Turtle Skull and the Musical Magic of some Sydney Stoners
“The mission statement [of Turtle Skull] is to create music that allows people to go on transcendental journeys. Psychedelic, spiritual journeys either internally or externally. I wanna make music that’s more than just a three-minute pop song or an hour-long drone jam I wanna make music that facilitates spiritual growth.”- Dean, Vox/Guitar
They say metal comes from the devil himself but there’s something truly extraterrestrial or interdimensional about this subgenre, whatever you want to call it.
The music meddles with our minds, warping perception of time and releasing odd endorphins. With the proper soundtrack, a wall can become a painting and a room can become a galaxy.
Psychedelic music has similar effects. Bands like Pink Floyd, the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the more recent King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard use sound to world build and show vivid imagery like invisible animation.
So, what do you get crossing these sensational sounds with sensory colours? What forms in the cauldron of a dreary wizards wish? Well, you get what Sydney sludgers; Turtle Skull have dubbed “Flower Doom.”
“It’s partly meant to be an accurate description but it’s partly a joke as well,” says vocalist and guitarist Dean, dubbing the genre as a gag drawn from inspiration of sixties Flower Pop and heavy stoner stuff alike. He thought the idea to “subvert the usually toxic masculinity of heavy music and have a funny side genre called Flower Doom” was a silly something to snicker at but I don’t see the humour, rather Flower Doom serves an accurate analogy of an independently formed sound. Of course, parallels can be drawn but I believe Turtle Skull has one of the most unique sounds I’ve heard in a local act.
Flower Doom. The very name brings to mind an aged bohemian, a bearded shaman with a sense of modernism, rejecting it just as much as he embraces it. Willing to bloom in the light of society or through the mud piled on by it. Flower Doom is where Hippy meets Hipsters.
I first came across this band on a Thursday night in January as they opened for Desert rock influentials, Yawning Man. Instantly they blew me away, so much so my gig buddy (the very person who invited me to see the band) turned to me halfway through the headliner and muttered: “Hey, these guys kinda suck do you wanna go?” OF COURSE, THEY SUCKED, how could they follow what we just heard, nay, experienced? I spent forty bucks to see an opening band and you know what? I’m not even mad.
Turtle Skull was truly special. Every note, beat or chord calculated, timely and precise yet free-flowing as prayer to a priest.
I went to the middle of the floor, initially to mosh but instead, I just stood there.
The sound and lights of The Vanguard circled me to great effect added to Turtle Skull’s musicianship the experience was transfixing. Percussionist and timing master, Tobia personified the vibe, the way he looped a tambourine was transcending.
Listening to Turtle Skull at home is equally satisfying.
Having released a self-titled, half-hour album in 2018 the release feels both double and half its length. Familiarly alien, calming yet awakening. The listen exists in a spiritual space deep within us all that the band unlocks with apparent ease.
Droning drawn-out guitars,
Sharp firecracker cackling drums.
Track two, ‘Take it or leave it’ carries itself in repetitive rhythm but grows with a synth-like spring breeze. “I think repetition is something important for the brain,
that’s why you get so many people that take transcendental experiences from Electronica, EDM and House,” Dean affirms, “It is a magical, mystical experience to connect with a piece of music that you resonate so strongly with… I realised that I would really like to provide that experience for other people.”
Turtle Skull’s new track, Rabbit highlights the appeal of this act. While capturing the free-flowing mindfulness of traditional stoner type metal there’s a refined appeal to their songwriting. As I told Dean, I couldn’t hum you a Wo Fat song, couldn’t whistle to Truckfighters tune… but I’ve been singing Rabbit all day.
It's catchy and only four minutes in length. Making it a lot more commercial than most in surrounding genres. “that’s one of the things we try to do, focus on the song and not just a loud guitar or a twenty-minute psych jam.”
“All music is sacred. we always try to keep that concept of song. The strong melody, the accompanying chords, a lot of that I learned from the drummer, Charlie. That’s another thing I found was missing from a lot of these long-form psychedelic bands…they don’t always focus on songwriting… which is why I take it quite seriously in this band ”
Though a catchy and well-written song, Rabbit doesn’t waste its breath. As Dean describes it,
“It’s written about the really bad standards of Australia when it comes to fulfilling its obligations to refugees and the immoral, sometimes illegal activities of the Australian government with vulnerable people who deserve more respect than we give them”
The band has demonstrated a level of spiritual and social awareness which with their refined talents has translated unhindered into an understandable artistic expression.
I implore you, the reader, (yes even if you’re in the band yourself) to go listen to the few tracks Turtle Skull have available whether you are familiar with the music of this mould or not. This is as multiplex as easy listening gets.
”I feel like if people considered alternatives to their reality that we could start to make a better world.” - Dean, Turtle Skull
Stream Rabbit now
https://youtu.be/BWJcRXo8h_s?t=1321 listen to the interview audio and more here