|Years active 2002–present|
|Labels Optical Sounds
Saved By Vinyl
Origin London, United Kingdom (2002)
Members Greg Jarvis, Abi Fry, Mel Draisey, Ronny Morris
Genres Experimental rock, Space rock, Drone music, Psychedelic music, Post-rock, 21st-century classical music
Albums Odes, Come Hell or High Water, "O", The Flowers of Hell, Live at The Music Gallery
The flowers of hell sympathy for vengeance audio only
The Flowers of Hell are a trans-Atlantic experimental orchestra made up of a revolving line-up of 16 or so independent musicians based in Toronto and London. Their largely instrumental sound builds bridges between classical music and post rock, shoegaze, space rock, and drone music, often resulting in their being described as an orchestral extension of the work of The Velvet Underground and Spacemen 3.
Led by synesthete composer Greg Jarvis, much of their repertoire is an exploration of the timbre-to-shape synesthesia that causes Jarvis to involuntarily perceive all sounds as floating abstract visual forms.
The group's music has been championed by Lou Reed, Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine), Pete 'Sonic Boom' Kember (Spacemen 3) who mentored the group through the creation of their debut album, and numerous others. They have had positive coverage from media including Rolling Stone, NME, Pitchfork, and BBC Radio.
The Flowers of Hell moniker comes from an old blues concept of transformation whereby the misery and toil of the musician results in the pleasure of the listener. The name was first used by the group’s founder Greg Jarvis on tracks included on various UK newspaper and magazine covermount CDs in 2002 and 2003, of which just under two million units were distributed. Jarvis expanded the project into a London-based live act in 2005 with the founding six piece line up consisting of himself as the principal guitarist, Guri Hummelsund on drums, Abi Fry on viola (later of British Sea Power and Bat For Lashes), Owen James on trumpet, Ruth Barlow as the accompanying guitarist, and Steve Head on Hammond organ. During 2006 and 2007 the group underwent numerous small line up changes.
In early 2008, following a move back to his native Toronto after a decade spent abroad in London and Eastern Europe, Jarvis debuted a North American branch of the group as an opening act for Spectrum (one of the post-Spacemen 3 projects of Pete ‘Sonic Boom’ Kember). The Flowers of Hell now operate on both continents simultaneously with Jarvis going back and forth for concerts and all members contributing to recordings.
Throughout the band’s evolution, Jarvis has remained as its main composer and producer. Jarvis is a synaesthete and his compositions and productions are largely based upon his timbre-to-shape synaesthetic visions. Synaesthesia is a neurological phenomena where two senses are intermingled. With the timbre-to-shape variant, differing timbres give rise to a visual language of sound.
In the fall of 2008, at the request of Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine, the Flowers Of Hell opened for MBV on one of the eight North American dates of the MBV reunion tour. Shields had seen the group perform a number of times in London at popular nugaze nights such as Sonic Cathedral.
Notable events in the group's history have also included NASA's mission control staff in 2009 declaring their fandom and synchronizing The Flowers of Hell song Sympathy For Vengeance with fresh Discovery shuttle footage. In 2010 Greg Jarvis made headlines after being detained in Sentani, West Papua by rebel soldiers from the Organisasi Papua Merdeka. Jarvis was mistaken for a spy and used a ukulele to prove he was a musician. In September 2011, The Flowers of Hell closed Toronto's experimental/new classical Intersection Festival, performing as a 12 piece seated ensemble with Jarvis conducting a full 45 minute rendition of his composition "O", as a free open-air concert on the city's main public square. They returned to headline again in 2015, debuting parts of their first symphony before embarking on a European tour.
The group's early albums saw them collaborate with many musicians who’ve been side players or leaders in well established acts from the experimental side of the indie rock genre. Performers who have guested on Flowers Of Hell recordings and/or live shows include Peter ‘Sonic Boom’ Kember (Spacemen 3), Will Carruthers (Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, Brian Jonestown Massacre), Ray Dickaty (Spiritualized), Ivan Kral (Patti Smith Group, Iggy Pop's band), Ivo Pospíšil (DG 307, Garáž), Owen Pallett (Arcade Fire), Tim Holmes (Death in Vegas), Julie Penner (Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think), Abi Fry (British Sea Power, Bat for Lashes), Neil 'Hamilton' Wilkinson (British Sea Power, Mel Draisey (The Clientele, Le Volume Courbe, Primal Scream), Jon McCann (Guided by Voices), Julia Morson (Toronto Mendelssohn Choir), (The Elora Singers) John Mark Lapham (The Earlies), Tom Knott (The Earlies), Jan Muchow (Ecstasy of Saint Theresa).
Sympathy for VengeanceThe Flowers of Hell · 2006
Muchomůrky BíléOdes · 2012
The Sunrise RetreatThe Flowers of Hell · 2006