outpourings of fried mind: scott mckeating on sunroof!

August 17, 2014 at 9:58 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Sunroof! – Rock Power (vinyl LP, Nashazphone, np-13, edition of 500)

sunroof! - rock power

(Editor’s note: emerging from his undersea lair for just long enough to hand me a brass tube containing the manuscript of the below, Scott McKeating – RFM’s mysterious third voice – returns to an old obsession.  Over to Scott…)

Having been lost in a wilderness of real life, I’d like to offer up a long overdue rumination on a recentish rerelease of Sunroof!’s Rock Power.  Originally a European tour CD-r from way back in 2003 via the Rural Electrification Program label, it is now available on the inconvenient as fuck format known as vinyl.  Egyptian label Nashazphone have provided the opportunity to support Sunroof! (in)directly rather than tussle with the ebay/discogs crowd.

Those that can recall the distant past of RFM will perhaps remember my devotee status at the altar of all things Bower and Sunroof! has always been one of his more eclectic variations. Sometimes studio solo, other times bolstered by ‘members’ like Neil Campbell (more of whom later) or Jazzfinger’s Has Gaylani and Ben Jones, this has often been the project that the man turns to when he’s of a mind to use a (relatively) brighter palette.

These seven untitled live tracks, in collaboration with Vibracathedral Orchestra’s Mick Flower and using loopage supplied pre-tour by Neil Campbell, feature far less emphasis on the blackened, crushing, coruscating whiteout of senses familiar from his other work but they still surprise – perhaps even subverting the usual template for a Sunroof! record.

It begins with a basic rock riff, something from a lo-fi garage jam, but there’s Bower filigree around it. Feedback like Martian vines snake in, around and through the (again: relatively) comprehensible sound of electric guitar.  Imagine an elastic fingered Crazy Horse with Young’s solos played through a live socket dowsed in blade-sharp bleach, piss and vinegar. With Flower on guitar, Bower is (we presume) assaulting his own set of strings, along with masking taped keys and various pedals, tempering them into a feedback assault. The programmed patterns and more familiar electronic drones throughout have been identified by Neil Campbell as featuring some of his own loopy contributions.

‘2’ leaps back into more familiar Sunroof! territory, concentrating on the flutter-by bleeps and squelching E-rushes that open out in other weirder, wider melodic arteries. Train rhythms cast from the outpourings of fried mind synths provide grounding for the track, whilst around it wrangled knots of guitar are lassoed and channelled into rivulets of burbling notes and soft battery splutters. While Rock Power has plenty of evolving/revolving tripped sounds and fried guitar moments, it can still throw an oddball. There’s the glam break beat riff of ‘5’ giving the record the feel of gnarly stasis stomper, locked in a dusty record groove. Or the shiny VU chime of guitars on ‘6’ that are cut into ribbons by the high frequency furious scratch of metal filaments.

So, this is a Sunroof! record that features sounds that are as close to ‘rock music’ as any used by Bower before.  Don’t fret though: under the muscled, cyclical riffs the album’s guts are still churning noise and intestinal loops.



(Editor’s final note: what’s that popping noise?  My beautiful Turkish manservant appears to be opening a bottle of champagne!  What’s the occasion?  Radio Free Midwich’s 400th post?!  Well, I never!  Chin, chin!)

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