Following his excellent 2014 debut full-length, Mosaic, and several singles that were collected as Axioms, London-based producer Throwing Snow (Ross Tones) released his second album, Embers, on Fabric's Houndstooth imprint in 2017. More conceptual than his prior releases, the album is a continuously flowing suite that incorporates many sounds from nature: rainfall, fire, birds, even purring cats. Unlike Mosaic or Snow Ghosts (Tones' trip-hop-leaning project with singer Augustus Ghost and co-producer Oli Knowles), there are no vocals on this album, but they would only be distracting here. Without explicitly narrating a story, the album has a cinematic progression that keeps the listener captivated from beginning to end. After beginning with crackling embers (matching the album's title), ominous pianos slowly lead into viciously growling bass and dubstep beats, while thunder and fragmented strings flash abruptly in the background. On "Helical," Tones employs supremely warped, wavy synth tones and slapping U.K. garage beats. While these elements are similar to the sound of his more club-focused singles, here they feel less encumbered by the structure of a DJ set and more reflective of the unpredictable flow of human emotions. The beat dies down well before the track ends, and the following "Allegory" feels like it's in shock and has to wait a few moments before regaining composure. The album continues down its suspenseful path, drifting through trudging downtempo rhythms and shimmering arpeggios before the heavy 4/4 beats return with a vengeance halfway through "Recursion." The two-part "Prism" provides a bit of disco ecstasy to counter the apprehension of the majority of the album, with rickety, obtuse beats dancing over frazzled synth textures. First single "Cosms" pulls all of this together into an eight-minute epic, with complex, interlocking melodic patterns spiraling over a shuffling beat, ending up at a woozy downtempo finale. The album ends as it begins, with the smoldering remains of a dying fire, driving home the album's theme of interconnectedness. Another absolutely stellar work from Throwing Snow.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson