I’ve been somewhat obsessed over the last six weeks or so with the self-titled debut album that Snöhamn released back in October, yet I’ve been relatively hesitent to write this review. This album has sort of been my mental safehaven if you will, a place for me to stay close to familiar territory while feeling on the outside looking inside. I just kind of kept brushing this album aside in favor of promoting or reviewing other albums because I liked that every time I put this album on I didn’t have to ponder how it stacked up to the rest of the genre or try to draw comparision lines between Snöhamn and more established bands. Nowadays I’m guilty of jotting down a few keywords or early impressions when I listen to an album for the first time. To be blunt, Snöhamn is the first album that I let myself enjoy as a post-rock fan and not a post-rock reviewer.
Closing in on only 600 likes on facebook and relatively low publicity, now is the perfect time to give Snohamn their much deserved spotlight on Postrockstar. Despite a respectable online presence, there isn’t too much information on the band itself online. From pictures on the band’s facebook we can safely assume that they are a five piece and are actively performing in their hometown area, even picking up a nice supporting spot for The Appleseed Cast last month.
As I’ve said earlier this is album that really puts my mind at ease and peace. At five tracks and just under 40 minutes, it’s an extraordinarily polished record that shines at creating these extremely tight sounding refined ambient soundscapes and then occasionally blowing them to smithereens with inspired moments of raw build ups that leave you awestruck in their wake. “I huset I Ett Hjartslag” (or “In The House in a Heartbeat”) is a perfect example of the band’s ability to really dial up the volume and prove that they are just as every bit as dynamic as any post-rock band out there. Still though, Snöhamn’s calling card is clearly their ambient offerings and “Du Vilar Nu” (“You Rest Now”) is most likely the song that will win the hearts of many listeners. Building ever so slowly upon a wide open soundstage, the listener is lulled on a peaceful journey of minimalist synths and guitar work. The real treat here however is the jazzy free flowing saxophone that makes my ears melt.
I have to believe the band feels as though the 10 minute long “Genom Oss I Natten, Katarsis” (“By Us in the Night, Cartharsis”) is their best work, as they’ve saved it for last. The song has everything you could ever expect in an epic finale. A long build up of mild mannered spiraling guitars that lead into their heaviest material on the album. After peaking halfway through the song we are treated to a moment of peaceful clarity including some very understated but beautiful cello work. With one final great lunge forward the song ramps up for it’s final chance for glory. You can just feel the guitar breaking through the glass ceiling and ascending to unheard levels of high pitched squeals of emotion, desire and passion. A final hurrah that lives up to everything you could hope for.
With everything this album has accomplished, I think the one thing I take away the most from it is that Snöhamn treats their music like fine art. Every layer of sound serves a purpose, there is not a single wasted second to be found on this album. I’d like to believe this record was a labor of love and every minute is heartfelt and genuine. Like a three hundred year old painting, their work leaves much interpretation to the listener, allowing them to draw their own visualizations, ideas and conclusions to the medium presented to them.
From the band themselves:
“Snöhamn is a collective of souls translating its voice into musical and visual landscapes, taking the hearer on inward and outward journeys.”
If the band’s intention was to shroud themselves in mystery, letting their music do the talking they’ve succeeded. It would be a shame if the post-rock world never got to put names and faces to the musicians responsible for something so beautiful save for the lucky few who live in the same hemisphere as the band and get to witness their live act. I know we say it a lot on this site but again this is just another band poised to go far in the post-rock world if they continue to produce material of this expert-level caliber. Forgoing all of the studio gloss, Snöhamn is a product of artistic creativity meeting musical prowess. This album takes me back to that feeling you get as a kid jumping in mud puddles while wearing knee high rubber boots. I’ve listened to and appreciated a lot of albums this year, but none have put me at ease the way Snöhamn’s has.