Sunroof!
Silver Bear Mist
VHF
2005
B



matthew Bower is a man of many trades—his projects range from being a major contributor to Skullflower, Hototogisu, Total, and an irregular member of Vibracathedral Orchestra—but his primary concern has always been Sunroof! The group has always included Bower and whoever happened to be playing with him at that moment. This time, Mick Flower and the Skaters are included in the fold. For the better part of a decade he has been honing his style of erratic, feedback-sodden power drone. Over the many releases, he has shifted his technique and style a bit—most dramatically on the 2003 electronic Krautrock LP Cloudz—but his emphasis has always been on billowing storms of electricity, fuzz, and noise.

Silver Bear Mist, though in the classic Sunroof! style, is a different beast altogether. It is a monstrous entity of an album, something that you get swallowed up in. As a two disc set, Silver Bear Mist is the most expansive thing Sunroof! has ever done with over 140 minutes of music. It captures their style in classic form, reverting back to their raw, untamed free-rock approach that was more restrained and eschewed on Cloudz.

The first disc begins with shorter, concise excerpts of Sunroof!’s trance-inducing noise that fits dozens of distorted fragments, whirs, and bleeps into an amalgam that can’t quite be referred to as a “song,” but with Bower that’s never been the point. Near the beginning of the album, Sunroof! channel their droning feedback through studio production techniques that include panning and layering. To my ears, this is when Sunroof! is heard best: when you can discern the sounds, and the whole disorganized, intentionally gnarled mess of music starts to approach organization. Disc two is the opposite, as the tracks have a live recording feel where each individual contribution and instrument is swallowed by the totality of the sound.

Despite either of the two methods are exhibited, album’s strongest asset is that the sounds that reach your speakers are utterly unidentifiable—Bower and Co. could be playing anything from synthesizers, effect-mangled guitars, laptop DSP filters, or circuit bent keyboards. It’s most likely a mixture of all the things listed above—and many that are not—but in this approach Sunroof! equate both high and low technology, culture, and art. Regardless of origins, a wide variety of instruments find their way into Silver Bear Mist’s kaleidoscopic sound, as Bower utilizes a trite instrument like the guitar to express himself very differently than most who pick up the instrument.

Subsequently, Silver Bear Mist sounds quite unlike anything else, as this album affirms Sunroof!’s stance while adding a very convincing testament to their discography. This record is a bold, refreshing statement, but more than anything it still proves how singular a voice Sunroof! really is in the avant/noise/drone community.


Reviewed by: Ryan Potts
Reviewed on: 2005-10-31
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