Zoon van snooK

(Falling From) The Nutty Tree

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Bristol seems to constantly produce a stream of musicians who are proud of creating a sound that's at once something that could only be produced by their city but doesn't sound anything like what most stereotypes of what "English" music is. Zoon van snooK's debut album finds the one-man band of Alec Snook continuing in that vein -- (Falling From) The Nutty Tree may have its moments of random whimsy, often in song titles like "Shall He? Shanty" and "Ee'm Yorn," but always does so in the context of beats, basslines, and what sounds like a lifetime's worth of scrounging funk, dub, and techno efforts from all over the place. (A couple of moments bring the kind of extreme shadows and drama familiar from the Massive Attack/Portishead/Tricky wing too, but songs like "The Two Knives [Cuckoo's Reprise]" are much more the exception than the rule.) Unlike a lot of at-home electronic experimenters who seem to emphasize a fussed-over politeness, there's an easy, playful swing on songs like "The Cross I'd Bear," chimes and distant flutes set against steady shuffles and early Eno keyboards, while elements ranging from acoustic guitar parts, kalimba melodies, and vibraphone crop up throughout, and often to sparkling effect, as on "Plainsong." Meanwhile, the busier, part machine/industrial moodiness of "Half Term (8:08)" is as much relaxed warm contemplation as hyperactive beat collage, a nice drop-kicking of a feeling and aesthetic from sources like 2001 and Blade Runner into a new century. Above all, it helps that Snook is clearly embracing the possibilities of full sonic construction as its own raison d’être -- it's the same conceptual leap that Four Tet ended up pursuing, and if Snook is following to some extent in that artist's slipstream, he does so with his own individual voice already taking stronger shape.

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