Thursday, June 07, 2018
Skullflower - Werecat Powers of the Crossroads at Midnight
Nashazaphone. NP25. LP
Someone pointed out that in the last roundup of Nashazaphone releases I forgot to include even a mention of the Skullflower LP ‘Werecat Powers ...’. This may have been subliminal. I did play it. It buzzed around my head but me and Skullflower sort of kind of don’t get on. Me preferring Bowers more contemplative work with Marcia Bassett under The Hototogisu moniker and specifically that splendidly titled De Stijl triple LP 'Floating Japanese Oof!' A 3 LP set that still manages to float my oof.
Back in the 90’s I saw Skullflower at the 1 in 12 in Bradford. Bower played his guitar with his back to the audience, all knobs on 10, for what must have been an hour, which at its end was just me and Paul Harrison. I once saw him in Manchester in a room above a pub [twas ever thus] knelt on the floor in front of a set of speakers waving two microphones about creating equally damaging, swirling waves of noxious feedback [which didn’t empty the room].
So I think I’ve got Skullflower sussed. Prejudice is a terrible trait though and blind prejudice is the worst of the lot. So there’s a very big chance that I may have had my Skullflower blinkers on when I penned that last Nashazaphone review realising subconsciously that I had left it out and not caring that I did.
My respect for Nashazaphone and its founder Hicham Chadly means that I now beg all your forgivenesses and give you my most humble opinion of ‘Werecat Powers …' which despite the title I find myself warming to. I may go further. I actually deeply like it. Not love it or want to marry it but if I heard it while at a friends house I would inquire of that person as to its origins and where I could purchase a copy. I even like the Bacon-esque cover.
Here Skullflower is Matthew Bower and Samantha Davies with their ongoing part of a Nashazaphone trilogy that according to the press release revolves around investigations in to the ‘Darkness of Aegypt’ which leads me to believe the pair may have been taking succor from Norman Mailer’s Ancient Evenings, a book I’ve never got around to despite it getting the thumbs up from William Burroughs and being sat on my to read pile for years.
If this is what Skullflower are up to know I’m interested. All three tracks bear a similarity with the first side long track ‘We Move on Points of Shattered Mirrors’ a ceremonial like, buried deep, high end drone containing what I’m taking to be heavily processed guitars that constantly crash against each other in collapsing waves of Stygian gloom. The flip ‘Charnel Ground’, is a bass heavy throbbing oscillating drone that masks all manner of guitar skitter while last track ‘Departure Lounge’ has a more cinematic appeal, the drone surging and falling, forever being pulled out of shape to an undercurrent of soaring ritual rhythm.
How this fits in with more recent Skullflower work I have no idea but I now fear I've been missing out. I'll put Floating Japanese Oof! to one side for a while. I have some catching up to do.