Snowman
The Horse, the Rat and the Swan


4.5
superb

Review

by Kyle Banick USER (30 Reviews)
July 16th, 2008 | 31 replies | 8,875 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: the bassist is kinda cute

2008 has been a relatively empty year in rock music for me. The year started out promising and has delivered plenty of satisfying albums, but ultimately very little has stuck in the truest sense. The nature of the underground scene right now is so blurred with gene-hopping and mishmashes of styles that little is truly shocking anymore, at least to these ears. The artistic relevance of works like Kayo Dot’s Blue Lambency Downward (especially since anything on that album had long been predicted by New York avant garde and chamber rock artists since the 70s) is almost completely null and void under its aspiration towards spectacle rather than honesty, and that’s a problem. It seems like everyone’s just trying to outdo everyone else, and god damn it, if I have to hear about another of these nu-weird-folk-indie-rock hybrids again, I’ll gag. Let’s face it; while inventive and unique music is being released on a regular basis, 2008’s vanguard musicians are simply out of touch with the times.

Enter the first important and relevant rock album of the year: Snowman’s The Horse, the Rat and the Swan. Indeed, this is a band so in touch with our times, it’ll force most people to turn away in discomfort. It’s a record in touch with its own absurdity and so soaked in existential postmodernism that it almost never even escapes the pull of the very black hole it’s spawned from. Luckily for us, it does, and for that fact alone we should be grateful.

The music is constantly shifting and filled to the brim with invention. Whether stomping through ethereal chants backed by colossal drums, dissonant piano and mind-warping guitar; or pile-driving through sections of haphazard post-(insert genre here) lunacy, the sense of paranoia is palpable, like wading through delicious maple syrup. At first the violence of the band’s outbursts can seem too volatile, like a rehash of Nomeansno’s finer moments, especially given the brash opening moments of the record; but after hearing them weave themselves into the masterplan of the album, everything coalesces into one big brew of subconscious dissolution.

In terms of describing the sound, you know the drill by now. This is a band equally informed by ambient, punk, no-wave, post-rock, 60s psychedelic, Eastern drone, shoegazing, blah blah blah. But it’s not simply another flavor-of-the-month addition to the genre melting pot game; this is the real deal. The atmosphere is one of genuine vision. Interesting is the diversity of the band’s lineup. Despite being from Australia, the members’ historical ties link to Indonesia, UK, Italy and Iceland.

The final three tracks tie the whole thing together, giving a sense of purpose to all the raucous, jarring fun that came before it. As epic a suite as I can recall in recent memory, the ghostly, repetitive chanting of “let her go” on “She is Turning Into You,” paves the way for the Godspeed You! Black Emperor-droning-strings-styled explosion on “The Horse (Parts 1 and 2),” which in turn sets the stage for an amorphous, reverb-drenched launch into outer space on closer “Diamond Wounds.”



Recent reviews by this author
Ra Black SunProjeKct X Heaven and Earth
Andrew Hill Compulsion!!!!!The Nels Cline Singers Draw Breath
Queen Elephantine YatraJohn Coltrane Live in Japan
user ratings (12)
Chart.
3.5
great
related reviews

Absence

Comments:Add a Comment 
plane
Staff Reviewer
July 16th 2008


6094 Comments


you barely say anything in this review but i still want this
sup banick where you at

Kage
July 16th 2008


1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

you barely say anything in this review

I guess I've finally embraced music criticism. This Message Edited On 07.16.08

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 16th 2008


3995 Comments


So I listened to quite a few of these tracks on myspace and was hot and cold. I really love the vocal variety and the attention to detail in creating a distinctive ambiance in the production that permeates the entire album. Almost surreal is how it replicates different genres (psychedelic, post-rock, etc.) in a new, nightmarish (but not really) way. It's sort of like how if you want to rationalize Have a Nice Life as post-rock, you have to respect and incorporate all of the industrial and shoegaze influences present. Here I want to call this post-punk but there is so much other stuff happening here I am pleasantly surprised with how much it transcends just one or two genres. However, the songwriting is just so flat. So so so boring and so flat. There's plenty to listen to but these are just not good songs. I'll give them a real listen later but I was upset that so much potential seems to be a-wastin.

Kage
July 16th 2008


1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I see what you mean. But the album as a whole survives on basically everything you said, and I definitely think you should give the whole thing a listen before you decide the songwriting is no good. I think it has a purpose.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
July 16th 2008


2125 Comments


I'm really surprised to see someone review this, didn't expect it to be you Kage.

I haven't actually heard this record in full. I feel kind of like DFel about the band as a whole; there's plenty about them that interests me but their songs don't grab me at all. Certainly they're a great, great live band though and I'd encourage anyone who has a chance to go and see them. I'm regretting missing them and Baseball last night actually. The bassist is kinda cute too.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
July 16th 2008


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Kage, your new summary should be 'the bassist is cute' and I bet you'd get 1,000 more views, minimum and about 15 people getting this, myself included

Kage
July 16th 2008


1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Hey, I made it easy for you.

CushMG15
July 16th 2008


1802 Comments


^^^
He's right.

I think I should use this as my next wave of branching out to "other shit". Pretty good review, right here.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 16th 2008


3995 Comments


[quote=Kage]I see what you mean. But the album as a whole survives on basically everything you said, and I definitely think you should give the whole thing a listen before you decide the songwriting is no good. I think it has a purpose. [/quote]

Oh I'll be sure to do that but ya no promises.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
July 16th 2008


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yesssssss

brandtweathers
July 17th 2008


2007 Comments


solid contribution cage and interesting sound to say the least. where can we find all staff picks these days?

Kage
July 17th 2008


1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks

If you just click on the "Staff Pick" logo at the top of this page, it will take you to the rest of the staff picks.

plane
Staff Reviewer
July 17th 2008


6094 Comments


I'm liking this a lot.

iamrockzorz
July 17th 2008


1029 Comments


i love this! thanks! good review

iamrockzorz
July 17th 2008


1029 Comments


where can i get this!!!

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
July 17th 2008


16088 Comments


fuck man this is just a very hyperbolic review

Kage
July 17th 2008


1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks for noticing that.

sgrevs
July 17th 2008


698 Comments


It's nice to see some good Aussie music get reviewed around here, good stuff.

If anyone likes this album they should try track down Snowman's first release (I think) which was a mini-album/EP called Zombies on the Airwaves of Paris, which is my favourite of theirs.

Kage
July 17th 2008


1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

How does it compare to this one? I mean, in terms of sound and style...

PIGS(1 different one)
July 18th 2008


53 Comments


I like what I hear, where can I find the full version?



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy