Skullflower The Black Iron That Fell From the Sky to Dwell Within (Bear it or Be It)
Published Mar 29, 2017Cairo-based imprint Nashazphone has been slowly unleashing vinyl slabs filled with mutant psychedelia, coruscating noise and outright experimental sounds for about a decade; it was 2006 when the label launched by dropping Sun City Girls' Djinn Funnel LP.
British noise-drone maverick Matthew Bower has been a perennial favourite of the label, with both his Hototogisu duo project — in which he crosses swords with noisenik Marcia Bassett — and his Sunroof! alter ego previously being represented in the Nashazphone catalogue. The label's latest set of missives includes a pair of releases attributed to either Bower himself or to a one-time band-mate (Gary Mundy's Kleistwahr alias).
This time around, Bower is represented by one of his longest-running projects, known as Skullflower. With an ever-evolving roster of musical antagonists and a constantly fluctuating sonic orbit, Skullflower is represented on this LP, titled The Black Iron That Fell From the Sky to Dwell Within (Bear it or Be It), by guitarist Bower and cellist/violinist Samantha Davies. It exhibits an aural trajectory that feels like echoes of the dark psychedelic rock purveyed by earlier incarnations of the group, grafted onto the shimmering drones of the more recent Bower outings.
An unrelenting wall of fluctuating string vortices, the unparalleled power of "Blue Lidded Daughter of Sunset" is punctuated by bursts of bomb-like percussive rage that appear to emanate from Bower's feedback-addled guitar. The banshee wails of "Feral Alchemy" reach an unlikely crescendo as the A-side fades from existence, before the cerebellum-shredding shrieks of the B-side take over and spiral toward an occult madness.
Longtime fans of Bower's brand of wizardry will find much to love here, and newcomers looking for melodic ear punishment should definitely step right up, too. (Nashazphone)