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Old 01-08-2009, 10:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
Pale and Wan
Fruitonica's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Aus
Posts: 915
Default Snowman - The Horse, The Rat and The Swan

Released by Dot Dash Recordings in 2008

1. "Our Mother (She Remembers)" - 2:58
2. "We Are The Plague" - 3:27
3. "The Gods Of The Upper House" - 4:04
4. "The Blood Of The Swan" - 3:43
5. "Daniel Was A Timebomb" - 2:37
6. "A Re-Birth" - 3:25
7. "She Is Turning Into You" - 5:36
8. "The Horse (Parts 1 and 2)" - 6:00
9. "Diamond Wounds" - 6:16

The Horse, the Rat and the Swan are three different characters and themes that reoccur in the album. The Horse represents the apocalypse, the Rat represents betrayal and corruption, and the Swan is the letting go of all of this and realising that one cannot be consumed by these dark thoughts constantly because there needs to be beauty and letting go of that.
—Joe McKee

After reading the above quote, it's telling that only a horse graces the cover of Snowman's second album. The rock quartet from Perth have crafted an uncompromisingly bleak record, a soundscape of black rivers draining into barren seas.

The first three tracks are given over entirely to The Horse in the form of cavernous drums, the opener "Our Mother (She Remembers)" greets you with these before a muddy riff and McKee's manic vocals assault you, incomprehensible, just part of the rhythm.
The song becomes complete when swirling violins arise underneath the guitar and drums, and this is what elevates Snowman above similar bands - their use of layering. Using musical textures to create a high and low counterpoint to each other in the most satisfying way. Such as the TV on the Radio-esque crooning backing the first single "We are the Plague."
"The Gods of the Upper House" continues the focus on pounding rhythms, sounding almost tribal at times. The vocals oppose each other, alternating between menacing murmurs and guitar augmented shrieks. A sinister piano line skitters beneath it all, and in a moment of brilliance, erupts into a diseased carnival jangle around the halfway mark. It closes with the discordant refrain, "We are machines. We are machines."

"The Blood of a Swan" is our first glimpse of light, reflected in the first line, "Fire in the hills, we let it burn," the drums relent and it is accompanied by a menacing piano. Most of the vocal work is falsetto harmony, a softly rolling drum sequence fills out the sounds at the one minute mark.
"Daniel was a Timebomb" is one of the most upbeat and catchy songs on the album, riding a mutant rockabilly riff, the vocals return to the frenzied style of the opener. The mania builds and builds, stutters for a moment of silence before shattering into pure cacophony. After this chaos, the album rebuilds itself with the industrial ambience of "A Rebirth."
For a moment, monolithic drums in the distance hint at another brutal climax, but the Rat shows his hand and it slips quietly into the mournful, dreamlike "She's Turning into You." The guitar slowly transforms into an electronic grinding, before subsiding into silence in preparation for what is to come.

"The Horses, Pts 1 & 2" is one of the most impressive moments on the album, a true display of suspense and pacing. It begins similar to "A Rebirth", with quiet ambience, only punctuated by some barely audible fevered ranting, but gradually folds back on itself, violins and distortion melding layer by layer. Until at three minutes it reaches a tipping point, and the Horse's drums return with blistering, cathartic abandon. The song bleeds out, drowned in gospel tinged chanting.
"Diamond Wounds" is a song of regrowth after the destructive energy of "The Horses", with the opening line, "Awake from the wreckage and ruins, with golden skies and diamond wounds." The music is soothing violin, even after the beat kicks in the guitar and yelled vocals are stripped of their usual aggression. The crescendo is now uplifting.
The closer, "Do the Sleepwalk" starts in a similar vein with murkier riffs, but this is the Horse's album and it asserts itself int he last sixty seconds of aggressive distortion.

This is a brilliant album, with incredible stylistic cohesion and pacing throughout. Quite possibly my favourite of 2008, the only other contender being Dig Lazarus Dig.

Last edited by Fruitonica; 01-28-2009 at 03:55 AM.
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