Here’s a fun one, as Snow Palms returns with a new lineup and a new sound. At first, Snow Palms was a solo venture for mallet instrumentalist David Sheppard with friends; Origin and Echo made a big impact when it was released in late 2017. Now the act is a duo including Matt Gooderson (synth, tape, piano). But perhaps today for Everything Ascending, we can consider Snow Palms a quartet, as these primary figures are joined by Christian Forshaw (clarinet) and Megan Gooderson (voice).
The techno base and name of the ten-minute title track hearken back to Underworld (“Everything, Everything”). Pulsating synths are joined by even louder cross-synths as the percussion moves to the main stage. Shimmering cymbals act as flurries before the main event, a snowfall of glockenspiel. At this point the wordless vocals join the party. The track sounds like Christmas or a snow globe storm. But wait, there’s more! The piano arrives, and then the clarinet. Turns out they’ve been biding their time. And this is why we make the Underworld comparison; that band’s best long tracks were successful because they kept developing, and “Everything Ascending” does the same, making room for alternating passages of low and high density. The result is an exciting excursion with a high replay value. At half the original’s length, the radio edit goes right for the jugular and should help chances of a mainstream breakthrough.
To fully appreciate the b-side, we’ll have to go back a few tracks to Matt Dunkley’s “Cycle 12,” the concluding part of Dunkley’s Cycles 7-16, released last January. On Record Store Day, Snow Palms transformed that orchestral track to an electronic piece with synth, glockenspiel and voice. Their remix turned out to be prescient, a precursor of their new sound. Dunkley apparently liked it, and reverses the trick here by turning Snow Palms’ mallet-happy Circling into an orchestral piece. While the track is recognizable, the timbre is totally flipped. One hopes this collaboration will continue, as each artist preserves the skeleton of the other’s music while adding new flesh. Dunkley’s layers of strings honor the title while raising the adrenaline. So what would happen if the new Snow Palms remixed Dunkley’s take on the old Snow Palms? It’s just an idea for now, but not out of the question ~ and we’d love to hear the result. In the meantime, this two-track 12″ is a great taster for all that is to come for this rejuvenated act. (Richard Allen)