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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Snowbeasts - "Ice & Shadow"

Artist: Snowbeasts
Album: Ice & Shadow
Year: 2014
Label: Component Recordings
Genre: Drone, Ambient
Website: componentrecordings.bandcamp.com

Ice & Shadow is the second album from the new droning ambient project of Raab Codec (owner of Component Recordings). The title is extremely apt, as it is perfect description of what this album sounds like: shadowy glacial drone.

Ice & Shadow delivers nearly exactly what you would expect from something described as "glacial drone". The minimal, dreary layers of droning conjure up images of walking through barren plains of snow and ice while being surrounded by hazy, grey skies and wintry mist. The cover image captures it fairly well: grey, cold, icy, and something of a grainy or gritty feel which gives it a "dark" flavor. Most of the songs are formed of the standard ingredients: long droning passages with the occasional synth beep or warble - like the distant sounds of machinery at a research base in the arctic. If you listen closely you will also hear plenty of subtle sfx and neat electronic, almost industrial accents (again, my mind instantly thinks of old machinery). Despite describing them as "standard", I do enjoy these tracks and feel like they would fall into the "above average" category for drone/ambient music - it's the proper ratio of boring/hypnotic/repetition and movement/things happening (albeit subtle things). Snowbeasts also aptly employ rising and falling tension to provide much needed dynamics in this kind of music. "Days Without Light" is a good example - the song is comprised of myriad small sections where the main component(s) of the track and their consort sounds rise, flicker, reverberate, and then shortly thereafter disappear from view - while yet retaining an overall feel of slow-paced, drone music. Things really pick up on the track "Ice Crawler" which contains driving analog percussion and conjures something of a Biosphere - Substrata vibe. Disappointingly, this is the only track on the album to feature percussion. It was done well and I'd really like to hear more of that sort of material from this project in the future. To be honest, I find a lot of "drone" music to be too boring and minimal to give merit too, but I rather enjoy this record and it kept me entertained in a way that a Visions or Gustaf Hildebrand record would.

Definitely something to check out for fans of cold, minimal, electronic ambiance. If you enjoy Glacial Movements, Sleep Research Facility, Necrophorus, Visions, etc than give this a listen. It's not a game changer by any means, but it is a solid addition to the style of music.

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