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DROWSY – Snow On Moss On Snow (Fat Cat)

Posted: May 14th, 2006, by Alex McChesney

Before the first half of “Snow On Moss On Snow” concludes, you will be imagining that you have the measure of it. On “Treehouse”, Mauri Haikenen randomly drops into growly monster-voice, while “Bakery” sounds like he’s singing to a class of schoolchildren about the joys of bread-making as a career. It’s not that the album is childish; just bubbling over with ebullient joy for life’s small pleasures.

Which is all very good, and you’ll likely be expecting more jolly acoustic singalongs to come. Enjoying them, probably. Worrying that they’ll be getting on your nerves by the end, most likely? But then mid-album track “Good Old Odd Good” proves to be a quirky multi-instrumental. (Is that a harmonium? I don’t know.) It cleverly resets the ears in preparation for a turn towards darkness in the second half. It’s a pity that this album on vinyl, since it’s hard to think of another in recent memory which has divided itself so neatly down the middle, without seeming like two disparate albums welded clumsily together. The acoustic guitar doesn’t get abandoned, but it’s plucked with melancholy rather than joyously bashed, and his voice drops an octave. I’d never go so far as to apply the word “concept album” to this record, because it’s a horrible term with many negative connotations, and I like it more than that, but it might not be too far off the mark to assume a “childhood/puberty/adulthood/old age” structure to it. The second half is far from a gloomy march-to-the-grave, but when it’s positive it’s with tactful understatement. That is until penultimate track “Off You Go All Authors”, where Haikenen bellows over a single pair of accordian chords in the manner of Jeff Mangum. Not like a five year old with a new toy, but in the manner of one who has passed through self-consciousness and given it up at the last minute. And, of course, nothing implies death like a sad piano instrumental like the one which closes the album.

In summary then: nice music by a young man with a brain in his head and more than one trick up his sleeve. A good thing.

Fat Cat Records

Alex McChesney

Alex was brought up by a family of stupid looking monkeys after being lost in the deep jungles of Paisley. Teaching him all their secret conga skills (as well as how to throw barrels at plumbers), Alex was able to leave for the bright lights of Glasgow where adventure struck him and he needed all his conga skills to save the world and earn the hand of a lovely Texan princess. He now keeps a low profile alphabeticising his record collection and making sock monkeys in the likenesses of his long lost family.


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