Matthew Bower  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Matthew Bower is a British musician, active since the early 1980s, with a vast collection of collaborative and solo work behind him.



Skullflower were formed when Bower hooked up with Stefan Jaworzyn and Stuart Dennison around 1982. Unlike most of their immediate contemporaries in the London-based industrial underground, they used traditional rock instruments such as guitars and drums rather than tapes, synths etc. The line-up could be fluid, with members of contemporaries such as Whitehouse, Coil and Ramleh contributing. The group are often cited as having been a strong influence on Justin Broadrick of Godflesh and, indeed, Broadrick later released two Skullflower albums on his HeadDirt label. Jaworzyn left the band with bassist Anthony DiFranco and guitarist Russell Smith (formerly of Terminal Cheesecake) joining. The unit moved further and further away from any recognisable rock genre with albums such as Obsidian Shaking Codex and Transformer showcasing a free-flowing, rootless brand of drone music, often adding reeds and strings, mostly played by John Godbert. The line-up also became less fixed again, with DiFranco leaving. Skullflower was put on hold around 1997 with Bower pursuing other activities.


Bower released around a dozen full-length titles under the name Total, mostly between 1993 and 2000, on labels such as Majora, VHF, American Tapes (run by John Olson of Wolf Eyes), Self Abuse and Freek as well as appearing on Virgin‘s archetypal Isolationism compilation. Initially a less rock-based and often musically calmer counterpart to Skullflower’s harsher work, the roles slowly reversed, reaching a peak with the noisy Merzbow Mixed Total cassette being released around the same time as the mostly gentle, fluid "This Is Skullflower" CD. Bower dropped the name around the same time as US R&B group of the same name appeared, although Bower has never confirmed a connection between these events.

Other projects

With Skullflower officially resting and Total retired, Bower began a more inclusive project called Sunroof! which, on occasion, could feature Richard Youngs, Neil Campbell, John Godbert, Phil Todd and other friends. More melodic and keyboard based than his previous work, albums were issued on VHF, Giardia and his own Rural Electrification Project label. In addition, he also guested with Vibracathedral Orchestra on a number of occasions and has issued 2 albums with Richard Youngs. More recently he has been found in Hototogisu, initially a fresh solo project, later expanded to a permanent duo of himself and Marcia Bassett of Double Leopards, touring and releasing as extensively as ever. Skullflower was also resurrected, with Bower enlisting people like Mark Burns, Neil Campbell, Michael Flower and Colin Potter (of Nurse With Wound) for new material. Although he recorded the most recent Skullflower title, Tribulation, alone, recent live commitments have been fulfilled by a duo of Bower and Lee Stokoe (who records solo as Culver). He has also begun a new project Mirag, with an EP issued on Campbell Kneale's Battlecruiser label and a full-length release on Rural Electrification Project. Bower’s huge discography of visceral, free drone-rock is one of the most formidable of its kind and he was considered in 2005 by The Wire to be one of the "map co-ordinates for much of what passed for a post-punk UK underground during most of the 80s and 90s" (issue 259).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Matthew Bower" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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