Natural Snow Buildings “Daughter of Darkness:” Part Two

Welcome back for part two of my exploration into the latest hyper-dense release from Natural Snow Buildings, “Daughter of Darkness”  The second tape in a mythical beast greater in stature than the icy peaks climbed on cassette one.  If you’re planning on spacing out to this one, make sure you have plenty of time to spare– the first piece alone extends beyond forty-three minutes.

Ameziane and Gularte open cassette two by twisting the limbs off of the traditional folk piece “Curare,” which closed the first cassette.  Again showing their prowess for building and breaking sounds, they open “Her Face is Not Her Real Face” with a heavy section of acoustic guitar chords and beautiful female vocal chants.  The French duo slowly deconstruct their glorious monument, pulling away each element and filtering it back through broken but still every bit as breathtaking as it once was whole.   We’re only 1/3 of the way through this track.

Reassembly.  Now sullen and wrought with tragedy.  Natural Snow Buildings pick up these fragments and piece them together so precisely it is as if they were never totally dismantled in the first place.  The lovely vocals come back and so do those ominous chords.  Minimal tribal rhythms now accompany the piece, which is seemingly gathering so much weight that it feels as if we may sink into the ground along with it.  Natural Snow Buildings begin to lift the weight before it becomes too much to bear, transforming the track to an exercise in tonal meditation.

Such a stunning piece is not easy to follow, but “Body Double” does an admirable job.  Melodious, conventional guitar-picking and warm drones give it a much more inviting feel than the darker tones featured on the previous track.  Choral work, free form drum and tambourine are added, giving the track an almost overwhelming amount of layers.  A kaleidoscope of swirling, sunny day psychedelia.

After being warmed by “Body Double,” we are again submerged in darkness  on “Slaves for the After Life.”  With a title like that, you had to know twee-pop wasn’t going to be hitting your ears.  More of the same plodding, heavier drones and vocal arrangements that were focal points of “Her Face is Not Her Real Face.”  While the foundations may be similar, the directions are very much divergent.  Natural Snow Buildings quickly drape these morose drones over top of pounding drums and supplement their female vocal sections with male choral sections.  With it’s stomping and slinking percussion this piece feels like a celebration of the damned.  Similar to tape one, tape two closes with a gorgeous piece of more traditional folk music.  Like much of tape two,  focus is again placed on female chorus use and minimal guitar.

Cassette two really sees Natural Snow Buildings finding their footing.  The delicate balance between the serene and the macabre that emerges as a central theme on this tape makes for a captivating listening experience.  Somehow this tape manages to be even more arresting in its imagery and composition than the already-stunning  tape one.

Remember to check back for part three!

Download Natural Snow Buildings “Daughter of Darkness:” Tape Two

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~ by theoberlander on April 1, 2009.

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