Sunroof! was the new-millennium guise of U.K. guitarist Matthew Bower, a longtime veteran of the experimental noise-rock scene. Bower had begun his career with a short-lived band called Pure, which mutated into Total in 1982; five years later, Total transformed into the prolific Skullflower, which proved the best-known of Bower's vehicles. Skullflower turned Total into a largely solo side project with a free-improvisation bent, which eventually became Bower's main focus. The Puff Daddy-affiliated R&B group Total laid exclusive claim to the moniker in the late ‘90s, at which point Bower retired it and continued on -- in much the same style -- under the new name Sunroof!. Sunroof! kept much of the monolithic, droning noise for which Skullflower was known -- informed principally by psychedelia and early industrial music -- but also followed the more ambient, free-form direction of early-'90s Total and late Skullflower. With Sunroof!, Bower also seemed to make more conscious attempts at sonic diversity, varying the moods of his lengthy pieces and incorporating hints of British folk and ethnic music while upping the vintage electronics and found sounds.
Sunroof! started performing circa 1997, not long after the official retirement of Skullflower; like Total, it was essentially Bower plus whatever associates were available to guest. The band made its recorded debut with 2000's double-CD Delicate Autobahns Under Construction, a trio release for VHF that featured two of Bower's Total/Skullflower cohorts: reed player John Godbert and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Neil Campbell (also of Vibracathedral Orchestra). Found Star Sound followed later that year, having been recorded mostly at the formerly London-based Bower's home in Cumbria, a rainy, rural area in northwestern England. Its pastoral, home-recorded feel and hints of acid-damaged folk drew comparisons to post-rockers Flying Saucer Attack. A vinyl-only set called Sad Frog Wind appeared on Giardia in early 2001, consisting of two side-long pieces.
Issued later that year by VHF, the more prominent Bliss was another double-CD set with a supporting cast that included Campbell, Rosalie Bower, guitarist Richard Youngs (another Total/Skullflower contributor with extensive credits of his own), and the members of Newcastle avant-noisemakers Jazzfinger. Sunroof! also appeared on the VHF live compilation Freak On!, which included additional tracks from cohorts Richard Youngs and the Vibracathedral Orchestra. Bower's own Rural Electrification Program label subsequently issued archival collections of live Sunroof! material, spanning the group's entire career up to that point; these collections, which included Slipstream and Temple Music, Vols. 1 & 2, were available only in CD-R form. The more official release Cloudz appeared on VHF in 2003, and marked a move toward a softer, more serene brand of trance-rock. It was accompanied by the group's first U.S. appearances late in the year, which produced the limited-edition CD-R USSA. ~ Steve Huey