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Sunroof! - Spitting Gold Zebras

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Artist: Sunroof!

Album: Spitting Gold Zebras

Label: Bottrop-Boy

Review date: Aug. 7, 2007

Matthew Bower's been busy of late, resurrecting Skullflower, releasing solo material, and embarking on a string of shows and releases with Hototogisu. Spitting Gold Zebras finds the prolific Bower awakening Sunroof! with renewed vigor, this time largely as a solo effort, with some help from a few choice collaborators. The disc picks up where the most aggressive Sunroof! offerings left off, placing the listener amidst a dense maelstrom of sound, constantly shifting and wholly enveloping. It's an environment that can inspire claustrophobia, but Bower seems right at home among the swirling sounds and dense noise. Spitting Gold Zebras shows it, burning with an underlying sense of sheer euphoria.

Its sounds can be oppressive, and Spitting Gold Zebras certainly isn't a blatantly feel-good album, but Bower's chaotic constructions aren't simply fits of nihilistic fury. There's a celestial ecstasy within the uproar that hits the ears, some sort of spiritual boost amongst the feedback, fuzz and growl. Bower, assisted at different times by C. Spencer Yeh (Burning Star Core), Mick Flower (Vibracathedral Orchestra) and Marc Orleans (Sunburned Hand of the Man), isn't a meticulous music maker, but Spitting Gold Zebras repeatedly showcases 1,001 sounds melded into a greater whole, with Bower's guitar and any number of effects and instruments engaged in full-on musical intercourse, an orgy of writhing sound. The four untitled tracks take on different personalities – some more ethereal, others with a far more pronounced jagged edge – but the final effect is the same: a tumultuous, boiling and unpredictable chorus.

There's an anonymity to Spitting Gold Zebras; though Bower is the obvious creator of much of the sound, identifying particular instruments, effects and techniques can be a challenge. Bower uses this to his advantage, to the point that when an individual voice breaks to the forefront of the cacophony, it can ruin the effect of the mind-numbing din. The individual contributions are best heard en masse, intertwined with one another, with no single sound leading the pack. The haphazard democracy of Bower's construction works beautifully, preserving an erratic and dynamic interplay within the greater whole. Bower may have worked alone on much of Spitting Gold Zebras, but Sunroof! remains an ensemble to be reckoned with on this, Bower's latest bundle of joy.

By Adam Strohm

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