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Isengrind/TwinSisterMoon/ Natural Snow Buildings - The Snowbringer Cult [Students of Decay - 2007]

The Snowbringer Cult brings together two-eighty minute discs of material from Natural Snow Buildings and their two solo projects, TwinSisterMoon and Isengrind. Most people have never heard Natural Snow Buildings because they've released everything up to this point themselves, in miniscule editions, with beautiful handmade packages. The artwork on this release is by Solange Gularte, and it's every bit as stunning as the music contained within.

Gularte's Isengrind project starts the set off with forty minutes of Wicker Man infused drone. There's an earthy other-worldliness which make this music approachable, while at the same time it seems like something sinister is at play. The drones include organ, flute, acoustic guitar and percussion, and are quite dense. As drone goes, they're very musical, because of the use of multiple instruments, as well the use of wavering tones, instead of just single tones.

The next 40 minutes of disc one are taken up by TwinSisterMoon, Mehdi Ameziane's solo project. There's fair bit of drone here as well, but an English Folk element comes into play as well. The vocals are somewhat reminiscent of a young Vashti Bunyan, just to give you a general idea. You could say that the vocals are pastoral, and within the framework of the dark psych-laden acoustic music, innocent and mysterious. Perhaps the most straight-forward track is Water Barrier, a a spare vocal piece with minimal acoustic accompaniment. Even though it's as close to "normal" as this music gets, there's still an heir of surrealism which intervenes.

The Natural Snow Buildings disc is no less mysterious, but it's arguably more sinister. There's a real horror movie feel to a lot of these weird, backwoods drones and songs. Yet it's not cartoonish or unnatural in any way. The music is certainly downbeat, yet the instrumental interplay makes it totally involving. Considering that this music was all "recorded on 8 tracks at home", it's amazing how richly layered it is. As a duo, they build up a pretty hefty head of steam from time to time, partly through the use of some gritty, distorted electric guitar.

The second disk also includes a fair amount of material which has inevitably drawn comparisons to cinematic post-rock outfits such as Godspeed You Black Emperor. This is because the music is a bit more rock oriented then their side project alter-egos, and because of the dramatic effect that the music puts forth. But that's where the comparison ends. Natural Snow Buildings create atmosphere, but unlike GSYBE, they don't build up to crescendos, and their music is decidedly less structured. Suffice it to say, though their music borrows many elements, it comes off as entirely original. This set is a great intro into the strange world of "the Snowbringer Cult", and it's encouraging to hear that their back catalog is set to be reissued as well. More, please.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Erwin Michelfelder
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