There isn’t a squandered note in Skeleton Flower’s kaleidoscopic self-titled debut. Singer Haruko Crow Nishimura’s exuberance spills as her bandmates excel in sharp turns and busy chorale exclamations. Sewn from similar, asymmetric fabric of Deerhoof, vocal stitching of Bjork and Joanna Newsom’s child-like incantations, Nishimura and writing partner/guitarist Joshua Kohl, collect from a wild stock of supernova-like vision.
Pulling in years of work under the compelling multimedia experience, Degenerate Art Ensemble, Nishimura and Kohl exceed moving from stage into an art pop explosion. The visual constructs are snug musical sculptures shaped and formed by Nishimura’s malleable lyrical and vocal contributions, Kohl’s wiry guitar, the construction-like rhythm section of drummer Adam Koze and bassist Scott Teske’s thick imprints, and spray painting saxophone/bass clarinet of Ambrose Nortness. This collective flexes how synonymous performance art intertwines musical ideas.
The motorized and sweater warm “It’s Over” welcomes a dual approach to hearing/ listening to Skeleton Flower. Many ideas spawn over the brief 30 minutes, but freedom, growth, and overcoming insurmountable obstacles are sharpest. Follow up “My Double” has two unique approaches; one strikes with an adolescent impatience, the other, as an adult pausing for beauty to unfold. Nishimura’s chorus holds hands with Joanna Newsom’s quirkiness while avoiding the pitfalls of spiraling too deep on the rabbit trail.
The bargain of this debut is found in the sneaky hushed approaches. “Fitcher’s Bird” harvests a varying flow of dynamics and surprising quickness of foot. “Could It Be” carries Nortness’ persistent saxophone blowing down flimsy structures, while Koze marches steady on snare as Nishimura’s flashes Saturday morning cartoon catchiness through an epic saga.
Easily the most volatile of these seven songs, “The Red Shoes”, explores the depth and reach of Skeleton Flower’s prowess. The anxiety-inducing piano, acidic splattering of vocals, and cardio drumming land somewhere left of Deerhoof and right of Bjork. Album closer, the otherworldly “Mirrored Sky”, grows from a looped vocal chant and gentle electronic drumming as it holds space with previous songs, acting as a snow globe – white flecks dropping continuously, until the final speck lands.
Skeleton Flower is a testament of brevity quilted from dazzling creativity and personal authority. Its best parts are confident strides toward the fringe and shadows. The long-standing duo of Nishimura and Kohl reflect brightest as they dare to continue to explore.
(Check out “My Double” from the album via YouTube and get more info about Skeleton Flowers HERE.)