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Label & Cat.Number: Cold Spring Records CSR190CD
Release Year: 2015
Note: "Synapse scorching occult industrial prog noise folk" - great epic album by the duo of MATTHEW BOWER & SAMANTHA DAVIES, who combine their psychedelic / ecstatic noise mantras with eastern mythological depth & mysteries, mainly based on massive guitar & violin layers... "These are some of the most epic and evocative tracks ever released by Skullflower: huge slabs of metaphysical noise with the awe-inspiring primeval-ness of ancient stone circles." [Dusted mag]
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €17.50
More Info"Synapse scorching occult industrial prog noise folk from the strings of Matthew Bower and Samantha Davies.
Churning mantras and drukpa elegies for two erased darkside tree limbs: that of the Draconian in Khem, and of Drax Priory in West Yorkshire, which together with Bhutan are the Dragon Lands. The twilight language of flowers is spoken and wolves are raised, finally, Kali dances. For fans of Bathory and Popul Vuh.
Comes in a deluxe 6-panel outsized double-digipak with a 16-page booklet." [label info]
"Listening to the music of Skullflower is a psychedelic experience in the same way that staring at a blank wall or ceiling in the dark whilst on acid, drunk out of your skull and/or high on grass (delete as applicable) can be. It’s as overbearing and unwavering as the open-ended violin drone compositions of Tony Conrad or the blasted walls of sound spat out by the likes of Vomir or the Rita. It’s proof that a full-on sonic assault can, in the right context, be as blissful and, I’ll say it again, psychedelic as the tripped-out musings of a Grateful Dead or Amon Düül II. It just takes more patience and a willingness to enter into labyrinthine minds of Matt Bower and Samantha Davies. Bower, in particular, has been ploughing this arcane, extreme furrow for the best part of 30 years, gradually honing it until he’s reached something approaching “tantric noise,” like Pärson Sound with the acoustic circular melodies replaced by unending acidic mechanical bile.
For Draconis, the duo returns to the absolutist vein of 2006’s Tribulation and Strange Keys to Untune God’s Firmament from four years later: this latest album, is impossibly long. The tracks bleed into one another like melting glaciers and the primitive song structures of 2011’s superlative Fucked on a Pile of Corpses are whittled away by saturation and excruciating volume. But compared to those two releases, Skullflower have been given (or gave themselves) license to flesh things out a bit, notably via the lush packaging. The album comes in a six-panel double-digipack, complete with a 16-page booklet overflowing with lush illustrations and bizarre photographs that both detail Draconis’ thematic concerns and deepen the mystery.
Bower has long had a fascination with arcana and mythological lore, although his focus is, as ever, enigmatic. The paintings that adorn these pages are abstract yet sinister, with vivid colours and strangely animalistic shapes creating an unerring sense of moody drama, as if we’re gazing at ancient humankind’s primitive attempts to recreate the legends of the earth’s creation or the epic battles of Norse mythology. Obscure symbols crop up here and there, whilst sketches and texts evoke trees, dragons and pyramids under the stars, drawing lines in myth and science from the north of England to Bhutan via ancient Egypt and the Hindu goddess Kali. Keeping things as vague and mysterious as possible only accentuates the album’s heady form of lyrical psychedelia. I cannot pretend to understand Bower and Davies’ vision, for I do not have their knowledge or imagination, but it sucks you in like a tornado, because you can’t help but try to figure it out.
“Tornado” is also a great metaphor for the music on Draconis. Each track on disc one is a veritable maelstrom of noise with extensive layer of “strings” (live they focus on guitar and violin, but sometimes I swear I can hear synths on Draconis, albeit bludgeoned into abstraction by effects) superimposed and swirling around one another like gales of wind blowing in every direction at once. Disc two is slightly more nuanced, from the two-minute opener “Alien Awakening” (there are aliens in here as well!) that sounds like Keiji Haino recorded in a wind tunnel mid-solo to the epic musical tapestry of 15-minute closer “Dakshinikalika” via “Dresden Spires”’ crumbling blocks of industrial crunch.
These are some of the most epic and evocative tracks ever released by Skullflower: huge slabs of metaphysical noise with the awe-inspiring primeval-ness of ancient stone circles, ice-capped mountains or ruined industrial buildings. In translating nature’s mystery and majesty into noise, Skullflower have thrown a curveball into the genre’s progression, taking out of sweaty club spaces and into somewhere more spectral, contemplative and, yet again, psychedelic. It’s no wonder the band mention Popol Vuh on the label’s website.
But should anyone reading this be tempted to regard Bower and Davies as little more than two slightly unhinged hippies with a taste for noise and post-pagan mumbo-jumbo, I urge you to check out their back catalogue and anything else you can find on them. There’s a vein of sly, sardonic humour that runs through their entire work (encapsulated here by a picture of their cat looking bemused in the booklet), whilst all this sturm-und-drang conceals first and foremost a deep sense of humanity: our past, our present, our future, our emotions and our fears.
It’s hard to tell if this hour and fifteen minutes of noise and drone is a definitive Skullflower statement, but it does what all great music must: it throws open the doors of possibility, asks more questions than it answers, and aims for something beyond the mundanities of reality." [Joseph Burnett / Dusted Mag.]
"The first thing that crossed my mind as I was confronted with this newest work of Skullflower is the beauty of the package. The album is a double disc nicely wrapped into a DVD-sized blue-colored cardboard artwork. However considered from the view of conventional music the musically containment is in a radical opposition to the term beauty - not a great surprise considering the style of U.S.-project Skullflower. Behind the project you find the two members Matt Bower and Samantha Davies. Especially Matt Bower is a legend on the experimental scene having operated in the field in more than two decades. Having released quite a number of noise-related albums, Skullflower belongs to the more abrasive part of the noise-scene. The music on "Draconis" is a collage of noise textures combined with concrete sounds. The expression reminds me of the noisier moments of coil in the period around "Constant shallowness leads to evil" thanks to the kind of strangely alluring drones that causes some
kind of trippy drowsiness in a quite interesting manner. Also early kraut-rock bands such as Popul Vuh comes into my mind as I listen to the "Draconis"-album. 75 minutes of alluring noise music. Excellent." [NM/Vital Weekly]
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