Skullflower return with the evocatively titled vinyl LP The Black Iron That Fell From The Sky, To Dwell Within (Bear It or Be It). Since the 1980s Matthew Bower and assorted collaborators have been making pitch-black drone, noise, industrial and metal hybrids that defy classification. With this release on Nashazphone they’re once again leading the way.
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I’m not sure if I’ve been devouring ‘The Black Iron That Fell From The Sky, To Dwell Within (Bear It or Be It)’ or whether it has been devouring me. Since I received my copy, it has taken up permanent residence on my turntable. That is until the second volume is unleashed - as this is the first in a planned trilogy for Egypt’s Nashazphone label.
My adoration for Skullflower and the various incarnations is well documented on these pages, therefore I become conscious of repeating myself. I feel like every time I write about a new release I say something along the lines of “they’re at the peak of their creative powers”. With every new release it certainly seems that way - it’s logical - if you’re not getting better at what you do, taking into account a staggering discography - then what’s the fucking point? And they do get better… and better.
Skullflower tracks appear as perfectly formed visions, then often end abruptly which makes them then feel somehow unresolved - then onto the next track - they are constantly exploring, searching, digging deeper, looking further into the abyss.
This album, along with recent work released via BandCamp and Cold Spring has a refined, attention to detail that has them occupy a singular position beyond “noise”, beyond drone, beyond any conventional or avant-garde devotional music - terms like idiosyncratic and inimitable get thrown about a lot - but this is a sound they truly own.
Opening track ‘Blue Lidded Daughter Of Sunset’ is densely layered, with a luxuriously tranquil pace. Over stirring, droning synth, Samantha Davis’ violin swirls like blinding rays of sunshine which seemingly melt into Matthew Bower’s strings like the Burroughsian concept of “Shlupping” where two beings merge and dissolve into one another during sex. You know, like The Spice Girls notion of “Where Two Become One”.
The use of the Pro-One synthesizer on ‘Feral Alchemy’ is like prisms of ice or crystal falling from the skies, refracting dazzling light and melting in fires on earth - then evaporating in a cycle of opposing forces - hot/ cold, ice/fire.
The apocalyptic ‘The God Who Licks Up The Blood Dew'd Kalas From The Altar Of Set’ comprises the entire second side of the LP and conjures images of wolves and big cats as the last living creatures on earth. Their cries howling through moonlit desert skies and scorched jungles - relaying an overwhelming sense of hope, even after mass destruction.
Another jewel in an already glistening crown. And that fucking cover!
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