this review originally appeared in Thaumaturgy, a blog dedicated to new experimental and psychedelic music
April 28, 2005
The final track on USSA is entitled "Rainbow Mush," a phrase which may be the perfect encapsulation of the Sunroof! aesthetic: on this release Matthew Bower has once again taken the candy-colored trappings of pop (big chords, bright sounds, peppy beats) and pushed them far beyond their normal structures, breaking them down almost beyond recognition, disintegrating them into sludge, creating a pop music for the time when the universe collapses back into an infinitely dense singularity.
"Warm Panic 1 & 2" perhaps serves as a good example of the Sunroof! interrogation of musical forms: after four or five minutes of whirling sonic turbulence, a pattern begins to emerge, a cyclically recurring whinea riff. A strange, alien, minimalist riff, but a riff nonetheless. This sound then proceeds to repeat with mantric obsessiveness, pushing the very concept of what a riff does to its logical extreme in a way reminiscent of the Stone Age doggedness of an act like Faust. (Bower may have acknowledged his debt to Krautrock acts with the first Sunroof! release, Delicate Autobahn Under Construction, which uses its title to invoke that specifically German sense of endless smooth propulsion.)
The other influence I hear on this album is Robert Fripp, particularly Fripp's work with Brian Eno. In those collaborations, Eno takes Fripp's guitar and replicates it to the point where it opens up, lotus-like, to reveal a seemingly infinite hall-of-mirrors environment inside: many of the pieces here on USSA, equally dazzling, could function as heir to those experiments. Especially notable in this regard is the twenty-minute "Baltimore Starry Night," which sounds like the work of an acid-damaged Glam child attempting to replicate the entirety of No Pussyfooting in a dank garage.
Although Cloudz may ultimately work as a more polished and complete realization of the Sunroof! "sound", USSA is a disc that no fan of ecstatic guitar will want to miss.
On the always-reliable VHF.