Even only at four tracks, it is not surprising that it took Jason Walton five years to make this first Snares of Sixes album. It’s not even because of his more pressing obligations with Self Spiller and the recently defunct Agalloch, although that busy schedule probably played a part. No, it’s that the sort of bugged-out avant-prog he’s built this latest project around isn’t the kind of expression that happens overnight. For better or worse, I cannot remember the last time I heard such a dense and sporadic recording. For better or worse, Jason Walton has taken the most challenging aspects of Dødheimsgard, King Crimson, Venetian Snares, and the Mars Volta, and composed a new being from their entrails. This is a suffocating listen even by avant-garde standards. There is often so much going on that the arrangement rests consistently on the verge of succumbing to noise. If that sounds like a negative criticism to you, it’s probably best that you steer clear of this one.
Stream “Lions to Leeches”:
On the other hand, if you want to see just how far an artist is willing to push a sound, Yeast Mother: An Electroacoustic Mass carries a ton of intriguing ideas, all vying in competition against one another for your attention. A lot like Sculptured or Walton’s aforementioned Self Spiller, there is rarely a promise that these Agalloch-related bands will appeal to the more casual metalheads who leapt aboard the wagon with The Mantle or any number of their other albums. If had I heard Snares of Sixes without any preface, I could have sworn the music had stemmed from the experimental whim of one of black metal’s experimental Third Wave geniuses, perhaps Vicotnik (Dødheimsgard) or Snorre Ruch of Thorns. The playful industrial interruptions and drugged-out avant-metal on Yeast Mother is drawn from that school, but the collage doesn’t end there. I am certain that King Crimson was a large part of Walton’s listening diet at some point in the past few years, with Red and their 2003 industrial metal bout The Power to Believe coming closest to mind. That’s not to mention the electronic interference popping up wherever it will. Snares of Sixes frequently gets its chaotic instrumentation chopped up further with nods to electronic breakcore.
As I’ve listened to Yeast Mother, I keep thinking of the influences that probably went into its making. Given my love for all the bands I’ve been reminded of here, this made the first couple of listens a pleasantly familiar (albeit overwhelming) experience. However, as I’ve listened more, I’ve become increasingly concerned that the genre-bending weirdness of Snares of Sixes isn’t congealing into an impression of its own. It sounds like all the maddest influences of one talented musician thrown together, sure, but more often than not, the weight of those influences crushes the music’s potential to create its own atmosphere. More often than not, the overwhelming mess of electro jitters, dissonant riffs, schizoid poetry, and oscillations end up wearing me down as a listener. With so many different things going on, it took nothing short of genius to combine all of this together into four songs. It would have taken something more than genius to make it really work.
01) Urine Hive
02) Lions to Leeches
03) The Mother’s Throat
Written by: Conor Fynes
Label: Artist Is Searching / TBD
Experimental / Electroacoustic / Experimental Metal