Dusted Reviews

Skullflower - Orange Canyon Mind

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Skullflower

Album: Orange Canyon Mind

Label: Crucial Blast

Review date: Jun. 12, 2005

Matthew Bower, aural alchemist behind the curtain of such iconic outfits as Vibracathedral Orchestra, Sunroof!, Whitehouse, Total, and the superbly moniker’d Fistfuck, tops tUMULt’s Exquisite Fucking Boredom with new soul scrambler, Orange Canyon Mind.

Like a hefty majority of Skullflower releases, Mind is still combatively dense, and passively psychedelic. Guitars and FX darkly couple, spawning massive arabesques that respire through seemingly organic amplifiers.

Shake the beaded doorway and incense visions, however – hearing Mind is like being stabbed in the head while on a pile of psilocybin. Bower doesn’t come drenched in Rit dye; he’s here to lay the bummer down, and it lasts longer than a whole decade’s worth of Dark Stars.

As with Boredom, Bower continues his compelling style of guitar calisthenics that engage numerous exercises: Touchstones include – but are not limited to – Head of David’s Dustbowl, and a sweltering sprint through the Kraut Rock corpus. Cluster II’s shortwave squelch fizzes through elastic riffs; angular notes bend themselves into non shape, falling into the static potholes that Japan’s Koji Tano, a.k.a. MSBR, attempted to fill with a relentless battery of cassette releases. Individual notes are formed and smashed like windshields by softball-sized hail; what’s left is a pearly green glass of sound: crunchy, slivered, and dangerous.

Much of Mind engages the Dik Mik cum Bardo Thodl mode that has come to define the sound of Hototogisu – the noir duo of Double Leopard Marcia Bassett and Matthew Bower: Electronics assemble a din of repetitive gestures while hirsute guitars chatter to one another. Is it that the themes change? Or that the ears think they’ve seen what the brain can’t hear? Flummoxed or not, the end result is about as unsettling as witnessing a mockingbird calling incessantly for her young while the neighborhood cat picks through the remnants of the slaughter stuck to the bottom of the nest.

As Mind’s tracks pile up, the reinvention continues. Bower steals “motorik” from the drummer for the title track, a six-minute hummer that takes the staidness of Sonic Youth’s “Tunic (Song for Karen)” and rubs searing curlicues around its perimeter. Admittedly, the first few cuts are the least compelling: By the time the yawning void of “Vampire’s Breath” hits the air, any missteps are quickly forgotten/forgiven. This is the music that Bava and Argento’s films begged to be cloaked in.

The horror analogue persists throughout the remainder of the disc – with titles like “Ghost Ice Aliens,” and “Goat of a Thousand Young,” Skullflower milk guitars of all their cerise dyed corn syrup, upping the ante for the noise crowd who’ve eschewed Bernhard Günter for Baphomet. Mind’s carnage is conducted so effortlessly, that the entire recording may be received as an hour long taunt; 60 minutes detailing a thousand ways to say Fuck You.

But intent matters little by the time Mind runs its course: This is a staggering record that displays an authoritative grasp of sound. It seems to matter little whether or not Skullflower’s sound “progresses” – having more of the same has never felt so laden with choice.

By Stewart Voegtlin

Other Reviews of Skullflower

Exquisite Fucking Boredom


Strange Keys to Untune Gods’ Firmament

Read More

View all articles by Stewart Voegtlin

Find out more about Crucial Blast

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.