Mary Pearson of High Places, the longest enduring of my contemporary hipster girl crushes, has a blog which serves to present her satorial taste. The blog is very refined, of Catalog-esque quality but definitely not a lazy and miserly version of an online shop since no signs of commerce are seen there – no links, no PR. It looks sorta a medium to unchain and embody her sassy Chloe Sevigny side. And in the skewed world of mine, she can even beat Chloe at winning my affection. Not so surprisingly, she’s well-heeled (pun intended) judging from the above picture and the new and clean designer brand-looking clothes filling her blog.
“Ashtray Navigations is Phil Todd and guest cohorts. He’s from round these parts (West Yorkshire) and is rapidly becoming synonymous with brilliantly epic, sludgy soundscapes & vast psychedelic noise sculpting. This catchily titled CD on his own DIY imprint is as caustic as the furthest reaches of the Astral Social Club or the ricocheting sonic feedback overload of Skullflower. Quite how he manages to layer this filthy, ascending distortion with such absorbing detail i’ll never know yet the first number relentlessly evolves into a shitstorm of feedback whilst a lunatic UFO comes in half way attempting to suck the sonic cloud up, churning madly in its frantic determination! Sympathetic is the key and my ears are treated to some excellent analogue Komische action that has raw feedback tendrils trailing from its old-skool underbelly. 6 tracks in all, showcasing a rough, rugged & tantalising imagination from this region.” from Norman records
Back in the day I used to read Phil Todd’s blog on myspace where I could be clued in on an outer-square cultural linchpin like Sweet Movie, a film by Dušan Makavejev. His considerable knowledge and understanding of various counterculture ephemera is soundly reflected in his musical pursuit. This album was compiled from some of his previous materials released in 2006 and 2008 and its exemplifying barrage of outre psych-o-ramas must be a sure shot to launch the first timers into the entrancing orbits of Ashtray Navigations.
I tend to be appalled by those still “in” 80’s-mirroring indie hipster music videos, and the above is in a similar vein if not processed for particular purposes; However, I find nothing to frown on in it … it just acts as a stiffenin’ good hypnagogic aphrodisiac… above all, camera works are so delicate and giddily artful.
“There Are few releases that I am more proud of than this one, the stellar Skullflower
album “Last Shot At Heaven”. This was the first US Skullflower full length CD
(discounting reissues) and according to many Skullflower fans, their best album. I tend to
agree. I remember very clearly the first time I heard this album, I was pulled in a trance as
my ears were swept away by walls of feedbacking guitars. This album is amazing, plain and simple. ” from the label.
Despite having long since broken out of the mold, Skullflower has always possessed and spontaneously exhibited the momentum of Rock music; There are unchanging viscerality and physicality in their music that pounce and gorge on the listener’s psyche imbueing her whole body with a viperous bracer. And the Guitar. Skullflower is the equivalent of a forsaken berserker wielding a guitar with all his might and gusto instead of a sword compared to those dour knob-twiddlers and fingertipping monitor-gazers however kindred to eMego-ers and other noise/drone stalwarts Skullflower is in terms of the sonic palette. For all the noises and drones they have been honing, they’re born to rock.
Last Shot At Heaven, where the familiar mode of Rock has not been declouded and heavily deformed yet, greatly manifests the above described nature and orientation of Skullflower. The nearly unceasing cocky wah-wahs and distortional caterwaulings leading the album will cater to many of the fans of those obstinate, ragged modernists’ blasphemous take on blues; Often, this iteration of Skullflower recalled to me Bardo Pond, and even 90’s prominent blues-punkers Railroad Jerk though for a brief moment. And in this album, there certainly are some archetypal musical ideas that Ausie psych rockers Grey Daturas might have picked up and pushed to the broader, more lysergic realm.
Cop a load of a young Mr. Bower on the album cover. How cool !