Skullflower - Orange Canyon Mind

01. Starry Wisdom
02. Orange Canyon Mind
03. Annihilating Angel
04. Vampires Breath
05. Ghosts Ice Aliens
06. Goat Of A Thousand Young
07. Star Hill
08. Forked Lightning

Matthew Bower is undoubtedly the key behind the British noise rock scene, appearing in and contributing to a dizzying array of influential outputs including the seminal Double Leopards, the weird and beautiful Sunroof! and his more recent work in Mirag to name a handful, but Skullflower has been his constant in terms of quality, varied experimental music and noise and early works such as 'IIIrd Gatekeeper' and 'Xaman' are held in high regard for shaping British noise rock today.

Compared to his other releases, and most definitely his more recent work, 'Orange Canyon Mind' is a far easier listening experience, conveying a warm psychedelic buzz rather than a harsh, low-end white noise assault, achieved by being very much a rock album at its core with prominent Sabbathian riffage throughout. Entirely without drums and vocals, instead, meticulous layers of haze, distorted droning guitar feedback and mind altering noise conjure images of vast digital extraterrestrial fields of rainbow coloured grass saturated with drugged up robotic insects. The lengthy songs both reward and test listeners, intoxicating them with a fluctuating and unpredictable melange of ever winding static and guitar groove, like trying to crawl your way out of an acid trip turning bad. Despite the somewhat extreme nature of the style one cannot help being enveloped in a gleeful hypnotic daze, especially with comparatively subtle tracks like 'Starry Wisdom' and the album title track. With respect to this, the album structure is somewhat methodical, the initial aforementioned tracks bleeding into more challenging and seemingly chaotic compositions, finally relenting with 'Forked Lightning'; an uncompromising harsh noise onslaught and intriguingly, a logical lead on to the follow up album 'Tribulations'. Highlight tracks include 'Annihilating Angel' with its swathes of soft terror and expert use of what could almost be construed as noise breakdowns and 'Ghost Ice Aliens' catchy and repetitive riffs harking back to the delicious monotony of the 'Exquisite Fucking Boredom' LP.

The aesthetics of the track names have always been a good indicator of what Bower might have intended with his music: contradictory extremes, the infinity of space and nature and even human mental breakdown. This, combined with the album art's stark contrasting alien green and earthy muddy brown/orange, create a weird tapestry that amplifies the sonic textures exponentially.

I dare say this is an ideal start for Skullflower beginners (and precisely where I began my journey down Noise Lane), and perhaps a good introduction to some of the more unusual and modern noise rock releases today. Though decidedly less complex and easier going than say 'Desire For A Holy War,' on its own merits this is a fascinating and evocative piece of meta-metal that should prove an interesting departure for open minded metal fans. To noise connoisseurs however, this release may seem somewhat standard, instead preferring the indecipherable levels of both older and new Skullflower works. Jonathan Selzer of Terrorizer made an interesting comment about Skullflower describing them as "Sunn O))) inverted." The slow, ten-ton drones translating into high frequency bursts of heated light; searing brain cells and shattering teeth. Food for thought?

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Production: 9


written by !J.O.O.E.! | 10.01.2009

Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


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spirit_inblack - 18.04.2011 at 19:53  
I'd give it an 8 - 8.5, since there are a couple tracks I don't like as much as the others, but it's still one hell of an experience. I always get this weird sensory vibe like everything is red/brown and green covered in a shimmering haze like the album cover. That probably sounds really dumb. I'm starting to like the more noisy tracks the best, but Ghosts Ice Aliens is definitely my favorite right now, just because as you mentioned, it's really catchy, and it has a stoner vibe.
!J.O.O.E.! - 18.04.2011 at 20:40  
Written by spirit_inblack on 18.04.2011 at 19:53

I always get this weird sensory vibe like everything is red/brown and green covered in a shimmering haze like the album cover. That probably sounds really dumb.

Not in the slightest, in fact I totally agree. Colour can play a vital role in contextualising and interpreting this type of music and it's no surprise that the cover art can play a large part in manipulating this, phenomenon, if you will. It's just the way the brain paints a visual image in the mind.
Mr. Doctor - 06.05.2013 at 16:22  
Yesterday I finally gave a spin to the two Skullflower albums I got from Roadburn a few weeks ago, namely IIIrd Gatekeeper and this one.
I actually felt this one was harder to get into than IIIrd Gatekeeper which was an instant "love it!". I need more time with this one since I consider it to be more complex and with many layers than need a couple fo more listens to discover and enjoy. But yeah, it's fucking awesome... i jus don't know how awesome it is right now.

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