Deluxe triple-pack CD that restores two classic Skullflower albums to print, with a bonus disc of contemporaneous singles. Recorded together and originally conceived as a double CD back in the dark ages of 1995, "Carved Into Roses" and "Infinityland" find the band making a transition from the "heavy" riffs of their early days to a more free-form sound that continues to this day to drive leader Matthew Bower's many guises (Skullflower, Sunroof!, Hototogisu, Mirag, etc). Sporting a revamped lineup of Bower, Stuart Dennison, Russell Smith, and Phillip Best, the band whacks away at both styles simultaneously, with lumbering hooks meeting rainbows of coruscating feedback. Both records start with lengthy two chord modal jams, anchored by the guest organ of Simon Wickham-Smith (he appears on most tracks on both CD's). "Pipe Dream" and "The Idiotsburgh Address" sport structures that wouldn't have been out of place on a 1960's Pharoah Sanders album, but with the spiraling sound of Bower and Smith's (of UK scuzz legend Terminal Cheesecake) guitars tearing up the sound bed. Smith's replacement of Anthony "Ax" DiFranco in the band's lineup is a key element in the sound, with the two guitar/no bass configuration sounding at times like a UK version of the Dead C. "White Fang's" slashing riff and Michael Morley style vocal (by Best) are a tip of the hat to the New Zealand band's key works (which basically came out at the same time as these records). Elsewhere, there's the "classic" drone and low end menace of tracks like "Abraxas" and "Blood Orange," the galloping drum signature on "Metallurgical King" and the live mayhem midway thru Carved that makes it clear that this was a real working outfit that laid down a distinct statement of purpose and identity on these two records.
The Singles disc collects both sides (over 50 minutes) of the 4 7" records that were released around the same time and made largely by the same lineup. Not exactly a "singles band," SF nevertheless has made more than a dozen of the format over the years. The alternate take on "White Fang" is even more jagged and crackling than the LP take. "Choady Foster" and "Spent Force" are huge pools of sound. Among these more straightforward tunes are oddities like the live version of "Metallurgical King," and the two sides of the "Village Sorting" single, a studio recording featuring Tim Hodgkinson (Henry Cow, the Work) blowing the roof of the place on alto.
The 3 discs are housed in an amazing tri-fold heavy art paper folio printed by Stumptown Printers.