Snuttock: An introduction of Rituals

Photograph by Laurie A Smith

Allow us to introduce you to Snuttock, a band from Baltimore in Maryland consisting of Bryan Lee, a classically trained musician, and Christopher Lee Simmonds, the latter also a founding member of Michigan progressive metallers Thought Industry. There the background to the pair and Snuttock ends though the fun and real discovery of the electro outfit is through their music. Some might pin it down as synth pop and certainly that is its breeding but with sonic and emotion cast shadows, a kaleidoscope of flavours and textures, and more twists and curves than a descending slinky, it makes for a proposition which never leaves ears and imagination lost for adventure.

Formed in 2003, Snuttock released debut album Straight Jacket Life two years later. It was the first insight to the pair’s blossoming fusion of industrial rapacity with the instinctive allure of synth pop; a blend shaping Carved and Sutured in 2008 and its collection of new tracks and dance-floor friendly remixes. Where we come in and cast a glimpse into, thanks to Lee and Simmonds themselves, is with the band’s last two releases, Endless Rituals and Rituals Redux. The first is in a way the duo’s proper second album, though it seems to be classed as the third, and was released in 2013. Its successor came out last year and sees a host of artists presenting remixes of its predecessor’s tracks, the album acting like a companion piece to the originals bringing new sides and personas to their already captivating characters.

What Endless Rituals quickly establishes is the diversity across the sound and creative enterprise of Lee and Simmonds; songs ranging from simply synth pop to industrial, dark electro, ambient and much more.  As expectations and assumptions of what comes next arise they are quickly shot down and left floundering as song by song the release persistently presents a new facet to its swiftly captivating presence. For all its twists and new sides though, there is a coherency to it all which links it all as something truly individual to Snuttock.

From opener Attention, intrigue is an eager response, the opening shadows of the track rich in suggestion and invitation before the track breaks into a vibrant stroll. That vibrancy is soon a flood across hungrily catchy endeavour, grabbing body and ears with zeal and infectious energy. There is a feel of early Mute Records bands to the song, The Normal coming to mind most and the laying down of the first compelling moment in the album’s landscape.

The dark wave scented, robotically natured Single Cell Antenna is the first twist in the emprise of sound within the album, its dance dexterity and pop glow managing to also cast a dystopian shadow over the affair. New turns flow through ears from thereon in, the emotional reflection and melancholic sharing of the Depeche Mode like People Too, the reserved but open funk of We Learn with its BEF air, and the dark ambience of Nameless straight away expanding the broad terrains honed by Snuttock. The last of the three is like a flight across cosmopolitan lands, its instrumental blossoming in adventure and suggestion with something akin to a merger of Kraftwerk, Thomas Dolby, and pre-split Human League.

It is fair to say that every track within Endless Rituals stirs the senses; the outstanding and dark, almost predacious presence of Crawl invading the psyche with a prowess reminding of UK band Defeat giving one particular favourite moment though with its thought romancing, dark atmospherics One Day and Spitting Into The Wind with its Blancmange meets Artery like emotive theatre leave their magnetic mark. Even throwing a handful plus of references to give a hint of the songs on offer, the uniqueness of Snuttock is the driving force and continues to captivate across remaining tracks like the haunting post rock/electro ambience of Ghost and the irresistible electro punk popper Advice.

Endless Rituals is a treat, even more so if you can get the deluxe edition with an additional four tracks, which newcomers to Snuttock should make their entry point though Rituals Redux certainly makes for a potent invitation too. Even after years of taking them on board, we have yet to get our personal heads around the appeal and maybe even purpose of remixes especially when the originals are so impressive and dominate. We can equally understand their popularity and in turn demand for others though, even more so after listening to Rituals Redux. Whether it was because we heard it first and numerous times before Endless Rituals, the album like a film or TV show hinting at the majesty of a source book, or simply the quality of the tracks on offer, the mix of all maybe, it certainly awoke an appetite for the Snuttock enterprise and a fun in imagining their originals.

First the only ‘negative’ with the album and that is its radio show skits and bumpers. Whether they are taken from a real show or are simply cast to suggest that surrounding they do niggle personal tastes, especially when coming back to back. It is a minor thing of course and certainly once the music descends and remixes from the likes of Psy’Aviah, Marsheaux, [:SITD:], TweakerRay, and Sebastian Komor, is forgotten as feet quickly leap and the spirit jumps opening track and a sparkling take on Advice by Leæther Strip. Each track takes the core essence and heart of the original songs and casts them in a fresh landscape of imagination or shadow of dark suggestiveness. Major highlights for personal tastes include Sebastian Komor’s fizzy take on We Learn and indeed Marsheaux’s warmly seductive version, The Metroland Protocol’s hypnotic twist on Single Cell Antennae, the noir lit take of the same song by The Rorschach Garden, and Psy’Aviah’s haunting at times senses stalking remix of Spitting Into The Wind.

As we said though, and maybe surprisingly, considering its 2 CD, eighteen track length, Rituals Redux hits the perfect  spot with artists such as [:SITD:], Amarta Project, Statik SeKt, Retrogramme, Red This Ever, TweakerRay, Guilt Trip, L’Avenir, Diskodiktator, and Deutsche Bank Machine equally lighting ears and enjoyment with provocative interpretation and craft.

So that is Snuttock, a band which if synth pop and broad electronic adventure is your appetite should make for a highly pleasing new exploration.

Check them out more @ http://www.snuttock.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/Snuttock/  and their music @ http://www.snuttock.com/store.html

Pete RingMaster 31/05/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Cynical Existence: Come Out And Play

AM1187CD

Released on February 22nd via Alfa Matrix, Come Out And Play the debut album from Swedish band Cynical Existence has been a highly anticipated proposition amongst fans of harsh EBM/industrial/dark electro fans. Last year saw two EPs from the band which lit up the genre and ventured to the darkest corners of the human condition through a melodic abrasion which was as refreshing and enthralling as it was imaginative and emotive. The solo project of Fredrik Croona, founder and one half of the excellent aggrotech/industrial act Project Rotten and former vocalist of dark electro/industrial band Menschdefekt, Cynical Existence has delved deeper in to its heart to create its darkest engagement  yet, a compelling caustic encounter which provokes and evokes the sharpest reactions alongside the fullest pleasure.

A Familiar Kind of Pain, the first EP from Croona, rampaged and stomped over the senses with a near viral infectiousness to a presence drawn on the personal heart and shadows of the artist. It was an impressive introduction to the project which was then equalled by second EP Ruined Portrait, a collection of tracks which breathed with a darker shadow than its predecessor without losing the contagion rife on the first record. It also suggested what is realised on Come Out And Play, a further depth of reflective inspirations which have evolved into a more intense and malevolent creativity. The album is challenging and arguably less infectious than previous releases but with a maturer energy and craft is just as contagious and impressive. It is an intriguing release which asks for more attention than maybe one initially expected but offers even greater rewards.

As the dawning opening atmosphere on A Scar On My Mind envelops the ear there is an immediate sense of darker energies emerging The vocals of Croona are less caustic than expected initially before his usual pleasing squalls of emotion are unleashed. It is an instant variation which grabs the attention and adds depth to the presence of the track. Melodic beckoning caresses weave their way through the chilled ambience of the song brewing a rich mix of light and dark aurally and emotionally. The sonic manipulation through addictive hooks and melodic teases are more of a loud whisper than an open invitation and makes for a fluid and thrilling veining to the track.

The following Deception is a lighter chord of inner investigation, its airy melodics and sun fuelled glow a warm expanse over the waiting shadows. It is with the glorious and unexpected ‘nintendo dance’ which breaks out that the track just soars further in the heart. It is an imaginative and again intriguing pleasure, an open sensation marking the evolution in the composing and invention of Croona. Without the denseness of the first song the track also declares a diversity to Come Out And Play which was possibly missing on the previous EPs and leaves one greedy for more.

The variety is continued through songs like I’m Broken which fuses the crystalline flavours found in New Order to an angst driven dancefloor expulsion of emotion, GDI, and the serpent spawn Face Of God. The middle song of the three licks the senses with its sonic tongue to intimidate and ignite the deepest rapture whilst offering an insidious and compelling melodic wash which command feet and passion. It is the perfect companion to Face Of God, a track which leads one on a dance of sinister intent and vibrant violation. Again light and dark is the invading emotion and once more the track is an angelic evil which leaves one drooling in hunger and desire.

The further in the release the greater the heights of ardour sparked. Pick Your Poison is another where Croona mixes his vocal delivery wonderfully and unleashes a raptorial elegance which is as corrosive and dangerous as you could wish but equally warm and reassuring. The outstanding Reign Supreme and The Sexual Game both leave their tortured touches on the senses with magnetic charm and disturbed emotion, the pair leaving one enlightened and shadowed in personal emotive thoughts, with the latter song inciting within a pair of familiar tracks. We make no apologies for drooling over Paradox and Insecure, two songs which first made their appearance on A Familiar Kind of Pain and stand as our favourite conjurations from the man, though they are seriously challenged elsewhere on this album. The duo return to unleash their hypnotic mordant dazzling and captivating anthemic riots adding a familiar but again open variation to the release.

Ending with a final tempestuous molestation of delicious sonic foment in Seeping Through, the album leaves one on a high and with an irresistible itch to dive back into the cathartic encounter once again. Cynical Existence just gets better and better and one wonders if it will eventually be a bigger beast than the ‘day job’ for Croona. Released as a single album or limited carton box with a second full album of remixes, Come Out And Play is an essential investigation for all electro/EBM/industrial fans and especially those of bands such as Suicide Commando, SITD, Grendel, and Virtual Embrace.

https://www.facebook.com/cynical.existence.official

RingMaster 17/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright