toward the latter), the result is something so primal and organic, so primeval and timeless, the act of listening seems to alter the listener's molecular structure, transporting the listener to an alternate universe, made entirely of sound, where our bodies are transformed into sound waves, our souls escape their mortal shackles and reveal themselves to be pure, deep drones. So awesome.
"Bone Tone" MPEG Stream:
"A Drone Drug"
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE Magnetic Skulls & Intense Sound Stimulations (Conspiracy) lp 18.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Last copies of these, still at the super reduced price! Couldn't be more perfect timing. As the world at large catch on to the fractured musical beauty of the Skull Defekts, with their Skulll cd, reviewed last list, flying off the shelves, we discovered a little stash of these super limited and now long out of print lps. Only a handful though, so act fast or be prepared to be disappointed. Here's our review from when we originally reviewed it a while back: Our pals at Conspiracy Records, a label/distro based in Belgium, who in the past have brought us records by Boris, Jesu, Shora and more, are this year celebrating their 10 year anniversary. A decade of amazing music. From a bedroom based punk rock label, to one of Europe's most important and influential labels and distros, all we can say is HURRAY! And HUZZAH! It's always so exciting, when a bunch of folks get together to spread the word about great music, great WEIRD music, and survive, even thrive. Such is the case with Conspiracy. And as if that weren't already enough, just knowing that some great people were selling some amazing music, those sweeties at Conspiracy have decided to share the love with us. And you. To celebrate their 10th anniversary, they've decided to do a super limited subscription series, 12 records over 12 months, each limited to somewhere between 200-500 copies, ONLY available to series subscribers. EXCEPT, they've decided to let AQ have copies of each, we're the only store with copies of these subscriber only lps, and for a brief moment, we can offer them to you, our loyal AQ customers. Needless to say we are thrilled, as the series lineup reads like a who's who of AQ faves, as well as including a handful of lesser knowns. All pressed on super thick vinyl, and packaged in killer hand screened original art sleeves. We haven't heard much from Sweden's Skull Defekts, but what we have heard we like. A lot. In fact, if there was any justice in the world, these guys would be battling Wolf Eyes for the hipster noise rock crown for sure. It's not that these guys sound like Wolf Eyes, although they do a bit, it's more that they are exploring the same territory, but without the goofy in your face vibe of Wolf Eyes, instead choosing to open up their sound a bit more, make it lighter, more abstract, and in the process a whole lot more compelling. The A side is a side long drift through a wondrous world of noise and noises, atmosphere and ambience. A heady ambient buzz, disrupted by little whorls of distorted crumble, endlessly shimmering, the sound twisting and mutating, changing color and texture, sometimes sounding blissful and serene, but just as quickly becoming damaged and dangerous. An epic exploration of a multi-layered glacial drift, not so much 'noise' as noisy in parts, not so much brutal as intense and dark. Side B is split into three tracks, the first features a simple cavemen pound, around which swirl and streak stretched out sheets of grinding guitar noise and abstract sonic fields. A slowly shifting soundscapes of layer after layer of buzzing fuzzed out noises. And again, not 'noise' just dreamily noisy. The second track is the most Wolf Eyes sounding, although it's a much more blissed out spaced out version, not so aggressive, a roiling landscape of damaged electronics, abused guitars, and abstract percussion, all twisted into a slithering sonic beast. The final track is the most mellow, but even then, the sound is harrowing and ominous, the perfect blend of low end buzz and rumble, and coruscating upper register psych guitar shimmer. Very hypnotic and leaves us wanting to hear a LOT more from these guys.
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE Open The Gates Of Mimer (AA / Nosordo) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
"Excerpt 1" MPEG Stream:
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE Peer Amid (Thrill Jockey) cd 15.98
It's like the second coming of late great rhythmic post rockers Lungfish. This latest disc from Swedish hypno rockers Skull Defekts finds the group teaming up with modern musical shaman (and former Lungfish frontman) Daniel Higgs, for what is easily the groups most 'rock' record yet, which is no bad thing, and with the addition of Higgs, the band's sound is transformed into something that to these ears sounds remarkably like a modernized, supercharged Lungfish. Skull Defekts, like Lungfish before them, are obsessed with rhythm, and repetition, and their songs bear this out, often comprised of just one or two parts, repeated over and over, trance-like and mesmerizing, the band locking in tight, and getting all droned out and hypnotic and krautrocky, constantly shifting but minimally and subtly, so on the surface, it's total zoner psychedelic drone rock bliss, but closer listening reveals a constantly mutating underbelly innercore, and on Peer Amid, Higgs acquits himself nicely, taking an approach not that dissimilar to his Lungfish days, short shards of lyrics, more like mantras, repeated over and over, he's in full shamen mode, the band his high priests, the normal Skull Defekts fleshed WAY out, lush and layered, with tons of extra effects, electronics, percussion, the guitars super thick and distorted and heavy, the perfect bed for Higgs' inspired lyrical rants, the overall sound slipping from the noise rock/krautrock hybrid of the title track, to the almost Bleach era Nirvana sounding "No More Always", to the Eastern tinged midtempo dirgery of "Gospel Of The Skull", that is probably as perfect a realization of the Skull Defekts / Daniel Higgs hybrid as to be found here, the main riff sounding almost like something off Sun City Girls' Torch Of The Mystics, and Higgs' vocals all over the place, nearly operatic, super intense and over the top. The rest of the record offers still more inspired, next level, spiritual hypno noise rock, rhythmic mantra drone psychedelia, in the form of the creepy vocal driven drag of "The Silver Ring", with its brooding ambience chant-like vox and crashing distortion, and the tribal buzz drenched "In Majestic Drag" with its huge drums, crackling crumbling distortion, strange shimmering ambience, and still more crooned moaned vox, and "Fragrant Nimbus", with a main rhythmic groove that almost sounds like the Ex, Higgs, sing/speaking over the top, sparring with extra percussion, squalls of super intense psychedelic freekout, the vocals multi-tracked creating strange harmonies, and "What Knives, What Birds", another -almost- funky sounding jam, that wreathes the rhythms in distorted processed vocals, winding tangled distorted guitar melodies, and finally, "Join The True" with a killer bass heavy rhythm, circular and mesmerizing, Higgs, vocals an ominous spoken word, the vocals and instruments locked tight for a nearly unshifting 3 minutes, before exploding into a majestic bit of melodic crashing and soaring, again, reminding us a bit of Nirvana's Bleach, albeit filtered through both Lungfish AND Skull Defekts, the result a glorious slab of super rhythmic, catchy and melodic, heavy and trancelike hypnorock bliss!
"Peer Amid" MPEG Stream:
"No More Always" MPEG Stream:
"Gospel Of The Skull" MPEG Stream:
"What Knives What Birds"
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE Peer Amid (Thrill Jockey) lp 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It's like the second coming of late great rhythmic post rockers Lungfish. This latest disc from Swedish hypno rockers Skull Defekts finds the group teaming up with modern musical shaman (and former Lungfish frontman) Daniel Higgs, for what is easily the groups most 'rock' record yet, which is no bad thing, and with the addition of Higgs, the band's sound is transformed into something that to these ears sounds remarkably like a modernized, supercharged Lungfish. Skull Defekts, like Lungfish before them, are obsessed with rhythm, and repetition, and their songs bear this out, often comprised of just one or two parts, repeated over and over, trance-like and mesmerizing, the band locking in tight, and getting all droned out and hypnotic and krautrocky, constantly shifting but minimally and subtly, so on the surface, it's total zoner psychedelic drone rock bliss, but closer listening reveals a constantly mutating underbelly innercore, and on Peer Amid, Higgs acquits himself nicely, taking an approach not that dissimilar to his Lungfish days, short shards of lyrics, more like mantras, repeated over and over, he's in full shamen mode, the band his high priests, the normal Skull Defekts fleshed WAY out, lush and layered, with tons of extra effects, electronics, percussion, the guitars super thick and distorted and heavy, the perfect bed for Higgs' inspired lyrical rants, the overall sound slipping from the noise rock/krautrock hybrid of the title track, to the almost Bleach era Nirvana sounding "No More Always", to the Eastern tinged midtempo dirgery of "Gospel Of The Skull", that is probably as perfect a realization of the Skull Defekts / Daniel Higgs hybrid as to be found here, the main riff sounding almost like something off Sun City Girls' Torch Of The Mystics, and Higgs' vocals all over the place, nearly operatic, super intense and over the top. The rest of the record offers still more inspired, next level, spiritual hypno noise rock, rhythmic mantra drone psychedelia, in the form of the creepy vocal driven drag of "The Silver Ring", with its brooding ambience chant-like vox and crashing distortion, and the tribal buzz drenched "In Majestic Drag" with its huge drums, crackling crumbling distortion, strange shimmering ambience, and still more crooned moaned vox, and "Fragrant Nimbus", with a main rhythmic groove that almost sounds like the Ex, Higgs, sing/speaking over the top, sparring with extra percussion, squalls of super intense psychedelic freekout, the vocals multi-tracked creating strange harmonies, and "What Knives, What Birds", another -almost- funky sounding jam, that wreathes the rhythms in distorted processed vocals, winding tangled distorted guitar melodies, and finally, "Join The True" with a killer bass heavy rhythm, circular and mesmerizing, Higgs, vocals an ominous spoken word, the vocals and instruments locked tight for a nearly unshifting 3 minutes, before exploding into a majestic bit of melodic crashing and soaring, again, reminding us a bit of Nirvana's Bleach, albeit filtered through both Lungfish AND Skull Defekts, the result a glorious slab of super rhythmic, catchy and melodic, heavy and trancelike hypnorock bliss!
"Peer Amid" MPEG Stream:
"No More Always" MPEG Stream:
"Gospel Of The Skull" MPEG Stream:
"What Knives What Birds"
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE Polonium (Kning Disk) 3"cd-r 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Not only is this limited 3" cd-r release on one our our newest favoritest labels, Sweden's Kning Disk (who brought us both the Erik Enocksson Record Of The Week and Balroynigress reviewed on our last list) but it's also by one of our newest favoritest bands, The Skull Defekts (also Swedish). You know why we love Kning, and if you read our reviews of a handful of their previous releases, you also know what we think is so great about The Skull Defekts... they're abstract technicians of noisy mechanical rhythm n' glitch, masters of repetitive industrial improv thrum n' stutter. Like their Stateside colleagues (and Kning labelmates) Wolf Eyes, they've also been quite prolific (we have several other new Skull Dfx titles in stock and awaiting review, in fact!). Polonium (named for a rare, radioactive element, used in the Alexander Litvinenko poisoning) is a heavy, hypnotic electrical noise construct about 20 minutes long, recorded live on the radio (Resonance FM) in London, England, January 6th 2007. Although performed by a stripped down duo version of the band, normally a quartet, it's a good example of what we love about this outfit and would make a good introduction to their sound, though we're listing it now mainly 'cause we know fans are gonna want to get their hands on this before it's gone, as this release, in its second and possibly final edition, is LIMITED TO 100 NUMBERED COPIES. We only have a few...
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE Skkull (Release The Bats) cd 14.98
The Skull Defekts are another one of those bands that seem to have gone from some unknown entity with just a cd-r and a tape, to a serious band, with an avalanche of releases, in the blink of an eye. So much so that it's been tough for us to keep up. This is the first of maybe three cds that have come out in the last little while, but the first we're actually getting around to reviewing. In the review of the only other SD release we've listed and reviewed, a now out of print lp on Conspiracy Records, we said that "if there was any justice in the world, these guys would be battling Wolf Eyes for the hipster noise rock crown for sure," and this record, along with all the others we have yet to review, but will soon, only reaffirms that sentiment. But whereas Wolf Eyes are lo-fi and murky, using piles of junk and damaged electronics and instruments that look (and sound) like they were sitting in a garage rusting for 20 years, The Skull Defekts seem to approach their noise with a bit more technical savvy, to the point of sounding mostly electronic, which they may very well be, but it's a testament to these guys and their sound that it's pretty difficult to tell what exactly is going on and what manner of soundmaking devices could produce this glorious racket. But who cares really, when it sounds this amazing, and mysterious, fucked up and so beautifully damaged. The opening track here sounds like a Oval, but after being stored on decaying tape in William Basinski's attic for 20 years. A hypnotic looped soundscape of glitched electronics, haunting electronic melodies, crumbling distorted textures, alien beeps and bloops, all strung together into haunting melodies, and lurching barely perceptible rhythms, the song constantly crapping out, being swallowed up by distortion, as if it was being played back on a broken tape player, a skipping cd player and blown speakers simultaneously. A gorgeous chunk of decayed beauty. Of modern electronic corrosion. The second track is a slow growing drone, a warm electronic warble, a resonant thrum, drifting beneath shimmering metallic melodies, like Niblock covered by Wolf Eyes, a barely shifting series of sounds and layers, the various components becoming more and more distressed as the piece progresses, more distorted, less cohesive, but weirdly enough, more and more lovely. The last half of the record is split into two parts, the first is a cloud of chaotic high end, a little bit Sunroof!, a little bit Vibracathedral Orchestra, but anchored by looped electronics and a relentless klaxon pulsing in the background, giving the track a strange sort of momentum, not at all unlike Avarus or Anaksimandros on Kompakt. The second part, and final track on the record, is a long dirge-y drone, of thick corrosive electronics and warm whirring low end, always on the verge of erupting into full on sludge, but instead, grinding glacially through a landscape of dark rumble and thick rib cage rattling throb...
"Sex Fracture" MPEG Stream:
"Carved In Bones"
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE Skulls VM Von Hausswolf & The Sons Of God Descending The Silver River Of The DFX (Important) lp 21.00
Pretty much every review of Skull Defekts begins with some comment about how confounding these guys are, or what a big surprise the record is, so at this point, having these guys surprise us is exactly what we expect! Yet we're still surprised and confounded every time. This lp finds Skull Defekts both live and in the studio, with their lineup augmented by some surprising (yep!) additions. The A-side is live, and finds CM Von Hausswolff becoming an honorary Defekt, along with someone called Jean-Louis Huhta, augmenting the core duo of Joachim Nordwall and Henrik Rylander, and we were expecting something, well, noisy, but instead, this is a gorgeous, ultra minimal side long dronescape, hushed layered drift, muted high end sine wave shimmer, the sound growing gradually more dense, thickening, sprawling, the high end more incendiary, the low end more crunchy and distorted, finally building to a bit of a noisy climax, before slipping right back into more minimal dronedriftskree. Quite cool. The B-side finds the Defekts welcoming Leif Elggren to the group, along with Kent Tankred, this quartet created their sidelong 'jam' live in the studio, and again, it begins as a hushed, barely there field recording, static and hiss, a bit of clatter and scrape, weird distorted buzz, streaks of feedback, tiny buried melodies, sonic fragments drifting in the ether, sonic motes settling on some greyed expanse of blurred mystery, the B-side is definitely headphone listening, the sounds of daily life will for sure overpower the sounds coming out of the speakers, but with headphones, one can enjoy the deep sonic mysteries of this epic chunk of minimal ambient dronemusic.
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE The Black Hand (Riot Season) lp 14.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. **SALE **SALE* *SALE** The Skull Defekts are another one of those bands that seem to have gone from barely existing, with only a cd-r or an lp or two floating around, to a seriously productive group spitting out a release or two every few months. And with SD, unlike a lot of bands, we CAN NOT get enough. Easy to understand why. Their records all sound so completely different, some are glitchy freak outs, others are droney and contemplative, some are heavy and dark, others shimmer and drift, but all of them somehow manage to sound fairly distinctive and unique, with some invisible Skull Defektive thread running through them. This particular slab of Defektive sound is all synths, thick and pulsing, layers upon layers of grinding throbbing buzzing synthesizer, laced with distant streaks of slightly higher pitched synths, adding a bit of subtle color, a gorgeous glacial Niblock drone synth symphony, the tones beating against each other, subtly altering the tempo and rhythm and timbre, a whole side of dark minimal buzzy crawl, sounds amazing on both 33 or 45. The flip side begins with more synths, almost like a continuation of the first side, but with a strange industrial jackhammer beat, that eventually dissipates leaving the synths to squirm and slither.. The second track on side 2, is like a higher end mix of side 1, with the various layers beginning to crumble and distort, and glitch out a bit, almost like the Skull Defekts as recorded by William Basinski, all very buzzy and intense, sounding a bit like the gateway to the other dimension in the movie Phantasm gone haywire... So cool. Packaged in a gorgeous black on black wood cut style sleeve.
SKULL DEFEKTS, THE The Sound Of Defekt Skulls And Intense Cranium Contact (Feedbacking Gothenburg And Chicago) (Utech) cd 14.98
Here's a Skull Defekts artifact that we've had hanging around for quite a while, meant to list it long ago but somehow it got lost in the shuffle! But since we luv this Swedish noisemaking duo (just raved about their latest, Drone Drug, on list #298) it would be a shame not to finally review this one too. Released on Utech, in one of their stylish slim die cut sleeves, this cd finds the Defekts doing their thing, using a "custom Drone Machine" and multiple mixing desks, also maybe a field recording of a flapping crow? We're not sure, that's what we read. The Skull Defekts are a cryptic crew indeed. Anyway we could believe it, and this sounds like what we like: one long 43 minute track here of whooshing, whirring, droning, crunching, crackling, glitching, abstract electronic bliss n' brutality with plenty of piercing peaks and lulling lows. Doubtless dangerous at high volumes, but hummingly hypnotic too (not in the "you can hum along" pop sense, but 'cause it sounds like a soothing huuummmmmmm!). No drums here, so it's not as rock or rhythmic as records like Blood Spirits and Drums are Singing. Lovely, noisy stuff, looping and grainy, for fans of Pan Sonic, Stilluppsteypa, Vulture Club, Sunroof!, Space Machine, just to name a few you probably have already sitting nearby to the Skull Defekts cds you already possess. Fun fact: 1/2 of Skull Defekts was once the drummer for '80s Stooges-style Swedish psych/punk rockers Union Carbide Productions. Did not know that until recently.
"The Sound Of Defekt Skulls... (excerpt)"
SKULL KONTROL Deviate Beyond All Means Of Capture (Touch & Go) cd 8.98
The long awaited debut from ex members of Circus Lupus and the Delta 72. Trashy sorta lo-fi punk rock with the unmistakable Circus Lupus yelp of Chris Thomson.
SKULL KONTROL zzzzzz... (Touch & Go) 12" 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Three (sometimes four) chord punk slop with screeching girl / boy vocals from members of Circus Lupus and Delta 72. The cover has a man with a hot dog for a head. Six songs.
SKULL KONTROL zzzzzz... (Touch & Go) cdep 9.98
Three (sometimes four) chord punk slop with screeching girl / boy vocals from members of Circus Lupus and Delta 72. The cover has a man with a hot dog for a head. Six songs.
SKULL SNAPS s/t (Aztec Music) cd 24.00
Who are the Skull Snaps, you say? Well, if you have been paying attention to hip-hop of the last eighteen years, you will instantly recognize the opening drum break of "It's A New Day" sampled by The Pharcyde, Gang Starr, Lords of The Underground as well as dozens of others who have sampled that riff and tons of others from this obscure New York soul group. Recorded in 1973, The Skull Snaps, a trio of guitar, bass and drums with killer vocal harmonies, had a more popular following overseas in the Northern Soul scene for such tracks, as "I'm Your Pimp" and "My Hang-up Is You" than they did in the US. Chock full of hooks and breaks, The Skull Snaps lone album is an amazing lost soul document that is finally getting its due. Plus it gets points for being one of the best album covers ever! Hip-hop legacy aside, this is a soul record right up there with Baby Huey, Curtis Mayfield and The Chi-Lites. Features 2 bonus tracks not on the original album. So Cool!
"It's A New Day" MPEG Stream:
"I'm Your Pimp"
SKULL SNAPS s/t (GSF) lp 26.00
Now available on double vinyl, remastered, and with a full color poster and die-cut 13 sticker sheet. Who are the Skull Snaps, you say? Well, if you have been paying attention to hip-hop of the last eighteen years, you will instantly recognize the opening drum break of "It's A New Day" sampled by The Pharcyde, Gang Starr, Lords of The Underground as well as dozens of others who have sampled that riff and tons of others from this obscure New York soul group. Recorded in 1973, The Skull Snaps, a trio of guitar, bass and drums with killer vocal harmonies, had a more popular following overseas in the Northern Soul scene for such tracks, as "I'm Your Pimp" and "My Hang-up Is You" than they did in the US. Chock full of hooks and breaks, The Skull Snaps lone album is an amazing lost soul document that is finally getting its due. Plus it gets points for being one of the best album covers ever! Hip-hop legacy aside, this is a soul record right up there with Baby Huey, Curtis Mayfield and The Chi-Lites.
"It's A New Day" MPEG Stream:
"I'm Your Pimp"
SKULLFLOWER Abyssic Lowland Hiss (Heavy Blossom) cd-r 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Spent ages trying to track these down and finally managed to get some from the man himself. The latest from the current incarnation of the mighty Skullflower. Released on Marcia Bassett's Heavy Blossom label (Bassett is Bower's partner in Hototogisu), Abyssic Lowland Hiss finds Skullflower mainman Matthew Bower joined by Lee Stokoe from Culver for a seriously pulverizing double axe attack. Recorded live in Holland, this is just about the noisiest SF we've heard in ages. None of that space rock or krautrock or drone-y high end bliss Bower has been known to dabble in, this is full on white hot guitar meltdown brutality. One guitar is a grinding hiss drenched low end rumble, while the other guitar squeals and peals and roars and shrieks and often melts down into a throbbing thrum, joining the other guitar for some speaker shredding blasts of blown out buzz and druggy psychedelic chaos. No dynamics, no riffs even, just two guitars spewing thick jets of ultra distorted, FX drenched fury. As with all things Bower, there is a melodic component, a sort of shimmer that permeates even his noisiest sounds, although here, that shimmer is nearly swallowed whole by the ravenous black beast that is Abyssic Lowland Hiss.
"Abyssic Lowland Hiss I" MPEG Stream:
"Abyssic Lowland Hiss II"
SKULLFLOWER Argon (Freek) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. With the demise of Freek records, this may be the last we see of this amazing Skullflower record, with the outfit fully entrenched in the lithium haze of squalid feedback drone. Skullflower's Matthew Bower described the album as "the SF release that best prefigures the rich,rewarding sweep of Sunroof!. four long pieces, the last studio bound w/ Tim Hodgkinson really floats, undisciplined but strident, uplifting drone, shot through and augmented with wind and voices."
SKULLFLOWER Carved Into Roses / Infinityland / Singles (VHF) 3cd 21.00
We had long been dreaming about a singles compilation from long running UK noise rock / psych dirge combo Skullflower, who are not a 'singles' band by any stretch, but somehow, peppered throughout their lengthy career, and a clutch of classic albums proper, lurk some of the most iconic singles ever, FOUR of which are gathered here, on cd for the first time ever. And the fact that those singles are essentially just the bonus tracks here, should give you an idea of exactly why this was a shoe in for Record Of The Week. Two of our favorite, classic Skullflower jams, long out of print, now available again together along with the aforementioned singles: Carved Into Roses, originally released in 1994 on VHF, and Infinityland, released a year later on HeadDirt, with the classic SF lineup of Stuart Dennison and Russell Smith (of beloved nineties psychedelic scuzzdub heavies Terminal Cheesecake), two guitars and drums, no bass, both records featuring Simon Wickham Smith and Philip Best of Ramleh as guests. At first we were wondering why exactly these two records were being re-released together, similar lineup of course, and listening to them again, they are sonically very similar, marking the band's shift toward a somewhat different sound, shedding some of the pummel and thud of their earlier releases for something a bit more abstract and tripped out, still heavy and noisy of course, but edging a bit closer to the murky muddy psychedelic drift and gauzy blurred noise-psych drift of their sonic brethren in the Dead C, the sound here in many ways sounding very much like classic NZ noise rock of the era, the tracks lengthy headtrip blissouts, everything wreathed in feedback, the drums and vox buried in the mix, while the guitars writhe and swirl, droned out and raga like one second, fierce caustic squalls the next. SO already it makes sense to bundle these two records together, even more so though once we discovered that they were originally conceived of as one epic sprawling double disc set. The opener of "Carved Into Roses" pretty much sets the scene, channeling vintage Dead C, and thus finding Skullflower at their very poppiest, reminding us a bit of Dead C offshoot Gate, a sort of meandering Velvets-y drift, lazy and laid back and lugubrious, the sound druggy and droney, a pop song swaddled in thick sheets of wild guitar and smeared psychedelic freakout, almost like some sort of super abstract and seriously drifty space rock, definite foreshadowing some of the sounds of today (White Hills, AMT, etc), the dirgey lope like one of those modern psych bands slooooowed waaaaay down, all swirling washed out guitar skree, ethereal buried-in-the-mix vox, it's downright meditative in its own heavy softly noisy way. The whole record isn't so blissed out and hazy, "The Rose Wallpaper" explodes into a tangle of free jazz freakout, the drums wild and octopoidal, what sounds like some sort of Middle Eastern horn bleats and skronks, the sound growing ever more noisy and chaotic, a seriously heady chunk of OUT-noise jazz if there ever was, which leads right into "Shiny Birds Of Doom", another dark dirge, this one laced with what sounds like organ, or maybe more horns, the lumbering industrial sounding drumming, pounding away through thick swirls of hum and buzz, some howled vocals drift in and out, surprisingly catchy melodies appearing now and again, but more often then not dissipating into the creeping abstract gloom, fans of Gnaw Their Tongues and similarly cinematic black doom will definitely dig. "Silver Glove Puppet" is a hissy high end stretch of noise pop rendered in shades of grinding crunch, and fractured chaos, sounding a bit like a WAY noisier unhinged Swans, the song getting noisier and noisier, those tangled guitars unwinding thick barbed streaks of effects drenched buzz, but simultaneously becoming more and more song-like as impossible as that seems. Then there's "Metallurgical King", which brings back the horns, and lays them over a cool looped guitar, and some almost krautrock like drumming, super hypnotic, and cyclical, it's only 12 minutes, but you can totally picture this stretching out to fill up a whole live set, totally mesmerizing noisejazz krautdrone hypnorock bliss. And finally Carved Into Roses finishes the way it started, with a stretch of murky out-pop moodiness, the strangely titled "Ge4050" unfurls thick slabs of coruscating guitar buzz, warm washed out melody, never quite coalescing into a proper pop song, instead, seeming to blossom into some sort of psychedelic supernova, all blown out guitars and glimmering sonic blur. Another track that's way to short at seven minutes... Which leads directly into Infinityland, which starts off with the epic nearly 13 minute long "The Idiotsburgh Address", which opens with a long stretch of layered guitar, blurred and buzzy, droned out and raga like, it's not until about 90 seconds in when the drums kick in, and those guitars coalesce into something again, almost poppy, dirgey, buzz drenched doom-pop creep, woozy and washed out, the guitars soaring and fierce, wrapped around a lilting minor key melody, some wailed wordless vocals, the drums occasionally explode into bursts of delirious drum damage, and of course the guitars are constantly splintering into wild blinding squalls of crunch and howl, but for long stretches, much of that heaviness peels back, again revealing a sort of dirgey industrial almost krautrock sounding meander, haunting and meditative, but still plenty heavy and noisy, and again, hard not to compare this to vintage Dead C. Which leads directly into "White Fang", which is one of the classic Skullflower jams, short by comparison, but the only track that really recalls the Skullflower of old, a pounding almost industrial rhythm, some chugging churning riffage, wild squiggly psychedelic leads, basically the freakout heart-of-the-sun space rock final finishing jam transformed into a whole song, one sounds like staring into the sun, blown out and gloriously blissfully heavy. "Pixie Dust" is another favorite, darkly haunting, and creepy heavy, the opening riff seriously haunting and ominous, the sound immediately locking into a serious sprawl of noise drenched space-psych mesmer, the sort of thing that would have modern day psych rockers bowing down in reverence, as would follow up "Abraxas", which sounds a bit like Wooden Shjips with a heavy noise makeover, a tranced out groove pounding away within a constantly shifting cloud of psychedelic swirl. "False Magic Kingdom" offers up stretch of serious trip out, the 'free'-est track here for sure, a sort of psychedelic ambience, lots of random rhythmic skitter, pulsing looped buzz, streaks off feedback, clouds of cymbal shimmer, a total outrock freeform epic, before finally finishing off with the comparatively brief closer, "Blood Orange", a gorgeously noisy coda, which melds melancholic clean guitar melody to chaotic rhythms and blown out guitar buzz, yet another track which would have benefited from another 10 or 15 minutes... And if that wasn't enough, there's a whole 'nother 50 minutes of glorious Skullflower skree, the aforementioned 7"s tracks, "Choady Foster" / "Spent Force" originally released in 1994 on Helter Skelter, "White Fang #2" / "Glassy Essence", also originally released in 1994, on Freek, the Village Sorting 7" originally released in 1995 on Self Abuse (featuring Tim Hodgkinson of Henry Cow), and finally The Art Of Skullflower, originally released in 1996 on Way Out Sounds, which features Bower solo as Total on the B side. Definitely some of our favorite SF jams, and we're so psyched to have them on cd finally. "White Fang #2" is a wild unhinged, super lo-fi, in-the-red, psychedelic dirge rock blow out, that is the most 'rock' SF has ever sounded, while "Glassy Essence" is a thick undulating sprawl of corrosive blackened drones, drifting on a muted chaos of drum stumble and cymbal sizzle. "Choady Foster" sounds like it could have come from the same sessions the produced Carved Into Roses", a murky, psychedelic space rock, motorik groove and thick gouts of frenzied guitars, over a totally mesmerizing stripped down hypnorock framework. "Spent Force" strips away the rhythm, and most of the low end leaving a strange stretch of minimal buzz and glitch and hiss, underpinned by minimal muted drumming and loads of tape hiss, not to mention the occasional super dramatic and cinematic sonic swell. The live version of "Metallurgical King" from the Art Of 7", finds SF in full on abstract trip out drift mode, the drums less a driving force and more another texture floating amidst billowing clouds of feed back and effects drenched sonic swirl. The Total track from the flipside, is similarly drifty, but somehow much darker and heavier, with more heft, and a more serious low end, but still all tangled up in feedback and crumbling distortion, although the main guitar unfurls a thick, SUNNO))) like thrum. And finally, the epic Village Sorting 7", which finds the track "Village Sorting" split into two halves and spread out over all 14 minutes available on that original slab of wax, a plodding drum beat, a fog of insectoid buzz and jagged shards of atonal melody, all blurred and smeared into what sounds like some sort of lo-fi slowcore dirge melting before your very ears, the song laced with some serious free jazz style skronk, the second half / flipside eventually sheds the drums and lets the grinding guitars and bleating horns freakout over a shimmering bed of rumble and buzz. SO GREAT! Here's hoping the rest of the SF singles find their way onto cd, but for now, we've been spinning this disc nonstop, at least when we weren't spinning the other two. Definite contender for reissue of the year, and absolutely essential for fans of all things heavy and psychedelic, abstract and spaced out, noisy and rhythmic. The packaging is pretty gorgeous too, a super deluxe 6 panel digisleeve, all full color textured paper, with something we had never seen before, the abstract oil painting from the cover printed on the jacket and then the paper sleeves affixed over the top, so parts of the painting our visible around the edges, it's really striking, and inside the various records and 7"s are reproduced in miniature, with extensive track notes, all that and a Japanese style obi too!
"Pipe Dream" MPEG Stream:
"Metallurgical King" MPEG Stream:
"White Fang" MPEG Stream:
"False Magic Kingdom"
SKULLFLOWER Circulus Vitiosus Deus / Circle Of Serpents / Valley Of Scorpions (Turgid Animal) 3cd box 53.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Managed to get SIX copies of this back in stock, direct from the band, and this is it. Anyone who missed out first time around, one more chance to grab one of these, one of our favorite new SF records for sure! Massive dose of divine Skullflower noisiness this time around, a long in the works, super limited, hand assembled TRIPLE cd (not cd-r) boxset featuring all new material, over three hours or buzzing noise, abstract riffing, and all manner of brilliant sonic fuckery. Not sure which disc comes first, but we'll start with Circle Of Serpents, and right off the bat, we're greeted with a glorious looped riff, reminiscent of Exquisite Fucking Boredom or Orange Canyon Mind, locked and looped and played over and over and over, while in the background all manner of melodies and melodic fragments, swoop and swoon and howl and keen, a swirling abyss over which a fuzzy minimal metal loop is locked on repeat. But don't expect the whole disc to be riff based, the second track explodes in a wall of grinding crumbling blown out noise drenched chaos, and as if we weren't already mixing it up enough, track three offers up some full on ultra grim blasting murky black metal, Skullflower style! We knew Bower dug the black metal, and always hoped something would come of it, so here you go, raw and buzzy, a stuttering drum machine blast beat, riffs blurred and smeared into abstract streaks, vokills buried in the mix, all barreling though clouds of effects and crumbling noise. The rest of the disc slips from epic, sun dappled Sunroof! like effulgence, tortured Abruptum style black ambience, thick distorted classic Skullflower wall of rrrrooooaaaar, strange fractured bagpipe industrial rhythm noise jams, thick warm blissy shoegazey guitar drones, and more. Easily the most varied, the weirdest, the most listenable, and quite possibly the best Skullflower record we've heard in years, and that's just the first disc. And thankfully, the other two discs hold up just as well, super varied, and noisy and heavy, rife with drones and riffs and ragas and blasts of black metal, strange rhythms, mysterious percussion, doomy dirges, layers of guitars everywhere, dense and thick and corrosive and abrasive and warm and pretty and fucked up and furious and dreamy, all over the map, somehow all held together by some nearly impossible to decipher masterplan, but why try to understand, it's not necessary to enjoy this, in fact it's better to just luxuriate in the massive soul swallowing sound, and simple give in as you drift further and further, deeper and deeper. Matthew Bower who is Skullflower describes it like this: "Leitmotivs and keys get twisted and mangled and return with the dread anticipation of Nietzsche's eternal recurrence in a cycle of upheavals and lacerations, beginning and ending interwoven in an occult pantheistic tapestry that posits a gateway from the rational universe of gods creation into universe b, for spirits that can tune to the bleak, gorgeous vision SF has been channeling since tribulation. Comes in a cardboard box with silver foil blocked slipcases featuring sigils/glyphs/runes that are both symbols and aspects of the working, and 15 visual fragments that can be arranged in conjunction with the sounds to make spells, koans, traps, resonances to help bring about the sacred alignments that the music aims toward.... indeed a valuable tool for dark meditation, and lefthand tantra". That's right, 3 cds in silver embossed sleeves, in a hand painted cardboard box, each hand painted by Bower himself, also included a bunch of color inserts, as well as liner notes, the whole thing LIMITED TO 300 COPIES!!!
"Vexed Abyss" MPEG Stream:
"Lungs Of Hell" MPEG Stream:
SKULLFLOWER Desire For A Holy War (Utech) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. First in a new series from the Utech label, a curated collection of releases, each featuring original artwork from artist Stephen Kasner (whose book we still have a few copies off, see elsewhere on the site), a hand picked roster that seriously SCREAMS aQ: Aluk Todolo, Final, Skullfower and more! First up is Skullfower, a brand new disc, which finds Matthew Bower embracing mayhem and chaos. He may have flirted with riffage and space rock for a brief spell, but he is back to creating huge caustic guitarscapes, with Skullfower seemingly a much harsher, noisier, more aggressive take on his Sunroof! project. Where Sunroof! traffics in blissed out ragas and soaring high end ur-drone, Skullfower is creating dense worlds of sound. Psychedelic, textured, layered, but blown out and ultra distorted, it's almost like a guitar orchestra, Bower conducting a symphony of Keiji Haino's, but he's doing this all himself (for the most part). A cursory listen reveals an ear shredding blast of whitenoise sound, but the opening track is about as melodic as music like this gets, not in the traditional sense, but there seems to be some sort of sonic narrative, the various chunks of riff, the keening high end squiggles, the washed out chordal whir, it all blends into one massive, organic, strangely musical chunk of soft noise. However, the second track will take a bit more digging to discover its inner warmth, for it is indeed white hot, a wall of grinding hissing speaker punishing white noise, the next few tracks follow suit, never straying far from the upper registers, sometimes pulsing and stuttering, but remaining on the difficult side of easy listening. But even in these harsh sonic environs, Bower manages to create melody and texture within what is essentially a noise context, this is far from Merzbow (well, okay, not FAR). By track five, the low end has caught up the the high, and while the proceedings are still noisy, the skree is offset by the whir, there seems to be a sort of industrial percussion buried WAY down in the mix, melodies fracture and fly apart, only to drift back together in new shapes, some stretches are downright beautiful, tangled melodies, disembodied riffing, a convergence that turns chaos into structure, a song surfaces where there was once noise, before slipping back into unhinged drift. The final track is a blast of psychedelic noise guitar blow out, a sonic battle, riffs clash and break into jagged shards, lightning bolts of feedback are hurled then deflected by a churning rumble of amp buzz, speakers are cannons, the sky black with buzz, the ground wet with whir, a gorgeous sky splitting, earth shaking cacophony.
"Your Cities, Your Tombs" MPEG Stream:
"Moses Conjured A Blood Niagra"
SKULLFLOWER Exquisite Fucking Boredom (tUMULt) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We've been digging the recent Skullflower release Orange Canyon Mind like crazy (last week's record of the week in fact) so we figured it would be a good time to revisit Exquisite Fucking Boredom, Skullfower's 2003 release, and at the time, their first in SEVEN YEARS! A triumphant return for this mighty UK heavy/drone/psych outfit. And with 2005's OCM, it seems Skullflower is back to stay! With Exquisite Fucking Boredom, Matthew Bower (Sunroof!, Total ) resurrected his slumbering free-noise behemoth, offering up this gorgeous blast of hypnotic, pummeling, droning crush, equal parts shimmering skree, damaged motorik rhythms, murky and druggy psych-rock riffs and swirling fuzzed-out guitars. The album's core is the epic, expansive and never ending, four part suite "Celestial Highway", a sludgy sabbathy seventies rock riff, repeated adinfinitum, a dangerously unstable entropic jam wherein the riff slowly drifts apart, sinking into a churning tarpit of abstract whir and hum, gradually mutating into a drifting, throbbing pulse, as warbly synths, chirping birds, and thick washes of dreamy sonic turbulence overtake and subdue any traces of the original riff. Mesmeric and hypnotic and totally otherworldly. Like UK mantric rockers Loop, on repeat play, while your boombox runs out of batteries, or a sweeter, prettier version of Dutch minimal metal gods Gore, or imagine Steve Reich or Terry Riley composing for Black Sabbath. The remaining tracks retain their Krautrockish propulsion but drift closer to Sunroof! territory, loosening the psychedelic electronic riffscapes from their moorings, letting them float lazily through a gauzy soundscape of buzzing melodies, luminous shards of shimmering feedback and rumbling waves of drowsy, druggy drone. Like Neu! or Kraftwerk, doped up and drifting off, run through a bank of cheap effects, and broadcast out of an underwater leslie speaker, the lo-fi rhythms suffocating under a thick blanket of gossamer guitars and sonic detritus. Hypnotic and savage, dreamy and otherworldly, quixotic and godlike! Featuring sonic contributions from Vibracathedral Orchestra's Neil Campbell and produced by Colin Potter (Nurse With Wound, Ora. Monos, etc.).
"Celestial Highway I" MPEG Stream:
"Celestial Highway II" MPEG Stream:
"Celestial Highway III" MPEG Stream:
SKULLFLOWER Fucked On A Pile Of Corpses (Cold Spring Records) cd 17.98
The legendary long running Matthew Bower led noise rock outfit continues its trajectory into a world of black noise and raw black metal primitivism. Having made a multitude of stops along the way, proto industrial pound, rhythmic psychedelic riffery, meandering free noise, blacknoise raga, blistering spaced out trance, and plenty more in between, not to mention the various sonic offshoots (Total, Sunroof!, GHQ, Voltigeurs, etc.), it seems that Skullflower, and its Captain, have set course of the heart of some black star, with a crew now numbering four, this outfit conjures up gouts of primal black energy, that out of context could rival classic Japanoise for sheer crushing onslaught, and the early days of black metal, for pure sonic nihilism. Which is definitely a combination Bower and Co. seem to be well aware of, seemingly attempting to fuse a murky sort of black metal buzz, to speaker shredding power electronics, while somehow managing a bit of melody and momentum. Opener "Hanged Man's Seed" seems to manage the impossible by wedding some lo-fi wheezy NZ style bedroom Casio drone, to a pulsing muted rhythm, and explosive shards of blackened skree, the result though is surprisingly lovely, in a sort of brutal punishing noisy way. It almost sounds like Merzbow jamming with Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos. "Viper's Fang" takes a similar tack, but this time taking proper psychedelic riffage, and submerging it in a roiling cauldron of black sonic pitch and coruscating crush, and there are definitely drums happening here too, buried in the murk, but again, surprisingly melodic, and again looking to NZ for a comparison, the Dead C come to mind, simultaneously at their very poppiest, and very noisiest. But "Defiling Their Temples With Bestial Lust" takes care of that melody stuff, or does it. Sure on the surface it sounds like a blast of blacknoise, but underneath, there's a definitely woozy minor key melody, a drifting pop element all but obscured by the streaks and shards of corrosive crumbling noise above. To be fair, there is a stretch, the next three songs in fact, where the noise wins, pretty sure there's still stuff going on in there, riffs and melodies, drumming, vocals, whether it's droney pop or buzzing black metal, but it's nearly impossible to tell. The buried sounds definitely inform the noise, but again, the noise wins, but even noise is not infallible, letting brief bits of hidden sound to escape their black tarpit prison. And then there's the closer, which brings the sound full circle, offering up a sort of melancholic blackness, a primitive pound, wrapped in super dense tangles of guitarnoise and grinding sonic chaos, but here, like on much of the record, the two seemingly disparate elements seem to bleed into each other, creating a whole that is WAY more than its constituent parts, a buzzy, melodic, noise drenched blackness that sounds like what we imagine these guys were aiming for all along. There has been much talk about this being SF's harshest record ever, we have politely disagree (that honor most definitely belongs to Strange Keys To Untune God's Firmament). Sure it's brutal and black, punishing and pummeling, but it's also weirdly poppy, darkly melancholy, and to our ears a pretty perfect mix of blacknoise, black buzz, and mysterious melody. Definitely our favorite Skullflower record in a while...
"Hanged Man's Seed" MPEG Stream:
"Viper's Fang" MPEG Stream:
SKULLFLOWER Funeral Rites (Stiff Opposition) 3"cd-r 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. One of two new ULTRA limited releases from Mr. Matthew Bower (Skullflower, Total, Sunroof! etc.), this one from his long running Skullflower project, which has gone through many permutations over the years, from pummeling thud rock, to full on face melting noise, to tripped out tranced out psychedelia. In recent years, Bower has become increasingly interested in black metal, and SF records have definitely offered up glimpses of this black buzz obsession, maybe none more so than this two track ep, which starts out with "Black Helicopters", an intro of sorts, a stuttering loopscape of static pulsations and swirls of hiss and whir, super mesmerizing, heavily textured and atmospheric, with a subtly pulsing rhythmic component. Gradually, the sounds begin to glitch out, the sound blurring into a hazy sprawl of heady thrum, before slipping into the second track, the 10+ minute "Sky Burial", which finds Bower unfurling some thick swaths of blackened riffage, smeared into the buzzing washed out background, the effect not so much 'black metal', as a sort of super thick, darkly psychedelic blackened drone, sounding like Tim Hecker armed with nothing but a handful of black metal riffs and an arsenal of pedals. Super tripped out and dizzyingly hypnotic, the frantic frenzied riffing is almost more implied, as the edges blur and everything oozes into one epic undulating mass of blackdrone blurbuzz. The sound does gradually build, but never explodes fully, instead just seeming to grow more and more dense, while within this black squall, lurk all manner of haunting minimal barely-there melodies, and buried not-quite rhythms. EXTREMELY LIMITED! As in 25 or 30 total made EVER, we have about just 7 remaining out of the batch we started with, and unless we can convince Bower to whip up more, these are the last copies we'll ever see. So act fast, list alternates, you know the drill. Housed in cool handpainted minisleeves with pasted on liner notes.
SKULLFLOWER IIIrd Gatekeeper (HeadDirt) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Before Skullflower became a blissed out free drone, psychedelic raga outfit which would eventually morph into the ultra dreamy Sunroof!, they were trolling much darker, much harsher waters. When IIIrd Gatekeeper first came out way back in 1992, it fell right in alongside its sonic brethren, Swans, Godflesh, Pitchshifter, Terminal Cheesecake, Ramleh and all of those industrial dirge rockers. Originally released on Justin Broadrick's hEADdIRT label, IIIrd Gatekeeper is definitely one of Skullflower's finest moments (and quite possibly both Andee and Allan's favorite SF record EVER), a slow murky trudge through a blinding squall of psychedelic guitar freakout, dense swirls of which lurk behind a lurching slow motion bass dirge and pounding near industrial drumming. Each track picks a riff and pounds it into the ground, repeating and repeating until you can't help but be drawn in, while white hot streaks of guitar skree and low end rumble spin around the relentless plodding. SO much heavier and scarier than almost any other record. A bit like a heavy metal Whitehouse, or a more psychedelic Swans. A muddy, filthy, drug drenched metal club to the side of the head. So fucking awesome. THIS WAS A WAREHOUSE FIND. THIS RECORD IS SOOOO OUT OF PRINT, BUT ONE OF OUR DISTRIBUTORS FOUND A BOX SO WE TOOK AS MANY AS THEY HAD. ONCE THESE ARE GONE IT'S BACK TO eBAY WITH YOU...
"Can You Feel It?" MPEG Stream:
"Saturnalia" MPEG Stream:
SKULLFLOWER IIIrd Gatekeeper (Crucial Blast) cd 14.98
We lucked into a chunk of these a while back (the out of print original pressing that is), an all time industrial metal noise classic, quite possibly the best Skullflower record there is, some folks think. And we're inclined to agree. Although with a body of work like Bower and Co.'s, that's a pretty tough call. Well, those disappeared in a heartbeat, but lucky for ALL of us, even those of us who have bought this amazing disc multiple times, it's now been reissued, remastered, with all new artwork, liner notes, ready to finally be adored and revered by all lovers of heavy music, many who may not have been hip to the massive fucking might and heart stopping brutality of Skullflower when they first unleashed this disc way back in 1992. So dig in, and let this glorious avalanche of beautiful heaviness bury you beneath its utter intensity and frightful majesty. Before Skullflower became a blissed out free drone, psychedelic raga outfit which would eventually morph into the ultra dreamy Sunroof!, they were trolling much darker, much harsher waters. When IIIrd Gatekeeper first came out way back in the beginning of the nineties, it fell right in alongside its sonic brethren, Swans, Godflesh, Pitchshifter, Terminal Cheesecake, Ramleh and all of those industrial dirge rockers. Originally released on Justin Broadrick's hEADdIRT label, IIIrd Gatekeeper as we mentioned above, is definitely one of Skullflower's finest moments (and quite possibly both Andee and Allan's favorite SF record EVER), a slow murky trudge through a blinding squall of psychedelic guitar freakout, dense swirls of which lurk behind a lurching slow motion bass dirge and pounding near industrial drumming. Each track picks a riff and pounds it into the ground, repeating and repeating until you can't help but be drawn in, while white hot streaks of guitar skree and low end rumble spin around the relentless plodding. SO much heavier and scarier than almost any other record EVER. A bit like a heavy metal Whitehouse, or a more psychedelic Swans. Or early Earth. A muddy, filthy, drug drenched metal club to the side of the head. So fucking awesome. Awesome new packaging. Black gatefold printed inside and out with metallic silver ink, printed inner sleeve, and extensive liner notes and band history, including excerpts from rare interviews, from Skullflower historian and bad ass noisemaker in his own right Roy Felps.
"Can You Feel It?" MPEG Stream:
"Black Rabbit" MPEG Stream:
"Saturnalia" MPEG Stream:
SKULLFLOWER La Noche De Walpurgis (self-released) cd-r 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Over the last 20 Years, Matthew Bower and his ever mutating noise rock combo have gone through more sonic shifts than it would seem possible, each alteration like an artist's 'period', but instead of a BLUE period or RED period, SF shifted from a crushing proto industrial pummel period, to a blown out black noise period, to a metallic drone period, to the more recent psychedelic hypno-riff period, and a momentary dip back into the black noise, but now he/they seem to have launched into a whole new period that effectively combines that more recent riff-based sound with that pure noise the group has dabbled in and revisited over the years. And incorporated into that sound, eagle-eared listeners may be able to hear the fruits of Bower's ever growing interest in black metal as well. With the recent 3 cd boxset and Not Not Fun lp, Skullflower have again reinvented themselves and produced a series of recordings that are at once incendiary and noise drenched, and at the same time, textural and psychedelic. More than ever, headphones are required, as background music, La Noche will simply spread out into a uniform sheet of grey noise, but slap on the phones and it's like lathering your head in LSD flavored honey and sticking your head in a den of slumbering sonic bears. Various blown out and distorted guitar lines squiggle and squirm, producing an ever expanding tangle of fractured psych rock sprawl, beautiful prismatic squalls, rife with fragmented melodies, inadvertent harmonies, woozy and tripped out and gorgeously noisy. Parts of La Noche almost sound like some alien guitarists shred tape, broadcast through millions of miles of space, picking up all manner of detritus before being captured on some deep-in-the-jungle SETI satellite, and it's now up to us to decrypt the message, salutations from a friendly word, warnings of our impending doom, or just some hundreds of years old kid going apeshit and capturing it on some deep space 4track. And Bower's guitars are drenched and doused in strange effects as well resulting in a sound that falls somewhere between malfunctioning bagpipes and the strange sonic wonder of another aQ favorite, Amps For Christ. In fact, this could be like a metallic noise version of AfC, if Amps For Christ weren't ALREADY a metallic noise version of AfC. Some of the tracks here do lock into some serious, albeit buried under layers of processed effects and crumbling distortion, grooves, in fact, "Vinum Sabbati" has a bad ass riff grinding away, within a swirling cloud of high end insectoid shimmer, a gorgeous psych rock chug, lurching and lumbering beneath the surface, and the record finishes off with some total black metal worship, "Serene & Terrible Noontide Abyss" is a brittle buzzy Darkthrone-y riff, looped into a mesmerizing mantra, while underneath stripped down and spare percussive pound adds an abstract rhythmic element. Like pretty much every SF track lately, we'd love to hear this one expanded into a whole record! Anyone who bought either the triple cd box on Turgid Animal or the Not Not Fun lp, or both, or heck NEITHER, is definitely going to want this. Heavy and blown out and hypnotic and metallic and brutal and pretty and buzzy and pretty much all we could hope for from Bower and company. And as always this is SUPER LIMITED. We did get a whole bunch of these, direct from Mr. Bower himself, but when we run out it may take us a while to get more, and at some point we most likely won't be able to get more, at all. And by now, you must know, that means get one NOW!
"Black Flame" MPEG Stream:
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"Serene & Terrible Noontide Abyss"
SKULLFLOWER Last Shot At Heaven (Noiseville) cd 29.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Managed to get a tiny handful more of this long out of print rarity from the label, LAST COPIES!!!! Everyone has their own particular favorite Skullflower era, the pummeling Swans-like crush of the early records, the blown out free drone guitar skree of Obsidian Shaking Codex, the tripped out druggy riffy space rock of Exquisite Fucking Boredom and Orange Canyon Mind, or the full on face melting guitarnoise assault of more recent releases, as far as we're concerned it ALL rules, whether heavy or noisy, pounding and pummeling or drifting and shimmering, Matthew Bower and whatever other noisemakers he manages to assemble, are responsible for some of the most amazing OUTrock records of the last twenty years, if not ever. One of the best is no doubt Last Shot At Heaven, released in 1993, which features the band as a trio, and looks ahead to the dirgey riffage of Exquisite Fucking Boredom, but mixes in plenty of druggy shimmer (lots of Sunroof! foreshadowing), post industrial pound and psychedelic guitar freakout. This is WAY out of print, but the label discovered a box of 40 or so stashed away, so we took all they had left (25 copies), needless to say, these are the last copies EVER, the label has no plans to repress, and we took every remaining copy, so if you want one, be quick! Last Shot explodes right off the bat with "Caligula" a dirgey riff heavy groove, all massive plodding pound, and squalls of wah guitar, howled vocals buried in the mix, streaks of feedback, tangled guitar melodies, very metallic and definitely heavy, but still plenty space-y and krauty. The follow up "Get The Horn" is all looped shimmer and pulsing thrum, peppered with growling distorted guitars, and spaced out drum pound, the growling guitars intensifying over the near static "Baba O'Reilly" like synth part. "Dufus" is an ultra distorted lo-fi garagedoom dirge, Dead C style free rock recorded at the bottom of a well, still thick with swirling guitars and simple plodding drums. "Bad Alchemy" is total proto metal, a killer main riff, wrapped in squiggly guitar freak out, the whole thing a woozy metallic groove, locked into an endless loop, the vocals a thick effected drawl off in the distance, "Elf Piercer" is a bit of Hawkwindy style space rock, again, locked into a relentless loop, effects everywhere, the guitars wild and tangled, "Rotten Sun II" is a super blown out doomic dirge, with howled vox and super jagged caustic riffage, and rhythms buried beneath the crumbling distortion, "Mystic Eye" is all tribal drumming, buzzing guitar, throbbing bass, soaring melodies, the most straight up rock of any of the tracks, but once it achieves maximum volume, it again gets looped into a seemingly endless jam, and finally "Blown Dukes", a hazy guitar drift, all warm whir and warble, thick buzz, disembodied riff, eventually joined by spare drumming, before devolving into a free rock freakout. One of the more accessible Skullflower records for sure, but fear not, still plenty heavy and noisy and psychedelic, and unfortunately, almost for sure, your last chance to get your hands on one.
"Caligula" MPEG Stream:
"Elf Piercer" MPEG Stream:
SKULLFLOWER Malediction (Second Layer) cd 15.98
Matthew Bower's growing obsession with black metal has gradually infiltrated the blown out guitar skree of his earlier recordings and continues to push the sound of modern Skullflower into realms blacker and more grim and gristly than ever. Much like the recently reviewed (but sadly now out of print) Vile Veil lp, word on the street was that Malediction was to be the "Skullflower black metal" record, which it could very well be, but you have to realize that no matter how much Darkthrone or Pyha or Old Wainds or Arckanum Bower listens too, those sounds get filtered through that mysterious mind, eventually coming out via his guitar as a sound not terribly removed from something recognizably Skullflower, but with enough blackness, enough buzzing riffage, enough cello (here transformed into howling moans and caustic shards of scrape and skree) and enough chaotic drum splatter, courtesy of original Skullflower drummer Stuart Dennison, to make this more than just another Skullflower record, and more than just another guitarnoise record, it transforms this wild cacophony into some transcendent blacknoise hybrid, equal parts ur-drone and black buzz, psychedelic freakout and free-noise experiment, a pulsing, throbbing swirl of abstract heaviness and in-the-red speaker damaging crunch, a sound that slips fluidly from total abstract atom scatter to lurching almost riffy mesmer, remaining always wreathed in a thick, corrosive field of upper register sonic static, only the drums, ever really leaping from the fray, to hurl some thunderous beats before being quickly sucked back under. Not sure if it was that brief foray into almost seventies sounding riffiness, back circa the records Exquisite Fucking Boredom and Orange Canyon Mind, but ever since then, Bower and company have been making noise with a vengeance, the sound of Skullflower and fierce and fucked up and heavy and noisy as it's ever been, Bower's black metal interests only adding to the bands hellish sonic trajectory. That's not all to say black metallers would dig this, cuz odds are, only the most extreme music obsessives among the black legions would find this particular brand of psych-skree to their liking, but heck, those of you who do fit that profile, go for it, immerse yourself, and discover just what it is about Skullflower, just what sort of black ritualistic magic lurks within the caustic black sonic sun that is Malediction. Noiseniks will no doubt flip their lids, appropriately so, but there's so much more to this 'noise', what seems like a wall of sound, crumbles into pieces revealing so much texture within, every heaving wave of punishing crunch, gradually parts revealing a delicate network of strange melodies, the sounds while on the surface seem easily defined, are in fact more complex then they might appear, guitars and drums and voices and cellos all careening chaotically into a roiling churning black sea, a bottomless sonic expanse that takes metal and sludge and doom and noise and punk rock and minimal drone music and melts it down, shaping it into something new and mysterious, a baffling, deafening sound that defies any sort of classification, as the title of an old SF record so boldly proclaimed. This is Skullflower. And THIS, is Skullflower NOW. LIMITED TO 1000 COPIES. Packaged in a six panel full color digipak with cool tripped out watercolor artwork by Bower himself.
"A'arab Zaraq ~ Ravens Of The Burning Of God" MPEG Stream:
"Drenched In Moonsblood (Waxing Gibbous)"
SKULLFLOWER Obsidian Shaking Codex (RRR) cd-r 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
SKULLFLOWER Orange Canyon Mind (Crucial Blast) cd 14.98
Skullflower's Exquisite Fucking Boredom, released last year on Andee's tUMULt label, welcomed back the seemingly retired Skullflower from a SEVEN YEAR hiatus. Skullflower mainman Matthew Bower was anything but MIA, keeping quite busy with his more blissed out Sunroof! project, as well as his equally blissed out but slightly noisier Hototogisu project. So after seven years, what was it that reanimated the slumbering corpse of Skullflower and sent the reawakened behemoth on a new path of sonic destruction. Well, it most definitely had something to do with THE RIFF. Exquisite Fucking Boredom was a throbbing pulsing ROCK record, a fucked up one for sure, but rock nonetheless. It was that relentless riffing eventually imploding on itself that convinced us that Skullflower was indeed back, to do unspeakable things with THE RIFF and offer up their own seriously skewed take on SPACE RAWK. So it seems now, with a new Skullflower record only a year later, we can rest assured that last year's return was for good. All that talk of riffs, and a last record wholly centered around a single riff, and what does Bower do? Opens the new record with a dense splattery swirl of freaked out high end skree and throbbing drone, sounding not all that unlike his old group Total. There may be riffs in there somewhere, but you'd be hard pressed to find 'em. Sounds almost like he threw all of Hawkwind in the bathtub and then tossed in a plugged in hair dryer and recorded the results. Super freaked out spaced out free noise insanity! Fear not though, track two is where the riff returns, and once again we have to think Hawkwind, or maybe Circle, or even Can, that propulsive throbbing rhythm, that endless riffing, even some almost-leads, totally hypnotic and endlessly mesmerizing, a rock band rocking out until the end of the world as the earth opens up and the sky darkens with ash, although in this instance Bower takes that apocalyptic rock business and douses it in jagged sheets of white noise and huge slabs of acid fried feedback, swirling swells of amp buzz and chaotic guitar freakout, turning a rock song into a perilous journey through a sonic shitstorm. Makes sense that Crucial Blast has adorned this with a black metal styled Skullflower logo! And so it goes for the rest of the record. A musical tug of war, riffing is subsumed by squalls of white noise, massive waves of throbbing dissonance part allowing a riff to push its way through briefly, only to be eventually swallowed up again, eventually to resurface and push relentlessly forward into a looming musical darkness only toe be obliterated again into a beautiful cloud of swirling whirling noise. Not sure if this is the best rock record we've heard all year, or the best noise record. But it's damn sure one of 'em. Heck, it just might well be both!
"Starry Wisdom" MPEG Stream:
"Orange Canyon Mind" MPEG Stream:
SKULLFLOWER Pure Imperial Reform (Turgid Animal) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We're relisting this because it was actually meant to be a highlight originally, but somehow, half of the discs we ordered went missing, so not wanting to wait forever we went ahead and listed it, then a few weeks later, lo and behold, the missing discs resurfaced. So, here we go, big time highlight, for those who are way into the new more furious and noisy Skullflower, this live set is an absolute killer. Another blast of Skullflowery fury, the second in as many months. Recorded live in 2007, live on the air, at a Belgian radio station, Pure Imperial Reform finds Skullflower mainman (only man?) Matthew Bower joined by fellow axeman Lee Stokoe for 42 minutes of unmitigated dual guitar overload. As we mentioned in the last Skullflower review, Bower and his 'Flower have gone from riff to noise to and back again over the last twenty years. The last clutch of releases finds Bower once again exploring noise in lieu of any actual riffing. So for folks expecting some sort of Exquisite Fucking Boredom or IIIrd Gatekeeper, this might just rub you the wrong way. But if you loved Bower's Total project, and the more intense and facemelting side of Skullflower, then this live set will definitely hit the spot. Two guitars, a wall of amps, the sound both white hot and in the red, these two gents spewing furious gouts of hissing fuzz from their respective axes, kicking up a planet splitting din, blown out buzz, squalls of feedback, jagged chunks of deconstructed melodies, streaks of garbled psychedelia, the guitars soaring and screaming, grinding and growling, strings scraped and bent, notes split into a million pieces, chords laid over other chords, gnarled pulsing drones, walls of full on Merzbowian white noise, all whirled into a constantly shifting, roiling miasma of fractured sonics. Like most stuff like this, a cursory listen will get you nothing but a headache and some sore ears, but dig in, dive in, lay back and let the molten flow pour over you, and suddenly, like all 'great' noise music, the layers unfold and unfurl, melodies surface, rhythms reveal themselves, the sounds, however harsh and brutal, begin to soothe and mesmerize, about halfway in, you'll be totally entranced, a master musical hypnotist, who instead of a pocket watch, swings feedback and amp destroying buzz before your heavy lidded eyes. Wicked stuff for sure, heavy, noisy, brutal and impossibly beautiful. LIMITED TO 1000 COPIES!!!
"Pure Imperial Reform (Excerpt)"
SKULLFLOWER Strange Keys To Untune God's Firmament (Neurot) 2cd 17.98
It's hard to believe Skullflower has been a band for 20+ years, and that there have been more than 40 Skullflower releases (and that's not even counting all the other non-SF projects, like Total, Sunroof!, Hototogisu, etc.), but many of us have been along for the whole ride, from the early days of crushing post industrial caveman thud rock, to the more blissed out ur-drone guitarskree, to the second wave of riff centric looped heavy drone spacerock, to the most recent incarnation, a return to incendiary, explosive, ear shreddingly psychedelic guitar noise. And we have to say, we've loved every minute of it. Don't think there was a bum disc in the lot. It is safe to say that some versions of Skullflower are more accessible, it seems like the riffier discs, opened up lots of ears, only to have them clamped down as Mr. Skullflower Matthew Bower decided to ditch the riff completely, or if not ditch it, bury it beneath an avalanche of corrosive, crumbling, amp destroying black hole white noise, which is where we find ourselves now, with this, the most recent disc from Bower and co., Strange Keys To Untune God's Firmament, a sprawling two disc collection of some of the heaviest, most punishingly brutal sounds we've heard from Skullflower maybe EVER. Which is saying a lot. Like many of the recent SF discs, Strange Keys requires some dedication, some effort, this is UNeasy listening for sure, a glancing earful will get you nothing but the surface, a blown out wall of grinding NOISE, but take a deep breath, strap on the headphones and dunk your head into this roiling blackened mess, and suddenly, your third eye is opened to all of the sonic subtleties going on within this swirling orb of guitarnoize, textures, rhythms, layers, tones and overtones, riffs (yeah, there are still riffs), what sounds like percussion, some of the tracks get downright blissful, slipping into almost Sunroof! territory, albeit less sun dappled and divine, and more heavy and harrowing, other tracks introduce lots of textures and glitched out electronic buzz, the sharp edges dulled, a muted blast of warped throb and thrum, with buried foghorns, tangled tendrils of feedback, and even some hidden melodies, only to explode moments later in a shower of jagged psychnoise shards. Fans of recent Skullflower excursions will not be disappointed, those in search of the elusive Bower riff, will just have to gird themselves and dig deep, but if you like your guitars noisy, and your drone music like a hail of rusty nails and broken glass, then, you will find your salvation in Strange Keys To Untune God's Firmament. LIMITED TO ONLY 300 COPIES!!!!!
"Shivering Aurora" MPEG Stream:
"Starlit Mire" MPEG Stream:
SKULLFLOWER Taste The Blood Of Deceiver (Not Not Fun) lp 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. First vinyl in ages from the mighty Skullflower, and much like the triple cd box reviewed elsewhere on this list, the new SF sound finds Skullflower mastermind mixing the two distinct sides of his sound, the looped hypnotic riffy side, and the free abstract noise side, and the results are pretty fantastic, forging a new sort of noise drenched, proto metal abstract free drone psychedelia, and of course incorporating all kinds of other sounds, like black metal buzz, and minimal industrial percussion. The lp is the perfect addendum to that massive triple album box, serving almost like a 4th disc in the set, covering similar ground, but with its own particular twist. Side one opens with that distinctive abstract-krautrock, metallic-psychedelic riff that only Skullfower seems to be able to pull off, looped and repetitive, but slowly shifting, almost imperceptibly, over a swirling morass of distorted buzz and feedback drenched howl, noisy and heavy but strangely meditative. The follow up shifts gears and offers up a buzzing wall of sound with soaring high end melodic streaks over the top, and what sounds like vocals buried WAY down in the mix. Hot on the heels of that one comes an awesomely droning psych rock dirge, this time with drums, and an incredibly catchy and surprisingly melodic main riff, woozy and druggy, but sounding like some classic eighties metal riff, just Skullflower-ed. And so it goes, the tracks shifting from chiming ritualistic dronemusic to buzzing abstract ambience to noisy almost-industrial plod and back again. And we're digging it big time. These two most recent releases might just be our favorite Skullflower records since Exquisite Fucking Boredom on tUMULt!
SKULLFLOWER The Paris Working 23-4-2009 (self-released) cd-r 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Another super limited missive from this latest incarnation of the mighty Skullflower, recorded earlier this year in Paris, which finds the band expanded to a four piece, including original SF member Stuart Dennison. One long nearly hour long track, and in keeping with the recent spate of SF releases, The Paris Working is more on the noise tip, eschewing any of the more riffiness that came before, replacing it with a wall of crumbling in-the-red, white hot psychedelic squall. Is there drumming? Maybe, but most of the time they're buried beneath an avalanche of pummeling free psych crush, heaving, roiling, churning, grinding guitar damage blown out into whirling clouds of sparkling high end glimmer and dizzying kaleidoscopic skree. As with most of the noisier Skullflower discs, a glancing listen reveals a sound not that far removed from straight up noise, but closer listening, further investigation, and a pair of trusty headphones reveals a sprawling world of tone and timbre, strapping on headphones to listen to this disc is like watching a 3D movie without glasses, and then finally slipping on a pair, and the whole thing comes into focus, comes alive, colors and shapes, and in the case of The Paris Working, sheets and shards and streaks of sound, swirling and careening and hovering and billowing out into a massive Technicolor fog of gorgeously chaotic abstract freeform guitarnoise. AS ALWAYS, CRAZY LIMITED, WE GET THESE DIRECT FROM SKULLFLOWER, SO WHEN WE RUN OUT IT MIGHT TAKE US A WHILE TO GET MORE (ASSUMING WE CAN GET MORE)...
SKULLFLOWER This Is Skullflower (VHF) cd 13.98
Finally available again, this essential recording from the legendary Skullflower, notable in that it was the last record before that band shut down operations for 7 years, before returning with the Exquisite Fucking Boredom release on tUMULt, which found Skullflower reborn, channeling Hawkwind and proto-metal and creating their own sort of spaced out hypno riff rock. This Is, finds the band right in between, having slowly been moving away from the industrial thud of previous discs, toward something much more spaced out and hypnotic, definitely reflecting SF mainman Matthew Bower's raga drone explorations in Sunroof! Record opener "Lounge", sets the tone for the whole record, sounding less like Skullflower, and more like No Neck Blues Band or Sunburned Hand or Avarus, a sort of meandering free jazz / free noise freakout, with skittery abstract rhythms, pounded piano, squalls of psychedelic wah guitar, but lots of space too, not a heaving mass of crush, more like a spaced out bit of psych rock abstract drift, underneath it all did definitely lurk a slab of dense drone, but here it stays in the background. Which leads directly into the slightly more ominous "Creaky Rigging", which unfurls as a loose hazy raga, long drawn out tones, spidery guitars, clouds of cymbal shimmer, barely there drums, the sound very Eastern, the sound building and building into something much more intense, but retaining that essential raga-drone-buzz core. Super hypnotic and dense, like a way looser Pelt or something, or Flying Saucer Attack minus the songs. "Glider" ups the ante a little, adding some more traditional drum pound, to it's billowing sheets of white noise guitar and streaks of squealing feedback, anchored by a pounding piano, a bit like The Dead C, working their way through a lightning storm of layered high end skree and clouds of psychedelic fried amp crunch. The record closes with a nearly 40 minute live jam "The Pirate Ship Of Reality Is Moving Out", which begins all clean guitar jangle, striped with spidery bits of atonal guitar melody, a slow avant raga, that lurches and sways, threatening to coalesce into a proper rock song, but always veering into much more abstract territory, eventually exploding in a frenzy of sawed strings, and howling psychdrone screech, before slipping into something much more spacious and contemplative, spending the next ten minutes or so navigating a field of blackened shimmer and hushed drift, before in the last few minutes, returning to the fiery salvo of the song's climax. An incredible record of avant psychedelia and abstract raga, definitely worth revisiting, especially for those who may have found Skullflower's recent releases too intense or harsh, and anyone into the above referenced bands, Pelt, The Dead C, Avarus, No Neck, Sunburned Hand, will for sure dig this, as it charts similar sonic territory, while managing to sound distinctly and uniquely like Skullflower.
"Lounge" MPEG Stream:
SKULLFLOWER Tribulation (Crucial Blast) cd 14.98
About three years ago, Matthew Bower resurrected his sleeping freenoise behemoth Skullflower, after having spent the last few years focusing on the more dreamy drone based Sunroof! That disc was a serious surprise, the new Skullflower was somehow some sort of stoned, freaked out druggy, psychedelic kraut/space/groove/stoner rock outfit. Killer psychrock riffs, looped into oblivion and buried in dense washes of outer space FX and thick sheets of tripped out ambience. We were stunned, and totally blown away. Exquisite Fucking Boredom was just about the heaviest noisiest space rock record EVER! The follow up to EFB, Orange Canyon Mind was still heavy on the riffs, but the noise quotient was cranked WAY up, as if the band had made this huge leap into some outer space drug rock alternate universe, but was sliding steadily back into the old Skullflower's swirling pit of white noise and grinding guitar feedback. So here we have record number three from Skullflower mach II, and it seems those riffs had an incredibly short half-life and have now been totally obliterated, the shards of all those dying riffs have been chopped into pieces and hurled into the spinning vortex that is Tribulation. Easily the noisiest record since the good ol' Total days (Bower's band before Skullflower), with huge sheets of white hot, blown out guitar skree, crunchy amp buzz, sparkling clouds of glitched out electronic interference, and layer after layer after layer after layer of thick squirming, slithering, shrieking guitar ROOOOOAAAR. Tribulation most definitely sounds like an army of guitars, set to kill, and leaned up against an even bigger army of feeding back amplifiers. Every track is a dense ear shredding tangle of melodic fragments and wild peals of upper register psychguitar abuse. Imagine classic Total mixed with Bower's new blacksludge outfit Mirag and you'll get a rough idea of what sort of aural punishment you're in for. Harsh and heavy, noisy and brutal, but as with most Bower projects, not without some hidden beauty, although Tribulation's hidden beauty is tucked safely away, beneath a million pounds of black hole noise rock pummel.
"Lost In The Blackened Gardens Of Some Vast Star" MPEG Stream:
"Black Wind" MPEG Stream:
SKULLFLOWER Vile Veil (Noiseville) lp 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Latest burst of glorious guitar noise from Matthew Bower and his ever evolving Skullflower, not sure who plays on this one, pretty sure they're back up to a full band, 3 piece? 4 piece? What we do know, is on Vile Veil, you can finally hear Bower's burgeoning interest in black metal seeping into the Skullflower sound. The title track sounds like it could have been listed from some lost nineties Nordic demo, all tinny buzzy riffage, buried howls, drums? Maybe, but if they're there, they're well buried under the muted murk and buzz drenched skree. Weirdly propulsive and frenetic, Bower and Co. kick out the grim frostbitten jam, infusing it with their own particular brand of blown out sheen, layered with sheets of feedback, and more noise than any self respecting black metal horde has ever had to contend with, the result though it pretty stellar, the sort of buzzing black noise that should hit the spot for metalheads and noiseniks alike. The second track is more of the same, but a bit less brittle, subtly more melodic, with the vocals creeping up in the mix, but not sounding like vocals so much as like hissy bursts of white noise static, draped over the moaning deconstructed riffage and layered high end dronescape. The final track, a side long crusher called "Vinum Sabbati", harkens back to Bower's noisier Total project, all high end and hiss and skree and screech, soaring upper register tones and loads of feedback, but the sound is sculpted into something almost orchestral sounding, strangely listenable (it's all relative!), even a bit melodic, but all wrapped in a constantly swirling cloud of caustic sonic abrasion, intense, and dense, thick and nearly overwhelming, fantastically and punishingly epic and brutal. LIMITED TO 300 COPIES. We got a bunch, but odds are these will be gone before you know it.
SKULLFLOWER / AXOLOTL Split (Bored Fortress) 7" 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A total drone/noise dream team, for the latest in Not Not Fun's Bored Fortress series of split 7"s, too bad we only managed to get about a fifteen of these, direct from Mr. Axoltol himself, who sold us his, and apparently THE, very last copies. Too bad as it's a doozy, but at least a handful of folks will get to lay their ears on this stuff. The Axolotl side sounds like Karl Axoltol crafted his track knowing full well it was going to be sharing a record with Matthew Bower's Skullflower, as it is a total slab of Sunroof! style ur-drone bliss. A wash of keening high end shimmer, a backdrop of murky upper register whirs, while over the top, a glorious cascade of glistening glimmering feedback. The Skullflower side finds the band (or the man) continuing to explore dense guitarscapes, however this track is the most musical and melodic of recent outings, a huge wash of guitars, layered and tangled, but with some serious riffage buried in the mix, streaks of feedback and a haunting minor key undercurrent. Cool eye popping full color cover art. And again, we only have fifteen or so copies so don't get your hopes upÉ
SKULLFLOWER / WHITE MEDAL split (Turgid Animal) 7" 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Yes we still have a few. WTF?? What else do you need to know besides this: SUPER LIMITED SKULLFLOWER 7". Not much we'd imagine, but heck, just in case, it might be good to know that this chunk of Skullflower guitarnoise, veers dramatically away from the spate of recent releases, that focused on a more harsh, speaker shredding, ear wrecking intensity, and slips back to something a bit more warm and washed out, definite Sunroof! territory for sure, albeit less upper register skree and more wall of thrum low end crush. Blissed out and melodic, think Jesu, Nadja, SUNNO))), but totally and distinctly Skullflower, heavy, and harsh, dense and intense, but shot through with pretty melodies and constantly shifting layers and textures, a dizzying drift of soft focus muted Merzbowian buzz. So good. Had this been stretched out into a full length record we'd be talking serious Record Of The Week contender for sure. The flipside comes from UK one man black metal horde White Medal, who counters with his own murky slab of downtuned distortion drenched doomic black buzz, a heaving sea of muddy low end and swirling muted chaos, the drums blasting away, but buried in the mix, the vocals a howling demonic inhuman wail, the sound so blurred and blackened, that it sounds almost static, even though beneath the surface, the drums are blasting, the riffs grinding, a glorious smear of woozy melancholic buzzing blackness, dense and ferocious, but washed out and weirdly melodic. Both sides rank up there with some of the best stuff we've heard from either outfit. But act fast, only 400 COPIES!
SKULLFUCK The Supreme Ugliness (Bestial Burst) cd 10.98
The Supreme Ugliness indeed! From the cover, a dizzying scribbled high school notebook scrawl of black and white shapes, tattooed musclebound cavemen (one of which is fucking a skull, natch), devils, upside down crosses, beasts of all shapes and sizes, severed heads, profanity, filthy, crusty, evil and chaotic, to the music inside. This duo spew out a brutal brew of old school metal, super harsh and stripped down midtempo death metal filth, but since it's one of the dudes from AQ faves Ride For Revenge, there are subtle bits of weirdness here and there, some freaky leads, some squiggly guitar partsÉ But for the most part, this is pure grim evil, pounding, chugging, thrashing, grinding, downtuned, distorted, doomy and ugly METAL. The drums a caveman plod, the guitar grinding and corrosive, the bass a speaker shredding throb, song titles like "Life Of Shit", "We Are The Death Cult", "100,000 Dead" and "Suicidal Rape", vocals like someone puking up barbed wire and broken glass. Occasional blasts of furious thrashing, but mostly a skull crushing midtempo pound. Don't be fooled by the sludgey crumbling distorted bass intro, which had us thinking this would be some sort of ultramega doom disc, this is foul, frightful, stumbling,murky, coarse, loathsome, odious Finnish old school death metal. And we love it!
"Life Of Shit" MPEG Stream:
"We Are The Death Cult"
SKULLVIEW Consequences Of Failure (R.I.P.) cd 14.98
First of all, you've got to admire a mostly unknown American swords-and-sorcery metal band that follows an album called "Kings of the Universe" with one titled "Consequences of Failure"! That definitely demonstrates a sense of realism amid the fantasy and an ability to laugh at oneself... Power and might are a big theme in metal, but these metal warriors know when they're licked, and have the courage to admit it -- and fight on! Of course, in a just world, they'd be huge, 'cause this, their third disc, is a damn good power metal album. Right from the get-go you'd swear it was an lost '80s Maiden LP. Their secret weapon is vocalist "Earthquake" Quimby (yes, Quimby -- good thing he's got a nickname). He's got the leather lungs of a Dickinson or Halford. And Skullview backs him up with some seriously kick ass, galloping tunes, sounding like the last album any of them bought was "Powerslave" or "Painkiller", or maybe something by Manowar or Candlemass... These guys just love metal, and if you love metal, you'll love Skullview too, 'cause they actually deliver (they don't deal merely in the trappings of '80s metal glory, but they actually have the talent to write and play solid songs). Oh, for the Sabbath fans out there, we should mention the bonus track: a cover of "Digital Bitch"!
"Time For Violence" RealAudio clip:
"Seek The Old Man For Knowledge" RealAudio clip:
"Armed With An Axe"
SKULTROLL s/t (Frequency Thirteen / Night Angels Serve) cd-r 7.98
We knew we were in for something special when we discovered the amazing Frequency Thirteen cd-r label (thanks to loyal AQ customer Andrew S. for turning us on to these guys). Bands with names like Ice Bound Majesty, Skultroll, Raperack, Black Vomit, Karaoke Vocal Eliminator. Each disc emblazoned with the label's mantra: TRUE SHEFFIELD BLACK PSYCHEDELIA. Which is pretty much the perfect description of this stuff. We might have also offered, grinding corrosive blackened hypnorock, or perhaps blacknoizemetal, or something similar, perhaps blackkrautnoizerock. Whatever you call it, this stuff is dark, and distorted, blown out and heavy as fuck, hypnotic, rhythmic, and seriously genius. This is, as far as we know, the first full length from the duo known as Skultroll, just bass and drums, but it sounds like both are being run through a blender and a dumptruck and a black hole and about a million malfunctioning distortion pedals. The sound is obviously stripped down, but the riffing is dense and intense, thick and throbbing, the drums are furious and frenzied. The band tend toward the superdistorted kraut-flecked hypno rock, settling into a groove and then just pounding it into the ground. It's easy to hear Laddio Bolocko, Lightning Bolt, Barbara, Circle and the like, albeit way heavier, way more distorted and much much blacker. At some points it even almost sounds a bit like a Black metal Terminal Cheesecake. Which, we shouldn't have to tell you, is a very very very good thing! Even the slow jams, are super thick, and crumbling to pieces before our ears, the bass loping lazily under sheets of corrosive FX, the drums pounding out a stripped down rhythm, like an evilized Can, occasionally bursting into full on grinding blasts, but almost always returning to a lurching doomic plod. The disc closes with a nearly twenty minute low end epic. The first half a murky muddy blown out slow build, the bass smeared into thick washes of black blur, the drums tribal and complex, the song gradually growing more and more propulsive, almost like some groovy stoner rock jam, pulled apart and reassembled all wrong, eventually the distortion overtaking the actual music, the drums becoming more and more abstract, the bass riffs turning into long drawn out drones. Heavy and freaked out, frightening and fucking awesome.
"Hideously Amplified World" MPEG Stream:
"Harmsworth Stove" MPEG Stream:
SKY BURIAL Aegri Somnia (Utech) cd 14.98
One of two new releases on the Utech label these week, the other from mysterious dronelords Owwl, and this one from Sky Burial, aka Mike Page, who once fronted power electronics / harsh noise outfit Fire In The Head, but since that 'group's demise, his focus has been on the much more cosmic post industrial black ambience, one that owes much to the kosmische drift of groups like Tangerine Dream Popul Vuh, but filters that kraut-psych sound through something much grimier and abjectly industrial. The results are pretty fantastic, sprawling slowburn blackened space-drift epics that creep and slither, drift and hover, oozing in ominous chordal clouds over glistening barely there melodies, and lush layered thrum, sounding almost orchestral at times, grimly majestic, the noise element still present, but muted and blurred into woozy washes of ashen grey and obsidian black. Long stretches of whirring ambience peppered with industrial clatter, and the crunch and creak of mysterious machinery, there's definitely a Wolf Eyes vibe here too, not to mention some SAXOPHONE, which was a bit unexpected, coming right at the end of the 40+ first movement, but that's not just any sax, its played by the godfather of psychedelic spaciness Nik Turner of Hawkwind, that last stretch wreathing Turner's sax in swirling tendrils of spaced out glimmer, and thick swells of chordal hum. The comparatively brief (16 minutes) second movement is a much more minimal affair, at least initially, with a sea of insectoid buzz, draped over roiling low end rumbles, both of which are soon joined by a soft cacophony of strange pulses and buzzes, as well as a dreamy wash of ethereal shimmer, soon a skeletal rhythm surfaces, before disappearing in a cloud of cosmic sci-fi FX, only to emerge a super distorted churn, the track shifting constantly, most notably when it blisses out into a hissy swirling ambience, peppered with strange processed vox, before finally finishing off in a haze of industrial rumble and psychedelic space synth drift. Sounding almost like a more industrial, more blackened Expo 70, which is not a bad thing at all. LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!! And like all Utech releases, gorgeously packaged, the cd in a black inner sleeve, along with a fold out full color poster, all housed in a super striking, black and white patterned oversized outer sleeve.
"Movement I: The Synaethete's Lament"
SKY LARKIN Kaleide (Wichita) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Sky Larkin's The Golden Spike had to be one of our favorite pop records of the last few years, crunchy propulsive noise pop of the highest order, cool complex stop start arrangements, killer choruses, incredible vocals (like PJ Harvey crossed with Bjork, sort of), mathy and occasionally dissonant, loud and rambunctious, not really super weird or twisted, just super innovative and inventive and original with hooks galore, totally rocking, and packed with a clutch of all time pop classics ("Beeline", "Fossil, I"). Record number two from this trio is turning out to be just as good, a bit darker, a bit more subdued, not nearly as wild and wooly, but the songs might end up being even better. They're the sort of songs that take a few listens, but only a few, and then you're smitten, already we find ourselves returning to record opener "Still Windmills" again and again, a gorgeously intricate and super catchy chunk of minimal pop, with a cool stripped down verse, and a soaring sing along chorus, not to mention some incredible riffing, and some great drumming, and the vocals sound better than ever. The title track is a slow burning builder, with some weird mathy arrangements that somehow do nothing to take way from the song's catchiness. "Tiny Heist" is equal parts twee pop, and fuzzy distorted noise pop, a delicate balance that perfectly suits the song, "Guitars And Antarctica" sounds like classic nineties girl pop, big guitars, moody vocals, gorgeous melodies, while "Smarts" is a cool lo-fi pop experiment, all guitar harmonics, buried drum thump, and some of the sweetest vocals on the record. "Landlocked" sounds like it could have been a B side from The Golden Spike, fuzzy guitar and wild loose distorted crunch, "Spooktacular" does too in fact, and actually, the more we listen to Kaleide, the less far removed it actually sounds from The Golden Spike, just maybe a better balance between brooding melodic introspection and crashing punked out noisy poppiness, which is most definitely a good thing. Super smart classic pop, that's definitely a contender for pop record of the year, and WAY recommended like The Golden Spike, for fans of K Records, Kill Rock Stars, Helium, Slant 6, Jale, Quixotic as well as Grass Widow, the Sandwitches, Brilliant Colors, Yellow Fever, Wet Dog and the like...
"Still Windmills" MPEG Stream:
"Kaleide" MPEG Stream:
"Spooktacular" MPEG Stream:
"Smarts (Shh Version)"
SKY LARKIN The Golden Spike (Wichita Recordings) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This would be HANDS DOWN pop record of the year, if only it came out this year, but hey, odds are most of you are only probably hearing this for the first time now, and heck, we've been trying to get this for ages, and we're thinking it may have just gotten a domestic release this year, but we've been dying to list this since one of us got an import copy from overseas last year and immediately flipped out. And all you'll need is a few tracks to see why. Maybe try "Beeline", which has to be the pop jam of this year, and last year, and maybe several years before, hooks galore, big crunchy guitars, big pounding drums, awesome Bjork / PJ Harvey-ish female vocals, a hook to die for, the song complex with multiple parts, super dynamic, with a total soaring thick almost psychedelic sounding second half finish, this is so much more than just simple pop music. It was recorded with the same guy who did recent records by Pavement, Sleater Kinney, Death Cab For Cutie, Los Campesinos! Which should definitely give you an idea of the sound, swirl in some K Records, some Nova Scotian power pop (Sloan, Eric's Trip, etc) and some PJ Harvey musical muscle, and plenty of punk rock jangle and crunch, with guitars slipping from howl to chime and back again, often wrapped up with the bass and drums into huge sounding instrumental squalls, but never losing touch with the pop heart that drives these songs. All the songs on The Golden Spike are fantastic, take "Fossil, I", that opens the record with soaring harmonies and dissonant riffing, before slipping into something more simple and catchy, but the track proceeds to flit back and forth, from super melodic and almost twee to wild and mathy and super rocking. And so it goes from there on out, pretty much every song is a noise pop gem, each one prime mixtape material for sure. The magical thing about this record is that it's not weird or fucked up or anything, it's just a practically perfect pop record with verses and choruses and all the usual pop song stuff, but it's the execution, and the songs themselves, the melodies, the hooks, the way the songs are constructed, the sound of the guitar, the vocals, oh the vocals, and just consistently super unique and interesting arrangements, that make the songs as exciting as they are immediately unforgettable. Just listen to the sound samples and we're pretty sure you'll be hooked. Anyone into the new wave of female fronted pop groups a la Sandwitches, Grass Widow, Brilliant Colors, Yellow Fever, as well as the bands who were making similar sounds back in the day Quixotic, Helium, Slant 6 and the like, will definitely have found a new favorite...
"Beeline" MPEG Stream:
"Fossil, I" MPEG Stream:
"Octopus '08" MPEG Stream:
"One Of Two"
SKY LARKIN The Golden Spike (Wichita Recordings) lp 15.98
This would be HANDS DOWN pop record of the year, if only it came out this year, but hey, odds are most of you are only probably hearing this for the first time now, and heck, we've been trying to get this for ages, and we're thinking it may have just gotten a domestic release this year, but we've been dying to list this since one of us got an import copy from overseas last year and immediately flipped out. And all you'll need is a few tracks to see why. Maybe try "Beeline", which has to be the pop jam of this year, and last year, and maybe several years before, hooks galore, big crunchy guitars, big pounding drums, awesome Bjork / PJ Harvey-ish female vocals, a hook to die for, the song complex with multiple parts, super dynamic, with a total soaring thick almost psychedelic sounding second half finish, this is so much more than just simple pop music. It was recorded with the same guy who did recent records by Pavement, Sleater Kinney, Death Cab For Cutie, Los Campesinos! Which should definitely give you an idea of the sound, swirl in some K Records, some Nova Scotian power pop (Sloan, Eric's Trip, etc) and some PJ Harvey musical muscle, and plenty of punk rock jangle and crunch, with guitars slipping from howl to chime and back again, often wrapped up with the bass and drums into huge sounding instrumental squalls, but never losing touch with the pop heart that drives these songs. All the songs on The Golden Spike are fantastic, take "Fossil, I", that opens the record with soaring harmonies and dissonant riffing, before slipping into something more simple and catchy, but the track proceeds to flit back and forth, from super melodic and almost twee to wild and mathy and super rocking. And so it goes from there on out, pretty much every song is a noise pop gem, each one prime mixtape material for sure. The magical thing about this record is that it's not weird or fucked up or anything, it's just a practically perfect pop record with verses and choruses and all the usual pop song stuff, but it's the execution, and the songs themselves, the melodies, the hooks, the way the songs are constructed, the sound of the guitar, the vocals, oh the vocals, and just consistently super unique and interesting arrangements, that make the songs as exciting as they are immediately unforgettable. Just listen to the sound samples and we're pretty sure you'll be hooked. Anyone into the new wave of female fronted pop groups a la Sandwitches, Grass Widow, Brilliant Colors, Yellow Fever, as well as the bands who were making similar sounds back in the day Quixotic, Helium, Slant 6 and the like, will definitely have found a new favorite...
"Beeline" MPEG Stream:
"Fossil, I" MPEG Stream:
"Octopus '08" MPEG Stream:
"One Of Two"