skullflower rfi

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i've noticed a couple of mentions of them on ilm recently (maybe by julio/ned?), and i picked up one of their albums for 3 quid last week. i've only heard it once, but it struck me as pretty good in a noisy drone kinda way, so tell me more...

toby, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

somehow i don't think i'm going to get too many responses to this one.

toby, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Ned is the guy who I asked. I found IIIrd Gatekeeper for a song at Amoeba. It's great. They're like British version of Earth.

Alex in SF, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Which album did you pick up Toby? I only have two. Carved into Roses is for me, one of the best alb of the 90s. Its a rock drone masterpiece. There's four studio tracks and two (in the middle section of the alb) that are recorded live. these have 'vocals'. and the whole thing is definetely influenced by the mighty Dead C.

Recently I picked up a copy of Argon and yeah, its heavy stuff. If you can sit through the four tracks in 78 minutes then, yes, you're made of stronger stuff than I am and these ppl were paying attention to side 2 of Funhouse but of course it is way way better than anything iggy & co. could make. Just rock drones with saxophone/chinese horns and all instrumental. I can only take so much punishment!

There's a very good skullflower page. Just google it. All alb info and interviews w/various members. You'll find info on Ascension/Descension if you want some more improv-based stuff that was made by S.Jaworzyn (a former skullflower member).

If anyone has copies of any skullflower alb other than these two then I'm up for some tape trading (of course not for a while as I am away from home but once I get back...).

Julio Desouza, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I'm currently accepting trade offers for the very rare and desirable "cd rot" version of Xaman on Shock.

dan, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

julio: i'm pretty sure the one i've got is neither of those; i'll check when i go home this evening.

toby, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

toby= do check and if you want any more then get in touch.

Julio Desouza, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

it is iiird gatekeeper. yeah i'll get in touch soon julio.

toby, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

As I've been invoked -- the page Julio talks about is here and is indeed laden with goodness, go visit. Fantastically great band, I'm still chasing down many of their releases (got about...seven? eight?...so far). Then there's Total and Sunroof! and...

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

got a sunroof! alb which somehow isn't as good. Skullflower apparently are set to return. has anybody got any info on this.

Julio Desouza, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

a friend of mine was going to release their new EP but things wound up not working out; apparently matt bower got some guys from a death metal (?!) band and taught them how to play the stuff he wanted to do. i've also heard that there's stuff planned for after _that_ involving neil campbell and a more sunroof!-descended lineup.

recommended skullflower listening:
_ruins_ (compiled early material, like whitehouse meets loop)
_carved into roses_ (maximalist drone rock)
_transformer_ (sort of skullflower-as-rock-classique)
_xaman_ (with stefan jaworzyn, this is probably their best)
late research reveals that, apparently, tumult is going to be doing the ep ("super limited", great, just great) and a singles/rarity comp.

related & recommended listening: total - any of the majora releases; _beyond the rim_ is pretty caustic early stuff that reminds me of early-middlin' stuff by gate. later releases remained abrasive as hell but varied the tonal palette a little bit. _silver pillows_, a 10", is probably my favorite total release ranging from trash noise with pot-and-pan gamelan to mellow almost song forms. basically, expect drones, noise, and a possible migraine from total.

sunroof! - _delicate autobahn_ is essentially NNCK sounding; the better stuff is _found star sound_ and the _slipstream_ cdr. there's also an LP and 7" on giardia, another cdr or two, and the new double CD "bliss".

ax (and novatron) - ax is anthony "ani" difranco doing drone/noise sort of like total but less anarchic and more varied. _nova feedback_ is pretty amazing stuff, noisy and harsh but with great effort put into making the tracks distinct, so they don't all blur together. _astronomy_ gets a little too into simple white noise, but it is very harsh and worth a listen if you can handle it. novatron is difranco's new project, a duo, and the music is more in an ant-zen/hymen noise-ambient-techno vein.

i know next to nothing about ramleh or ascension, but as this page should help.

your null fame, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

But YNF, I already linked that page. ;-)

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

'i know next to nothing about ramleh or ascension'

Second that in ramleh's case but Ascension I do. Last time I checked AMG the retard who 'reviewed' ascension had only got hold of three titles LP. This has a record of their first gig and, on the other side, a studio track. While I'm not too hot on their first gig, lets remember it is their first gig and its not a disaster and actually it is well worth having for the wonderful riffage on the second side 18- minute track (though Tony Irving's drumming isn't well recorded).

Overall its like saying the first few beatles records suck because they weren't experimenting and just doing boy band type stuff (actually, all beatles records suck even though i've only heard one).

I say this because 'Five titles' and 'broadcast' (the latter a live broadcast for a radio station in san francisco (double CD), the former a collection of studio and live tracks) are both ABSOLUTELY FUCKING MIND BLOWING AND GO FUCK YOURSELVES IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ME. Put quite simply these improvisations rock, and Irving 'skull smashing' type drumming makes him one my fave drmmers evah. he perfectly complements Jaworzyn death metal meets derek bailey/sonny sharrock type guitar work.

Descension is Jaworzyn/irving plus simon fell on bass and charles warf on drums. The 1st part is OK recorded (48 mins improvisation). The last two parts are pretty bad (you can hardly hear simon fell) but its well worth having because it sounds like good speaker damage stuff anyway.

But yeah hopefully someone will reissue skullflower's 'Xaman' and some of the other stuff (though if you have anything we can always talk as I've said earlier).

Julio Desouza, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

''a friend of mine was going to release their new EP but things wound up not working out; apparently matt bower got some guys from a death metal (?!) band and taught them how to play the stuff he wanted to do. i've also heard that there's stuff planned for after _that_ involving neil campbell and a more sunroof!-descended lineup.''

Bower teaching ppl how to play, huh? Skullflower's name has been cited as an influence in some of these 'death'/'sludgy-er' metal type band. Old man Gloom got mentioned in terrorizer i seem to remember as being influenced by skullflower. I completely forgot to check their last alb out.

Its gonna be tough to recreate some of their former glories (or even to carve a new direction on their own).

''tumult is going to be doing the ep ("super limited", great, just great) and a singles/rarity comp.''

I'll have to hunt this down. Thanks!

Julio Desouza, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

But YNF, I already linked that page. ;-)

yeah...but..uh... *cough*. mmm-hm.

your null fame, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i completely forgot one - the hototogisu. though it's been described as being a lost japanese ethnic/improv group from the 70s (a la taj mahal travellers) i'm pretty sure bower is involved with them. their first release was on his label (REP), after all. essentially, the hototogisu is like a more playful, less abrasive version of sunroof, with toy instruments and an awesome, mellow zen vibe running through it. two releases so far: _the white wind of autumn_ cdr on rural electrification program (essential!!) and a ltd LP on de stijl called _cuckoo cloudland_.

your null fame, Thursday, 20 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

So after all this Skullflower talk I went down to Amoeba and picked up Carved in Roses and this really peculiar looking live (maybe?? there is real lack of information on the case--it might be studio, eh maybe it will be obvious when I listen to it later) CD with a fantastic cover called Obsidian Shaking Codex which is from 92-93. Frankly I am shocked by how easy it is to find their stuff used here (this stuff is all of out of print) and frankly pretty cheap (none of these were more than $8). I am still looking for Last Shot at Heaven though (THE HARD TO FIND Skullflower rekkid apparently hahaha) and I am super excited about the tUMULT thing. So much for just a few responses, Toby (who knew?)

Alex in SF, Saturday, 22 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

''Frankly I am shocked by how easy it is to find their stuff used here''

So am I! You guys have all the luck.

Julio Desouza, Saturday, 22 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

six months pass...
What is this 'CD rot' version of Xaman? I picked this album up used today for a whopping 9 dollars, and sure enough, at about 12 1/2 minutes into the last track, it starts to weird out; very regular pulsations of near-silence, sounding as if the laser were firing through muck, getting slowly worse until the end. My walkman won't even play it, but my home stereo handles it fine. My first reaction was "goddamn it, I finally find a Skullflower album and it's scratched", but the bottom looks just fine. Dan, just how rare and desirable is this album anyway?

Clarke B., Friday, 3 January 2003 02:23 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

discs pressed by PDO around the time the skullflower CDs on freek/shock were released were manufactured with lacquer which corroded the thin aluminum layer - this is a fairly common problem with world serpent and hyperium releases from around the time, too. generally PDO has replaced the discs in question with new copies with the lacquer problem fixed, but i've heard that this isn't the case with the skullflower releases (some kind of grumbling about the masters being gone/lost due to a fight with jaworzyn?). more info here.

i have "ruins" on cd and it is indeed bronzing at the edges but it doesn't seem to affect the sound at the moment; first thing i did when i got the CD is make a CDR backup and rip a copy to my harddrive just to be on the safe side. as for "xaman" being rare, it's probably no more rare on CD than any of the other shock/freek releases, but there's obviously going to be some attrition over the years... i have "xaman" on vinyl, which lacks the bonus tracks, but at least it - hopefully - won't rot.

your null fame (yournullfame), Friday, 3 January 2003 04:53 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

and i forgot to mention that i finally heard ramleh - the recent compilation of singles and "homeless." basically they're somewhere between early skullflower and loop, mantric and repetitive but nowhere near as lacerating as the flower. worth checking out.

your null fame (yournullfame), Friday, 3 January 2003 07:05 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Hmm... perusing this older thread I can confirm that the college radio at which I toiled in the early 90's also had a copy of 'Xaman' with the oxidizing effect, or whatever it is.

Also my copy of the Blue Orchids 'View From the City' cd comp has had a similar effect (release date unknown ? - but definitely early 90's), and others with the cd have said the same. But thankfully it still plays well.

Also, this cracked me up:

(actually, all beatles records suck even though i've only heard one).

Terrific critical acumen there.

Mr. Diamond (diamond), Friday, 3 January 2003 09:13 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I got 'Xaman' burned and yes, there are clicks and whatnot in the last six minutes. if you can track down the Xaman LP then you can get the non-rotten version of the last track and it will all be OK (I have not done this but i know someone who has it).

I tracked down the ramleh singles comp and I had a merry Xmas with it. quite nice but not as good as skullflower at their best.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Friday, 3 January 2003 13:11 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

S: LAST SHOT AT HEAVEN, IIIRD GATEKEEPER
D: ARGON

Switch back and forth on: CARVED INTO ROSES

doug (doug), Friday, 3 January 2003 20:07 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

not too much to add here, but IIIrd Gatekeeper was my first skullflower disc and has served me well. For my gal, Skullflower is emblematic of the worst crapnoise I listen to on a minorly regular basis.

After one adventurous day I found myself with a post-it note from myself that read "dear nick, welcome to your spine." That sums up skullflower well for me.

nick ring (nick ring), Saturday, 4 January 2003 06:11 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

nick- so what's the best 'crapnoise'?

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 4 January 2003 15:25 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

two years pass...
Carved into Roses is a canonical noise album. You heard it here first.

~~~~ DODONGO DISLIKES SMOKE ~~~~ (ex machina), Sunday, 18 September 2005 23:53 (twelve years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...
I got me a copy of Form Destroyer today.

electro-acoustic lycanthrope (orion), Sunday, 18 June 2006 01:33 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Smuggo. I mean, well done.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 18 June 2006 01:52 (eleven years ago) Permalink

hey ny'ers...stoop/moving sale in williamsburg tomorrow at the girlfriend's house, 471 humboldt btw frost and richardson, near daddys. I've got 2 crates of records to sell/give away including some skullflower/ramleh related releases. Seriously, I've got a 90s UK hardcore type compilation I bought because it features a JFK track w/ Matthew Bower on it. Also, Ax, Ascension, etc.

(and plenty of non-skullflower)

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Sunday, 18 June 2006 03:52 (eleven years ago) Permalink

shit, man, i wish i could. if you've got a copy of nova feedback you'd be willing to part with...

GOD PUNCH TO HAWKWIND (yournullfame), Sunday, 18 June 2006 03:58 (eleven years ago) Permalink

yeah, I think that's one of them. all hold onto it if you want, email me.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Sunday, 18 June 2006 04:10 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I've got 2 crates of records to sell/give away including some skullflower/ramleh related releases.

GIMME

Q('.'Q) (eman), Sunday, 18 June 2006 17:37 (eleven years ago) Permalink

the stoop sale went to a)friends who stopped by, including b)eat records, and finally what didn't "move", c)academy records, where some CDs were left for Ian.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Monday, 19 June 2006 01:45 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Good on you, Ian. Form Destroyer is one of the greatest psych albums ever in my book, and the vinyl version is a lot better than what's on the Ruins CD. Stefan Jaworzyn left Skullflower 'cause he couldn't stand the low-fi mixes, but they suited the material better.

Someday I'll get around to writing that Skullflower discog overview...

Edward III (edward iii), Monday, 19 June 2006 13:16 (eleven years ago) Permalink

edward i wld v. much like to read that - GET TO IT!

what did ppl think of 'Orange Canyon Mind' - to my ears not that diff from recentish Sunroof stuff, and not as tasty as the hototogisu stuff w/ marcia b (i know el sabor will prob disagree!)

i wish Stefan was a prolific as Bower

Ward Fowler (Ward Fowler), Monday, 19 June 2006 13:50 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I wrote about them here:

http://www.villagevoice.com/music/0424,eddy1,54363,22.html

xhuxk (xheddy), Monday, 19 June 2006 14:09 (eleven years ago) Permalink

gd pic of bower (a redundant brit writes)

Ward Fowler (Ward Fowler), Monday, 19 June 2006 14:38 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Chuck, in never-failing-to-surprise-me non-shockah.

Edward III (edward iii), Monday, 19 June 2006 16:08 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i now have Argon

Q('.'Q) (eman), Monday, 19 June 2006 20:02 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Forgot to mention this invaluable source of Skullflower lore:
http://www.monotremata.com/skull/

Matt Bower and Robert Creeley, separated at birth?

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y176/edwardiii/BOWER.jpg

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y176/edwardiii/CREELEY.gif

Edward III (edward iii), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 12:07 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

So anyway, Crucial Blast reissued IIIrd Gatekeeper, and while I already had it, it's nice to hear/have rip open my head again. (Also the liner notes are invaluable for providing a detailed early history of the band, and imply that more reissues are due.)

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 22 November 2007 02:44 (nine years ago) Permalink

Amazing album.

W4LTER, Thursday, 22 November 2007 10:08 (nine years ago) Permalink

I'm rather fond of Obsidian Shaking Codex, myself. It hardly ever seems to get any mention, for some reason.

Michael Dudikoff presents Action Adventure Theatre, Thursday, 22 November 2007 15:15 (nine years ago) Permalink

it's XAMAN for me, total mind destruction. i hope they can rescue somebody's CD for reissuing purposes at some point.

i thought i commented earlier ITT about IIIrd gatekeeper being kind of an odd choice as a reissue as it's already relatively easy to find. and i also thought i expressed some vague hope stefan jaworzyn would stop being a cock and let them reissue the early stuff.

GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ, Thursday, 22 November 2007 16:06 (nine years ago) Permalink

Well, it's a good gateway drug of an album, I'd say. More focused, more conventionally RAWK, and given Crucial Blast's general approach, it suits them. So why not?

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 22 November 2007 16:20 (nine years ago) Permalink

hey, more skullflower is always better than less. i just hope it sells and they're able to do more. go, crucial blast, go.

GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ, Thursday, 22 November 2007 16:25 (nine years ago) Permalink

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Edward III for that Skullflower singles comp he posted a while back. Thanks!!!

sleeve, Thursday, 22 November 2007 16:27 (nine years ago) Permalink

Did I miss that? Is it still around?

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 22 November 2007 16:29 (nine years ago) Permalink

yeah was that on leonardo or something?

GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ, Thursday, 22 November 2007 16:31 (nine years ago) Permalink

"Almost every sales site/label/distro seems to be concentrating on vinyl. I don't get it. It's stupidly expensive to produce (and buy - especially considering international postage costs); there doesn't seem to be any way to break even on runs of 300 or less unless you sell most of 'em full price yourself; pressings are regularly horrible (coloured/gimmick vinyl etc is an abomination, 'super-heavy' vinyl a joke); 99% of vinyl is mastered from digital sources anyway so don’t give me that drivel about ‘analogue sound’...Oh, I could go on and on...

So the 12" series is going to lose me quite a lot. But if I sell a relatively small number of CDs I'll break even much faster, can put out another release sooner and I don't feel like a spaz having spunked over a grand on a record no one wants...AND CDs SOUND BETTER. Yes, I said it. CDs sound better. Oh, so you've got a mono UK original Piper at the Gates of Dawn, have you? Sold your kids to Estonian sex-traffickers for it, eh? How droll. Well I have it on CD and IT SOUNDS BETTER THAN THE VINYL. I mean it, man.

OK, here's another. Form Destroyer. The LP version is horrible. The cut was rubbish, the pressing was rubbish (the master tapes were fine). The new CD sounds better than any other version. No, your vinyl version is not much cooler, it’s simply unlistenable. (Xaman sounds fine on vinyl as it was mastered from the – wait, what, no – DIGITAL MASTER!)

What is this crap always polluting discogs: 'when's the vinyl coming out?' I’ll tell you when the vinyl’s coming out: 'Fuck right off time' is when the vinyl's coming out.

But no, let’s pay £20.00 for an LP, which probably doesn’t include a download (mp3s are digital smegma), so where do you get your ‘listening copy’? You pay ALMOST THE SAME PRICE AS A CD for some shitty flacs, or a quid less for the mpfucking3s. What, are we slobbering slack-jawed mongoloids? Why on bog’s green earth would anyone pay around a tenner for flacs? So they can make their own CD? Duh. Oh, flacs are just dandy if you’ve got a 250GB shitpad that plays them. And they’re so convenient to load onto your portable device, eh? Right, just kill me now."

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 5 September 2013 07:01 (four years ago) Permalink

I was going to post that here. Always an entertaining read.

Wandering Boy Poet, Thursday, 5 September 2013 12:38 (four years ago) Permalink

lol what is that from. Very funny.

One bad call from barely losing to (Alex in SF), Thursday, 5 September 2013 12:46 (four years ago) Permalink

appreciate a good rant but i did wince a bit at the spaz/mongoloid language

i'll be your mraz (NickB), Thursday, 5 September 2013 13:07 (four years ago) Permalink

It was a mailout from Stefan for people on his usual mailorder list or who bought the reissues from him.

Wandering Boy Poet, Friday, 6 September 2013 13:22 (four years ago) Permalink

Had a good chuckle at that - hope he re-starts the scum list again.

I suppose this is more releant to the thread:

(Oh yeah, speaking of Skullflower, I'm also sick of seeing people repeat the incorrect information about Skullflower being formed in 1987. It wasn't. It was formed in 1986 by Matthew, Stuart and me. Then Alex Binnie joined on bass, then Gary. In that order. You'd think the inclusion of tracks from '86 on the Birthdeath CD might make people 'think', but obviously not...So many errors, so few collective brain cells...)

xyzzzz__, Friday, 6 September 2013 19:56 (four years ago) Permalink

OK, here's another. Form Destroyer. The LP version is horrible. The cut was rubbish, the pressing was rubbish (the master tapes were fine). The new CD sounds better than any other version. No, your vinyl version is not much cooler, it’s simply unlistenable.

this man is insane

a hard dom is good to find (Edward III), Friday, 6 September 2013 20:23 (four years ago) Permalink

granted I haven't heard the new remasters yet, but calling the form destroyer LP horrible is demented

a hard dom is good to find (Edward III), Friday, 6 September 2013 20:25 (four years ago) Permalink

I was quite lose to pointing Stefan at this demented thread:

Music Into Noise: The Destructive Use Of Dynamic Range Compression

But you know, it all sounds good to me. CDs/LPs/mp3s. Maybe its all the years listening to 'noise'.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 6 September 2013 20:41 (four years ago) Permalink

blown dukes

am0n, Tuesday, 10 September 2013 20:40 (four years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Jaworzyn speaks!

http://thequietus.com/articles/13503-skullflower-stefan-jaworzyn-interview

Ned Raggett, Monday, 7 October 2013 18:25 (four years ago) Permalink

wow that photo

ṿῗᾄǤℝᾄ (am0n), Monday, 7 October 2013 19:14 (four years ago) Permalink

I CANNOT get over that photo, it's like a photo of the band one garage over from Husker Du and Soul Asylum circa 1981.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 7 October 2013 19:16 (four years ago) Permalink

haha pretty accurate

ṿῗᾄǤℝᾄ (am0n), Monday, 7 October 2013 19:22 (four years ago) Permalink

Thanks for pulling that out Ned - enjoyed that, apart from a few errors that should be edited out from the text.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 7 October 2013 19:33 (four years ago) Permalink

sure, the lack of photographic evidence of this lot spurs images of black-draped easter island goliaths, but seeing them as average late 80s stoner college students makes perfect sense, the guys in that picture were hanging out in every college radio breakroom in 1988

I'll have to post the skullflower interview I did w/ jaworzyn back in '90, it's been interesting to compare and contrast against the quietus piece

a hard dom is good to find (Edward III), Monday, 7 October 2013 21:45 (four years ago) Permalink

haha yeah i wouldn't guess that was a band from England

lorde willin' (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 7 October 2013 22:23 (four years ago) Permalink

Great interview.

What, me infallible? (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Tuesday, 8 October 2013 03:24 (four years ago) Permalink

skullflower interview from ugly american #6, 1990, sorry for all this long

Ugly American: Ed or Greg
Stefan Jaworzyn: last of the rare breed

UA: When and under what circumstances did the band first form?

SJ: Can't recall exact details -- it was either late '85 or early
'86. At first we were called Total (after a non-group of
myself and a photographer named Hugh; the two of us took
smack and groveled around on the floor making droning noises
with various electronic bits... I suspect this did not sound
very dramatic). We sort of appropriated the name. The first
rehearsal was Matthew, Stuart, and myself. Strangely enough,
this is also the current line-up.

UA: Was the absence of any info about the band on the record
covers a deliberate attempt to shroud Skullflower in mystery?
Or was it just cheaper to leave the names off?

SJ: The former, totally and utterly against any perspective I
would consider sensible. Let's not dwell on that...

UA: What's up with your fluctuating line-up? Does it cause
difficulties?

SJ: With the first line-up Matthew was too inept to play guitar
or bass properly and sing at the same time, so in came a
person named Binnie (now a tattooist and also on the new LP),
long-time associate of Matthew and who'd been in a band
called Pure (Matthew and Binnie, no music, lots of screaming
and background noise). Binnie played one-note bass for quite
a while. Gary Mundy from Ramleh (weedy contemporaries of
Whitehouse) somehow entered on guitar, so for some time it
was thus: Matthew, vocals and occasional bass or guitar bits;
Binnie, bass; Gary, guitar: Stuart, drums; me, guitar. This
was the line-up for a 12" we recorded but never released. One
of the tracks on the unreleased session has mutated into
"Wave", the 27-minute number on the new LP.

The fluctuating line-up has only caused difficulties if it's
been Stuart the drummer who failed to materialize - Matthew
has had to fill in on drums a couple of times (which actually
ended up pretty good -- results are on the CD, "Black Ass
Bone" and "Elephant's Graveyard"). We've had Steve Thrower
from Coil in on drums a couple of times. We've also had a
mutant called JFK on bass on the two above tracks. The stuff
he played was real good but he's not the kind of person you
really want to have to look at or converse with, so what the
fuh... I don't think there was ever any idea of a concrete
line-up as such and most of the time things have worked out
more than satisfactorily.

UA: Where, how, and on what do you record?

SJ: We record whenever, at a small studio in south London on
8-track. It was once a month for a while, but things as they
are it isn't anymore.

UA: Do you have a legion of fans?

SJ: Don't know about fans. If there are any they're thankfully
reasonably silent. There are a couple of worthless losers who
mouthed off that they were "friends" -- one of 'em is the UK
equivalent of McGonigal (actually even worse if truth be
told) and ought to be shot on sight. But fate always deals
these dickweeds a losing hand and will strike 'em down with
cancer pronto.

UA: Is appearing on the cover the New Music Express one of your
goals in life? Have you been ignored by the English press?

SJ: Don't be silly. What exactly constitutes the English music
press? If you mean the weeklies, then what difference does it
make if they ignore you anyway? We're not in this to hype
ourselves up so we can sign to a major label and consequently
spend all the time complaining about how shitty they are...

UA: Are you, Stefan, the main curley-q about which the
Skullflower members nebulate? Are you the main man? The
Svengali? Or is this a troop effort?

SJ: No. No. No. Sort of.

UA: What equipment is used during the average Skullflower
session?

SJ: Various shitty guitars and decaying amps. Borrowed drum kit.
Effects: Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, Memory Man, Graphic Fuzz,
and a creation called the Frequency Analyzer, which has been
distorted beyond belief by some freak who wired it up for
main supply and overloaded it so much it sounds like pure
hell. The guitar on "Slaves" on the new LP is going through
it. Other shit: Yamaha digital echo and sampler (v. cheap)
and Super Tone-Bender by (I think) Colour sound or something.
Gary uses the Ibanez distortion, one of the best. C/R what
else.

UA: Do you play live often? What are your shows like? Hypnotic or
cheesy?

SJ: Have only played live 2 1/2 times. Once with Gary, Matthew,
Stuart, and myself. We were called Total then still. Very
noisy. Once with only me and Matthew (the 1/2 time) and once
supporting losers AC Temple, with Matthew, Stuart, and myself
on "Slaves", then joined by Binnie for "Wave". Both were
long. The tape didn't come out. Typical.

UA: Do you suck blood? Are you in fact a vampire?

SJ: Haven't sucked on anything for simply ages, sweety pie.

UA: From what influences and chemicals does Skullflower derive
its go-power?

SJ: Musical influences are whatever you want them to be. Surely
you don't want me to drone on about what I/we listen to? We
all have totally different musical tastes anyway.

Used to take plenty of L at recording sessions. Much of the
first 12" and Form Destroyer was produced at all-nighters
under the influence of extremely bad acid we named White
Lightning. Much teeth-grinding and unhappiness generated by
it. Steve Thrower once freaked out completely on it while
listening to us produce a 10 minute noise track (as yet
unreleased). Recent sessions have been (for me at least)
drugless to a large extent and have taken place in daytime.

The acid is okay for recording but it fucks you up for mixing
properly. Haven't been able to take speed for fuckin' years
now and getting hold of smack A) involves dealing with the
world's worst subhumans and B) turns you into one when you
take it, which don't leave a lot of options.

UA: What are the band member's histories?

SJ: Matthew: Sulphur of Lions (supported the Biting Tongues a
couple of times, I believe), Pure. Former included Stuart,
latter included Binnie. Maybe something else but you don't
care. Me: couple of live gigs in Whitehouse and also
currently involved in the regenerated Whitehouse, probable US
tour in September. Gary: Ramleh, as I mentioned before. Also
in Breathless, who you might have heard of. Very big in
Italy. Oh. Binnie played on a Zos-kia single. Both Binnie and
myself played a live gig in Zos-kia (something I'm sure many
people would rather forget). We've all played in various
horrible groups that sort of formed our approaches. Generally
quite fun but nothing of "significance".

UA: Is Skullflower the next evolutionary step in music?

SJ: Yes. No.

UA: Are you a member of the Temple of Psychick Youth?

SJ: Are you serious? I wouldn't let my dork anywhere near that
lot.

UA: How much control do you have over what you are doing? Could
the band reproduce "Elephant's Graveyard" note-for-note? Or
do you concentrate more on tone and mood?

SJ: There's only a couple of numbers we've tried to reproduce.
Obviously it wouldn't be possible to reproduce anything
note-for-note. Everything we do is improvised to various
degrees. Usually a quick one-time run-through, then record
it. Only "Slaves" and "Wave" have been with us for a long
time. "Slaves" was actually performed by Pure many times. I'd
say it's almost entirely concentrating on mood and tone. It
is, however, an approach I find increasingly dissatisfying.

There comes a certain point when "notes" are called for and
if that's the case I want them in tune with the bass. The
wall of sound still works (you'll hear evidence of both these
paths on the new LP), but I think there's a danger of getting
stuck in a rut with recording that way all the time.

UA: Ever shot heroin with Sonic Boom?

SJ: Ever shot my wad in Sonic's bum? Pardon? What kind of a
sleazeball do you think I am?

UA: Do you people have jobs? Or do you live in the woods and eat
Jabberwockys?

SJ: Some do. I don't. Matthew now lives in the Lake District and
is having to do shit work to survive. Stuart works at a
screen printers. Can't remember exactly what Gary does,
civil service or the post office or something... I run a
fucking film festival and Shock Records, also edit Shock
Xpress mag, do some odd bits of writing, fuck knows what
else. Ain't had a proper job for some time, to be honest.

UA: Ever been to Stonehenge?

SJ: Once. It was horrible. I ate loads of hash and wandered
around amongst nude hippies until I freaked out and returned
to the truck we'd gone in. Hitched home the next day
completely stoned and got off on the wrong bit of motorway.
Never again (this was about '79).

UA: Do you see Skullflower making a trip to America?

SJ: Highly unlikely. Where's the fuckin' filthy clams?

UA: Will your records be released in the U.S.?

SJ: Released by whom? Some clown whose name I won't mention
(actually Ernie at Circuit) tried to get me to license the
7", the new LP, and CD to him for a price I wouldn't offer to
a wino in the street. I think stuff's getting over there
slowly on import. Xaman will be out sometime in September.
There's also a 7" out from Majora, who put out the Sun City
Girls' (one of my absolute favorite groups) last couple of
releases. Also looks fairly certain to be a Forced Exposure
single before too long. Both will obviously be reasonably
easily available in the U.S. There'll hopefully be a CD of
Xaman, too, with a couple of extra things. The LP has three
tracks on side one, one on side two. There's some stuff we
couldn't fit onto the album -- Majora have got one of those
tracks for their 7" -- and an old number we did at the very
first recording session which I got back from RRRecords who
didn't use it. It's one of our faves, so that'll be on the
CD.

UA: How many copies of the first EP, Form Destroyer, the 7", and
the CD were printed up? Will there be more printed for those
hopping on the bandwagon too late?

SJ: First EP: 500. Form Destroyer: approx. 600. "Bottomless Pit"
7": 500 plus a not-for-sale edition of 75. CD: 1,000, though
hopefully it will stay in print. I consider that to be the
definitive edition of Form Destroyer, which I hated the mix
of on vinyl. Likewise the last EP. The 7" will be available
on a CD compilation of the first five Shock singles, which'll
also have an extra track by each group. The new LP I guess
will be 1,000. The EP will hopefully remain out of print.
Fuck the Form Destroyer LP anyway. Matthew repressed 300 or
so of that, I think, so it's probably still available. There
was supposed to be an info sheet I prepared for that. Never
went in. Idiots requiring copies will only get them for two
IRCs.

UA: What are your plans for Shock?

SJ: Plenty. Maybe a new Strangulated Beatoffs 7". There's no
shortage of material. I'm going to do some recording with
Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus for a 7". A 7" from a new band
called Spasm, sort of a h/ c Hawkwind meets the Buttholes,
which'll be produced by Steve Stapleton (Nurse With Wound).
Possibly a new Current 93 7". I'd like to look further afield
to more avant-garde territory -- the Lol Coxhill LP is a step
in the direction I'd like to take, both for the label and the
shit I do myself. I'm supposed to do some gtr on the next
Nurse With Wound recording -- a 30 minute track of some sort.
Main problem is that producing avant-fuck noise means slow
sales means less records coming out. It's sort of frustrating
to be sitting on stuff you want to put out but haven't got
the money.

Shit I'd like to do (may, if all works out) is some
Borbetomagus junk on CD and a compilation of material by the
incredible Null/A.N.P. axis (monstrous Jap noise of the
highest calibre).

Anyway, what the fuck. Shock Xpress mag should mutate into
book form early next year. Every year I say I'll stop doing
the film festival but continue on... Things get out of hand
with what you want to do, what you should do, and what you
have to do... But fuck, everything essentially sucks anyway,
the world's a pit full of rancid horse piss and most people's
lives need to be terminated real soon... End of
transmission...

a hard dom is good to find (Edward III), Tuesday, 8 October 2013 19:54 (four years ago) Permalink

thanks for that!

money, chicken and other DNA (sleeve), Tuesday, 8 October 2013 20:42 (four years ago) Permalink

np

tl;dr fun fact: matt bower played drums on "elephant's graveyard"

a hard dom is good to find (Edward III), Tuesday, 8 October 2013 20:45 (four years ago) Permalink

I noticed that!

money, chicken and other DNA (sleeve), Tuesday, 8 October 2013 20:56 (four years ago) Permalink

We've also had a mutant called JFK on bass on the two above tracks. The stuff he played was real good but he's not the kind of person you really want to have to look at or converse with

jfk rfi

ṿῗᾄǤℝᾄ (am0n), Tuesday, 8 October 2013 21:18 (four years ago) Permalink

JFK was an alias of anthony difranco, he was the bassist on IIIrd gatekeeper

lot of shots fired in that interview lol

a hard dom is good to find (Edward III), Tuesday, 8 October 2013 22:11 (four years ago) Permalink

Thanks for pulling out the other interview.

He has a mixed relationship w/publicity. Wantng Skullflower as a group to be known a bit more, gain a visibility - at fanzine level, rather than getting to the mainstream music press - but then after splitting away not ever having a web presence at all, and he is fairly hostile to anything web (eBay etc.)

For a group that sounded quite improvised its surprising how far between their live appearances were. And its a bit of an untold tale how he got to acquire 'notes'. His work with Ascension etc isn't texturey at all. Look at Jason Pierce's attempts at imrpov by comparison. SJ really absorbed the free stuff he was listening to.

Shame that Borbetomagus comp never came to be. The Dead C comp issued on Shock is one of my favourites in a very underrated calatogue.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 8 October 2013 22:30 (four years ago) Permalink

lot of shots fired in that interview lol

Yeah, kinda fashionable at the time to take pops at Mike McG iirc, which always seemed like some bullshit to me.

gotta lol geir (NickB), Tuesday, 8 October 2013 22:35 (four years ago) Permalink

I never dug the Ascension stuff as much as Skullflower, but SJ did an awesome interview in Marc Master's Crank Automotive zine that was big reading for me in college. Same issue had an equally epic Richard Youngs interview.

dan selzer, Wednesday, 9 October 2013 04:17 (four years ago) Permalink

Stefan used to be a regular punter at the bookshop where I worked, and was always a really sociable dude (I'm not sure the humour behind a lot of his opinions comes across that well in these interviews.) One day he came in while I was playing 'Copy Shoot Cop' by Spiritualised. Stefan asked me what it was, and when I told him it was Spiritualised, he was REALLY disgusted (w/ me, w/ himself, w/humanity)

Ward Fowler, Wednesday, 9 October 2013 08:45 (four years ago) Permalink

Copy Shop Cop

gotta lol geir (NickB), Wednesday, 9 October 2013 08:47 (four years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

V good interview w/this guy in the wire. Repeats his hostility to vinyl.

Also pleased he had a not so favourable reaction to Funhouse.

Also lol @plans for a Derek Bailey solo alb to called One More Solo Album

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 9 February 2014 10:56 (three years ago) Permalink

Sad sad that never came out.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 9 February 2014 10:56 (three years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Playing tonight: http://www.cafeoto.co.uk/voice-and-guitar-beyond-tradition.shtm

xyzzzz__, Friday, 14 March 2014 12:31 (three years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

kvetch #1: o great reissuers of skullflower, you serve a worthy and honored purpose, but why o why do you place bonus tracks at the beginning? that must be some pretty righteous shit if you think I need to hear any of it before "elephant's graveyard".

actually…

j., Tuesday, 22 July 2014 20:45 (three years ago) Permalink

ten months pass...

Last Shot At Heaven! up at Bandcamp with bonus track
https://skullflower.bandcamp.com/album/last-shot-at-heaven

ringworm, Monday, 25 May 2015 10:16 (two years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

I don't think I've heard any Skullflower since 2008. Am I missing anything?

The Man Who Saw The Midwife (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Friday, 11 August 2017 11:56 (two months ago) Permalink

The KIno series of remasters?
I think I gave up on them after that . I think I have Argon somewhere and could never get into it.
Had the IIIrd Gatekeeper in its original cd form which I got in Dublin in the mid 90s and like muchly. Also really like Ramlegh's Homeless for some of the same reasons.
mauy prefer Loop for better groove.
BUt have got into the KIno volumes I bought recently. Mainly IV though.

Stevolende, Friday, 11 August 2017 18:40 (two months ago) Permalink

despite it's questionable title, Homeless features one of my favorite songs from either group...Fagenders.

dan selzer, Friday, 11 August 2017 20:21 (two months ago) Permalink

fwiw a fag end is a cigarette butt in the UK

Colonel Poo, Friday, 11 August 2017 21:24 (two months ago) Permalink

hah. I feel better about it now.

dan selzer, Friday, 11 August 2017 23:33 (two months ago) Permalink

not like Ramleh never toyed around with some questionable stuff of course.

dan selzer, Friday, 11 August 2017 23:33 (two months ago) Permalink

Ramleh's Circular Time 2cd from a few years back is well worth checking out... massive grooves, kinda noisy but earth-moving.

I actually just got all of the Kino CDs (I had Form Destroyer and Xaman on vinyl already but bonus traxx)! Was kind of wondering if he had gotten out of his uninteresting, headache-inducing black metal inspired phase 'cause I liked og Skullflower. I liked the weird, Krauty stuff he did in the later Sunroof! era and the first revival of Skullflower. I loved the weird, acoustic drone stuff he did for a while. But that shrieky shit makes me check out fast.

The Man Who Saw The Midwife (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Saturday, 12 August 2017 03:32 (two months ago) Permalink

https://skullflower.bandcamp.com/

👁 (am0n), Tuesday, 15 August 2017 15:02 (two months ago) Permalink

I was hoping someone else had already spent weeks trawling through the Bandcamp but anyway

http://skullflower.bandcamp.com/album/the-wisdom-of-venom

Pretty listenable excepting some moments of high pitched feedback, but the last song is really cool... twisty organ loop into some epic guitar fuzz arching into the blastosphere. Kinda Sunroof! or Total vibes.

The Man Who Saw The Midwife (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Sunday, 20 August 2017 08:46 (one month ago) Permalink

oh cool, sunroof! still one of my all time favorites even though i haven't kept up

the late great, Sunday, 20 August 2017 17:28 (one month ago) Permalink

though imo his peak is youngsbower

the late great, Sunday, 20 August 2017 17:29 (one month ago) Permalink

Yeah Youngsbower was amazing. Sigh. Why no Youngsbower 2?

The Man Who Saw The Midwife (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Sunday, 20 August 2017 23:52 (one month ago) Permalink

That period where like Boredoms VCN and Super AE vibes and also Krautronic burbling melodies were influencing Bower was primo

The Man Who Saw The Midwife (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Sunday, 20 August 2017 23:52 (one month ago) Permalink

I was hoping someone else had already spent weeks trawling through the Bandcamp but anyway
― The Man Who Saw The Midwife (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Sunday, August 20, 2017 4:46 AM

haha it is a lot to go thru. no tinkling synths yet but the more recent stuff under the "yllustrous forger of dreams" moniker is reaching back to the calm era. will prob buy the newest one - https://skullflower.bandcamp.com/album/the-108
https://skullflower.bandcamp.com/track/burning-swamp-of-pitch

this one is also nice owing to the psaltery playing - https://skullflower.bandcamp.com/track/melek-taus

also:

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a3931828151_10.jpg

👁 (am0n), Sunday, 3 September 2017 23:07 (one month ago) Permalink

Thanks! "Dove Grey Lagoons" on the 108 is great!

Wichita prepares for totality (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Monday, 4 September 2017 06:38 (one month ago) Permalink


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