Širom’s press release tops a thousand words, which doesn’t leave much for us to say, but we’re still going to try. I Can Be A Clay Snapper is one of the most original releases of the upcoming season, offering timbres we haven’t heard since the last albums from Esmerine and Jerusalem in My Heart. Listeners will be pleased to make the acquaintance of instruments rarely heard in the western canon, including (hold your breath) the balafon, ribab, cünbüs, ngoma drum, mizmar, frame drums, brač, gongoma, and mizmar. But wait, there’s more! This Slovenian act is also known for creating their own instruments out of “drawers, computer boxes and other junk”. There’s simply no identifying some of these sounds, and for those tired of hearing the same old instruments, this is a very good thing.
The album’s fantastic appeal is that it creates its own sound world, both east and west, traditional and modern. One hears echoes of Slovenian folk songs, then realizes that these are new songs, reimagined by the trio. A very long line can be drawn back to Peter Gabriel’s Passion, which blended hemispheres in a respectful fashion and hastened the popularity of the Real World label. In an increasingly isolated world, there’s no understating the importance of exposing cultures to global sounds.
Širom takes pleasure in the sense of discovery, allowing their songs to lead them to new places rather than restricting them to lines on a paper. There’s even a film (“Memoryscapes”) to go with it. As one watches the band jam out, one is reminded of the punk, metal and post-rock roots of its participants; there’s glee here, especially in the percussion, a sense that it’s fun to play, but that even more fun to smash things up: expectations, genres, rules. The opening segment of “Everything I Sow Is Fatal” is particularly raucous, but in time it sorts itself out. By the center there’s dancing in the streets.
At times the music grows meditative (as in the end of “Boats, Biding, Beware!”, a post-rock title if ever we saw one), but the trio always returns to the groove. After hearing I Can Be A Clay Snapper, it will be difficult to return to the bass, guitar and drums. There’s so much more out there, a fact proven in this music by people who care about reflecting not only their own community, but an imagined community in which all of the world’s instruments ~ and by extension, people ~ create lovely harmony rather than jarring dissonance. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 8 September