Skullflower - _Orange Canyon Mind_
(Crucial Blast, 2005)
by: T. DePalma (8.5 out of 10)
When illusion is the locus of songcraft, nothing remains sacred or objective. The listening experience becomes a black lodge where one is able to confront themselves, relying on imagination to weld together loose narratives, finding the way through a maze of deceptive constructs. _Orange Canyon Mind_ is an invitation to another man's dream, dependant upon the receiver for its conclusion. Opening to moments of neutrality, at the same time it's an aid to our own expansive recess. The responsibilities of distress and potential become shifted onto a conscious agent wading through the varied tones herein; we follow the devil through the halls of his castle, seduced and yet drifting with a degree of freedom because nothing seems for certain.

Skullflower is the decade's old creation of one Matthew Bower, involved in noise / electronic music since the early '80s with projects such as Ramleh and Total, now involved with the likes of Sunroof! and Vibracathedral Orchestra. Bower's career is an impressive family tree of the UK scene whose sinful fruit ensnared one particular youth towards a similar direction: Justin Broadrick of Godflesh. Bower's music involves gradual hypnosis as denuded rhythms beat under fluctuating rounds of high frequency feedback and formless wah-wah filtered guitar leads. Just as all seems to become one, new elements appear; stages of sound within cyclonic anti-verse of preternatural rock. You can't take this stuff lightly. There's nothing to latch onto while going about the day, too harsh to spin as background music, too totalizing to carry for travel. It's the kind of album I schedule my day around; set aside an hour for. Prepare, absorb... alone and then...

Light strumming of guitar and faintly appearing flute accent a more Krautrock vibe to this record (people will draw their own conclusions, but for me it's specifically Popol Vuh's _Aguirre_, both tranquil and shamanistic). The lack of bass on _OCM_ is the most glaring detraction (discounting tolerance for the actual music) and takes some adjusting to on its own. From here on the combined effect of Bower's work appears like clouds and sunspots as the true and apparent voice of the record become intermingled in colorfully assaultive waves of noise (caustic tears and prickly pitched beeps ala Steven Stapleton) with imperial themes riding under muted blast beats; static swarms of digital cicadas traveling through the colonnades of stone and lightning. _Orange Canyon Mind_ is a welter of ectoplasmic timbre, vibrating between psychedelic and nearly black metal aesthetics. Once fully drawn in the only thing I find temporarily unnerving is that gradual ebb in power towards the end of each track, threatening to fade into silence and drain the brilliant landscape. How much I want to sink back into these dreams.


(article published 25/8/2005)

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