8-Bit Banter with DjjD: Snareskin – ‘Snares on a Plane’

- Posted December 17th, 2015 by

Hey all, DjjD here.

I can appreciate an artist who gravitates towards a persona for his or her music, but gathering 2-3 different pseudonyms for yourself, takes skill. Not only do you have to maintain each one of these on a regular basis, but you have to separate yourself from….yourself to generate compositions for the correlating genres for each name. Such is the case of Snareskin (a.k.a. froxic, conceptor). Whatever you wanna call him, there’s no denying he has a unique ability to blend the chill and smooth with the loud and aggressive.

HH004-Album-Artwork

‘Snares on a Plane’ released by Heroic Recordings, starts out simple enough with the song “Retrograde” whose vibes are reminiscent of early top down RPGs. The quest begins subtly and suddenly erupts into a flurry of space age technical tricky. In other words, the timbre of the synths is something you’d most likely find in a futuristic movie around 20 secs in. At 1:48 we’re allowed a little breathing room as the kick and snare aren’t as busy thus making my above statement from the first paragraph become a little more clear. It’s this contrast between the heavy and the graceful that makes the upcoming segment at 3:38 so much more distinct. On an equalizer you can visually explore what he does. The more pronounced bass synths hit the lower side of the spectrum and they line up with the kick drum which never goes above 400 Hz during the first minute of the song. The composition is wonderful, and the delightful use of sidechaining compression is well received (at least from my perspective).

The next tune, “Where We’re Going” takes to an even softer side of the SOAP EP. Starting out with a grand piano, this song feels more like an ambient drift along a post-apocalyptic sea. It’s very Aphex Twin-esque due to the meandering yet defining textures. The soft reverb and the piano’s tendency to never stray away from the mid frequencies makes it feel human as if he’s playing this in a concert hall. However, that changes dramatically when the song deviates entirely from its first form and explodes into a wall of sound at 1:08. It is a complete aberration from what was experienced only moments before. Suddenly the tune changes hitting almost the full frequency range of what can be heard in Fruity Parametric EQ2. From 60 to 6,000 Hz, no part of the spectrum is left behind and ending just as softly as it began…the song is over. Or is it?

Without leaving a second of room in-between the last and current song, “Ambitious To A Fault” goes for a more future feel. At 100 bpm (almost on the dot), it feels like a hip hop song walked into a Valve game and came out moonwalking on a flying saucer. The hauntingly beautiful arpeggios at 0:25 are unexpected and quite brilliant as they bring a sense of consolidated uniformity. However, similar uses of production techniques begin to feel thin and overused. Sure, sidechaining compression is very, very popular. Look up the term on Google and be prepared to be bombarded with the well educated and poorly instructed on how to use this digital audio workstation tactic. Don’t get me wrong though, from 0:43 to 1:20 it’s used extremely well. It’s effective in its nature to give listeners a dynamic thump; a undeniable, unshakable beat that hits close to the heart. But, too little concern for moderation on anything, can be a bad thing.

“Clouds” is my favorite on this EP. It is the post-climax, the culmination of all the stories bundled into one, and the fortune teller of what is to come. The grand, atmospheric sense of wonder coupled with the forbearing smoothness of the mixing is powerful in its storytelling to pull you in. From start to finish the song is constantly building on top of itself with symbiotic instrumentation. First it starts with an organ, then mallet percussion and finally it pushes deeper with compounding plucky chords.  The careful handling and layering of the pads in the first minute of the song really emphasize the growth of the product and by the end you realize it’s like the song is unraveling a brightly colored bow of a Christmas present. It’s light hearted fun that’s just plain mesmerizing. Unlike the last song, this one feels refreshing, kind of like a certain sequel to a trilogy of movies.

Blast off! “Stratosphere” is an intense contrast to the delicate essence of its predecessor. Though the two tracks are joined together seamlessly, there’s no denying this is an adventure of its own. As the song starts with a rather angelic yet disjointed set of vocals around 1:10, to break away is to be free. However, I feel confused due to the vocals that follow almost immediately after: other way. I’m not sure if it has any real context in correlation with the song. My imagination tells me that there is a team of astronauts and they’re trying to break free out of the Earth’s gravitational pull in a shuttle. They encounter some rough turbulence and on the ride, the path that seems the most safe suddenly becomes a frantic struggle for survival. What I know for certain is that the song has tremendous restraint and control with the organization and prevalence of its instruments. At 0:45 its at the peak of its loudness almost hitting 0 db across the frequency spectrum, yet at 1:24 it is only the lows that hit that peak. The pads might appear to take the back seat but they maintain their own presence in the mix just by the artist’s ability to manipulate hi-pass filters.

“A Beautiful Uncertainty” reminds me of A Beautiful Mind. Not because it sounds similar melodically, but more because the tone represents an unnerving anxiety of an uncertain ending. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if you’ve ever seen the movie, that quote should mean something to you. It should describe that despite whatever experiences you’ve had, they are not the definitive and only way to observe and interpret something. Much like the main character of the movie (A Beautiful Mind) was criticized for how misunderstood he was, the beholder of this song could experience something very different from another. But before you’ve had a chance to really look for something deeper in the song, it ends. Very abruptly. Either this was the last version available before his DAW crashed (as what happens to so many of us) or it was intentional.

While the album name ‘Snares On A Plane’ could be easily mistaken for a Samuel L. Jackson quote, the music cannot. The bright, glowing textures of his leads combined with his wide, unwavering basses make for an amazing experience. It’s safe to say I haven’t heard anything quite like it and it’s been a wild ride from start to finish. If you liked what you heard here, you should definitely check out his other identities, froxic and conceptor.

Until next time!

Stay Classy,

– DjjD

P.S. Probably won’t be writing another article until after the holiday season. Happy Holidays everyone!

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