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On Deck: Snowmine

By ; February 6, 2013 at 3:58 PM 


Brooklynite five-piece Snowmine seem intent on carrying the indie pop mantle along with artists like The Field Mice, Daniel Rossen, and Port O’Brien, just to name a few. Led by classically trained composer Grayson Sanders, the band peddles their pop confections spiked with orchestral arrangements, tribal beats, and a mixture of organic and synthetic landscapes. Gearing up for another round of touring after releasing their debut record Laminate Pet Animal back in 2011, the band’s been keeping to an extensive set of tours which has left them constantly moving and crisscrossing the country for the last year and a half. Taking some time before heading back out on the road, the band sat down and came up with a list of 5 records in our latest installment of On Deck. Ranging from pre-Phil Collins Genesis to Steve Reich, their choices are indicative of their own disparate and varied influences. Enjoy their choices below.


Genesis - Foxtrot
Genesis – Foxtrot

I randomly stumbled upon this album about 8 years and it immediately blew me away. This is very early Genesis with Peter Gabriel as the front man. And it is also one of the last full records they did together before Gabriel left the band to start his solo career. Recorded in 1972, this album was way ahead of it’s of time with it’s lush sounds, complex compositions, the incredible vocal style of Peter Gabriel. It is the prototype (in my opinion) of the ‘Art Rock’ movement and is progressive rock at it’s finest; creating complex movements of music without being ‘complicated for the sake of being complicated’ that defines most of the prog rock genre. The song ‘ Supper’s Ready’ is a classic example of tasteful progressive music. It’s an epic 23:00 and goes through 4 different musical shifts yet still remains cohesive and never goes so far off the map that it loses the listener. As a guitar player, I am very inspired by this record. Steve Hackett’s (guitar) playing is so tasteful and unique, writing lines that are compositionally quite ‘out’ and yet are balanced perfectly with the rest of the band.


Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People

Though there is definitely a dose of nostalgia inspiring this choice, I always come back to Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It In People as one of my ‘desert island’ albums. It is dynamically perfect— complete with beautiful orchestral instrumentals contrasting aggressive post-punk anthems. The album’s production pushes conventional boundaries of clarity by choosing a more boldly chaotic sound; the drums explode with a gritty compression that ebbs and flows like heavy breathing with each cymbal blast. The album’s imperfections give life to each track— some begin as if someone just hit record on a jam session; you can hear the singer directing the band in “Looks Just Like The Sun”. It’s hard to believe a group so large (13+ people) could collaborate to create a record as complete as this.


Brian Eno - Ambient 1 Music For Airports
Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music for Airports (78)

Ambient 1: Music For Airports (78) is part of Brian Eno’s ambient series. Eno was inspired to make this album after an unpleasant airport trip. He wanted to make music that would “get rid of people’s nervousness.” This album really shines through its lush production, minimalist composition, and sounds. Track “2/1” features a choir of reverby vocal tape loops cut to different lengths and run at different speeds. The result is a majestic vocal wind chime in a concert hall that sounds inspired from John Cage’s phase series. The slight variations in tape loops display hidden melodies and harmonies within random patterns. Other tracks also feature acoustic piano and ARP 2600; all include warm tape manipulation. The album was made to diffuse tense situations at the airport and it does, I can contest. I reach for this sonic sedative of an album for calm vibes. I love albums that prescribe to one state of mind completely and strongly – they will always be there.


Beck - Sea Change
Beck – Sea Change

I keep coming back to this album and every time I fall more in love with it. The depth of both the song writing and the production pulls me in and I hear something new with each listen. Its definitely a shift (a sea change) from Beck’s more upbeat and party filled albums which I love but this melancholy yet uplifting album has been resonating with me recently. The melodies are catchy and emotional but the sounds take you on a journey. The strings which were apparently arranged by Beck’s father are beautiful. The musicians on the album play simply and tastefully, but they explore and let loose in just the right moments. Like everything Nigel Godrich has produced, this is perfect headphone music and each sound comes together to wrap you in lush and spacious sounds.


Steve Reich - Music For 18 Musicians
Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians

This album, which is really just one continuous piece, changed the way I conceptualized melody and harmony. I was first exposed to it when I was 18. Up until that point my idea of music had always been constructed of structurally definitive boundaries. Sections were announced by cadences…and so forth. To me, the frightening and exciting thing about hearing the piece was that it was pulling the same visceral emotion out of me with little macro melodic content. The whole thing is comprised of tiny melodies that fit together in the greater harmonic ocean. The piece rose out of Reich’s early experimentation with large ensembles in psycho-acoustic music, and it floored me to know that it was composed and performed in 1976, a time before modern electronic dance music. For all its metrical and repetitive rhythms its remarkable to note that every part was played by a live human being. No computers or arpeggiators here, just people interacting to create a unified mass of subtlety within cyclical harmonic textures. Its the perfect piece to either command your focus or force you into your subconscious, but either way, its desired effect is nonetheless powerful and comes through on each and every listen.

 Snowmine’s latest single “Saucer Eyes” can now be streamed over at their bandcamp site.

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