‘Wexico’ – Snowapple
For anyone who doesn’t know the music of Snowapple, here’s a few words of introduction. They originally were a 3 piece band from the Netherlands, with a totally approach to songwriting, with a very talented line up of singers and multi-instrumentalists and individual approach to music making, and of course therefore a unique sound. I first came across them when I got a copy of their album Illusion’ a few years ago, when I became hooked and intrigued at the same time. Having followed their developing songwriting, I recently reviewed their album ’Tracks’ and knowing that they have added not only new members to the band, but also changed their writing, and performances, I was pretty keen to hear this new record. After one of the original members left for other projects, they have been joined onboard by 4 other excellent Mexican musicians to enhance their sound and songwriting. Of course, because like all creative musicians, we have to open our ears and take a leap of faith that they’ve pulled their new sound into a coherent shape that we can understand and share with them the journey that is ‘Wexico’. Describing themsleves as pop-folk/operatic/avant-garde/latin is a pretty accurate description to be fair and my short review tries to explain why you should give it a listen at your earliest opportunity – a true international music phenomenom!
The wild west, meets mexico, and at a cracking pace too, introduces us to the new soundscapes being explored by Snowapple, and where they want to take us on their latest studio recording. All the usual bands musical sounds are here in abundance, inventive melodic ideas, with exquisite lyrics over wonderful, sometimes complex rhythmic patterns – excellent start, but what next?
Well, were off straight into a latin feel with the second track. Led by some terrific, percussive and rhythmic playing, while the melodic lines are clearly delivered, with some lovely wind instrumental lines added into the mix – very catchy indeed!
Again, complex, and sort of hypnotic, in a musical way, rhythm section introduce us to another sunny, latin dance with the question and answer between vocals excellent stuff. A bonus, well for me, is the electric guitar solo, which seems to appear from nowhere, but provides such a great counterpoint to the rest of the band, as it weaves it’s way around the song. The vocal middle section is a little bit of an aural delight, interspersing between the rhythmic pulses.
‘Better When Were Older’
Another catchy song, led by female vocals over a tremendous series of guitar lines, which produce a sound not unlike the south african musicians who worked on Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’. Sung mainly in English, but bringing a contrasting central latin flavour, enhances the song, taking us on a trip somewhere else.
More laid back, with a great little acoustic guitar pattern, before the glockenspiel leads us into a joint female/male series of vocal harmonies. One thing is quite obvious to me now, how creative the band are, mixing a number of genre styles together, into a unique soundscape of ideas – totally original.
‘Pale Blue You’
With a great, almost classical flute concerto solo intro, which sort of caught me slightly unawares, leads us into Snowapple familiar territory, with beautiful vocal harmonies, and wonderful lyrics. These being both humerous, and cleverly evocative, and all accompanied by a ‘dustbin lid’ percussion, with interwoven sax, and other wind instruments, providing some amazing tones. Plus, the lovely chorus makes me smile, I don’t know why, but it does and feels good.
’There Becomes Here’
Nice acoustic guitar picking, interspersed by banjo/ukele, while the vocal, choral alomost, harmonies are stunning, making us feel…..aaaaaaah. Then out of nowhere, we change mood to an upbeat latin dance again. This pattern of song structure is repeated throughout the song, as the whole album actually – a bit like giving us two songs for the price of one. Whilst the instrumentals are great here, the vocals as always are a delight.
The instrumental performances are really exceptional here, with every line heard crystal clear, bass, wind, uke, guitar, cello, percussion, etc, all the while leaving space for the vocals to float and soar, over and under this arrangement. Such a strong musical structure too, with fabulous contrasting sections, but all held together in such a way that it’s just great. This is a bit of a favourite of mine and a great final track to a fascinating insight into the incredible musical diverse world of Snowapple.
So, to sum up. Well, as I mentioned before I always enjoyed their songwriting and instrumental expertise, with original ways of producing their musical arrangements, here they have added more of this with the extra members who bring along more creative ideas to the party. Sometimes however, there’s a feel as though they have so many fabulous ideas to share with us that the songs feel a little crowded with them. Stopping and starting during a song, changing from one genre style to another, and repeating this process on each song, is a feature of the record. The arrangements can feel too heavy at times too, maybe? The rhythms are complex, or sound it, but the conviction throughout is total, which drives us all along in their musical wake, so to speak. Whilst I like the idea of all this, understand and appreciate the musicality, having listened many times, to a certain extent it may take others new to their music a little while to get on board with it. Remember though, these are such a talented group of musicians, who thinking outside the box, try to take us on their new creative inspired journey, and maybe we need to check our passport/visa application to make sure we can do so. I always say, if I don’t get it all at the first hearing, or two, listen again, and again until I do, it is nearly always worth the effort to catch up with musicians creative thoughts and ideas. So check the album out, if you already liked them, there are a few familiar sounds, but lots of totally new ones, and if you’ve never heard them before get yourself a copy and enjoy a different hour of musical creative ideology. Check the band out on: snowapple.nl