Nature and Organisation
Death In A Snow Leopard Winter


4.5
superb

Review

by Brandon Nelson USER (18 Reviews)
August 5th, 2015 | 11 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ravaged yet romantic invocations for a long winter.

Hibernal gloom dawns in the first moments of Nature And Organisation’s ultimate album Death in a Snow Leopard Winter as a lone, grave piano sounds the sparse notes of a simple theme. In time, crooning violin, viola, and cello hoist the melody from the hoary earth and expand upon it before sending it back, leaving it even more desolate than before. What transpires from there serves as the score for mourning a lost loved one by the fireside on a winter night. The mood is often cold, like the sensation of tears freezing to the face, but not without the glimmering warmth of some misplaced hope.

Composed in the autumn and winter of 1997-1998 by Current 93 contributor and first-generation neofolk bastion Michael Cashmore, Death in a Snow Leopard Winter is an oft-overlooked pearl in an understandably maligned genre. Rather than leaning on industrial pomposity or baseless political sentiments, these 12 unnamed tracks reap inspiration from contemporary classical music and feature nothing more than Cashmore’s piano and string quartet accompaniment. The result is a stunning record that could be considered Cashmore’s absolute masterpiece.

Subtitled "A Dream of Joy in a Sleep of Sorrow", the album is remnant of an incomplete work, a larger musical vision abandoned by Cashmore for personal reasons. Once there was a grander design for the music on display here. The arrangements were to be fleshed out by oboe, flute, bassoon, timpani, and vocal sections, but were cut short for one reason or another. Still, Cashmore opted to release the collection as is “in the hope that it may still be of interest to at least some people as a documentation of a work that was in progress.”

A full orchestral version is certainly more ambitious. Without that final product in hand, the disappointment may be comprehensible for some, but Cashmore is perhaps selling himself short by labelling this album as unfinished. The fragility and minimalism is what regularly fosters the music’s appeal. These compositions, which alternate evenly between delicate piano passages and full sweeps of strings, are unceasingly beautiful in their sparsity. Cashmore displays his uncanny skill as a pianist with these ravaged yet romantic invocations for a long winter, performing with Debussy-like grace and intimacy as the emotive swells of strings saunter in and out of earshot. Slow crescendoes that falter before their peak capture the human condition of striving for but falling short of one’s potential. Really, nothing more is needed.

Long out-of-print, Death in a Snow Leopard Winter is about to see a long-awaited re-master and reissue, alongside its seminal predecessor Beauty Reaps the Blood of Solitude, in the two-disc compilation Snow Leopard Messiah, which is slated for release in September via the German label Trisol. This is fortunate, because this record, though considered incomplete, is one of few examples of an album that fully transcends the genres that bore it.



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user ratings (10)
Chart.
4.6
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
bnelso55
August 5th 2015


627 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Full album stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oElXaC5KsEg



Preorder for the compilation: http://www.tesco-germany.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=4991



The cover looks like a design you’d see on a double XL t-shirt being sold in some Midwest gas station, but the music is actually quite good.



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Ebola
August 5th 2015


248 Comments


"The cover looks like a design you’d see on a double XL t-shirt being sold in some Midwest gas station"

Can confirm.
Great review too

Digging: Ghost (SWE) - Meliora

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2015


20806 Comments


this is sounding beautiful so far, have a well-deserved pos

Digging: The Byrds - Ballad of Easy Rider

bnelso55
August 5th 2015


627 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Atari! Glad you're enjoying this, so far. I really like it.



Ebola - yeah. The artwork is not the highlight of this act.

DungeonBoy
August 6th 2015


583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome review. Never heard of this but will definitely check it out tonight.

Digging: Black Fast - Terms of Surrender

bnelso55
August 6th 2015


627 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Dungeon. Hopefully you enjoy it. There's a lot of great music here, but I think some of my favorite moments occur around the album's midpoint.

Forest159
August 6th 2015


23 Comments


Heard a bit of it, totally loved what I heard. Great review man. Will definitely listen to all of this when I get a minute. Probably order the album too.

Digging: Rivers of Nihil - Monarchy

bnelso55
August 6th 2015


627 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cheers Forest. Yeah, you know, 15.99€ for a double album is actually fairly reasonable. Even though I don't care for Beauty Reaps the Blood of Solitude quite as much this album, I'll probably take the plunge and order the compilation as well.

NLD
August 6th 2015


99 Comments


Nice review, I definitely need this

DungeonBoy
August 13th 2015


583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've spent a lot of time with this thanks to your review, and I must say it's pretty amazing. The melodies are beautiful and it's so captivating for such few instruments.

bnelso55
August 13th 2015


627 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Glad to hear it! Emotionally, a lot is accomplished with very little. I think that is what I find so appealing about this record.



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