Skullflower Abyssic Lowland Hiss

[Heavy Blossom; 2007]

Styles: experimental, noise
Others: Workbench, Zaimph, Hototogisu, Matthew Bower

Hey, you got your noise in my Sunroof! No, you got your Hototogisu in my noise!

If you're obsessed with everything Matthew Bower, you might have noticed the direction that Skullflower's been heading. After triumphantly returning to rawk form with 2005's Orange Canyon Mind, last year's Tribulation saw the band scaled back down to a solo effort. What spawned from that was an album considerably less rock-sounding, relying more on treble-heavy guitar noise with just a hint of structure underneath the filth. Abyssic Lowland Hiss sees Bower teaming up with Lee Stokoe, known better perhaps for his noise work under the Culver guise, and the results are... interesting?

What hits you the most about this album is how dense it is. Despite how oppressive Lee's rumble is on "I," he leaves just enough breathing room for Bower's affected guitar and feedback, and it's fantastic. Although devoid of any real form in Matthew's playing, it really stays with me, especially during the first half. You may throw this on and hear nothing but noise and not pick up on the subtler aspects, but there's some beauty here; all it takes is a bit of patience and fondness for a little chaos. That's the simple approach Skullflower take with these five tracks, which were recorded live from two separate shows this year.

Normally, I'm not a fan of dense noise. It can bore the hell out of you if there aren't enough other things added in to keep it fresh. Thankfully, Bower's soothingly played guitar minimalism creates a great juxtaposition. Like I said, this won't sit well with everyone, especially since gone is the psych-rock riffing of yore. But where Skullflower go from here will be interesting, and I know that I'll be along for the ride.

Most Read