Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard

I’ve been a fan of Nick Cave and his various projects for a couple of years now, but I’ve only been listening to his first band, The Birthday Party (aka the Boys Next Door), for the past year. While it’s not an easy band to get into, I’ve come to realize that the band is brilliant on many levels. While the band is often known for Cave’s id ego sprouting off whatever troubles his mind, behind that is a mixture of noisey washed out guitar that at times is so ugly, it is actually quite beautiful. The man behind these noises id the late great Rowland S Howard.

Release the Bats – The Birthday Party

Howard was instrumental in the band, contributing to the soundtrack of madness that defined the band until it broke up due to exhaustion (drug-related and personality-related). Afterwards, Cave and Mick Harvey went on to create Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds while Howard joined a couple of bands and made numerous collaborations. It wasn’t until 1999 (16 years after the dissolution of the Birthday Party) that Rowland went solo. His first solo record, Teenage Snuff Film, is a masterpiece. It showcases not only his ability to create soundscrapes out of chaos, but he can also rival Cave lyrically.

Dead Radio – Rowland S Howard

Sleep Alone – Rowland S Howard

Howard released a second solo album, Pop Crimes, in 2009. I have yet to hear it, but the word on the street is that Howard was just getting started on something. However, he tragically died of liver cancer in December 2009 and never had a chance to continue his work. He was only 50, but he left a legacy that influenced the greatness of many others. This is topic of the newly released Australian documentary, Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard.

The film includes interviews with Nick Cave, Henry Rollins, longtime Howard collaborator Lydia Lynch, Thurston Moore (the tool from Sonic Youth who signed Jemina Pearl and says he hate the Rolling Stones) and the great Bobby Gillespie, along with old interviews of Howard himself. It looks like a bit of tear-jerker at points, but I wouldn’t know because they haven’t announced a US release date yet. If I have any Australian readers who want to atone for some past crimes they’ve commited (cause let’s face it, that place was founded as a convict colony, which is pretty fucking cool if you really think about it), you could probably get some good karma by sending me a copy of this film. From all I’ve heard, it’s supposed to be one of the best music documentaries made in years. Until then, check out more of Rowland S Howard’s work. I’ve only just started, but it doesn’t look like you can go wrong with too much that he’s done.

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