Snowmine – Dialects Album Review

Brooklyn quintet Snowmine don’t just want to create music that you hear, they want to create music that you feel. That feeling is front and centre, filling out all corners of their album, Dialects, which was released on February 4 on the band’s own Mystery Buildings imprint.

Growing off of the band’s previous release, Laminate Pet Animal, Dialects marks a subtle shift in the band’s sound. From the optimistic, tribal undertones of Laminate Pet Animal to a more ambient, meditative nostalgia in Dialects. Recording in a church afforded Snowmine the opportunity to record real reverbs and gather true ambiances that one can feel in their headphones. Combine a stronger presence of vintage synthesisers with the beautiful 1960’s cinema-inspired string, woodwind and choir orchestrations, and you are left with a surreal retro-futurism beckoning you.

The band said: “There are no foreign samples on this album. Every single sound and orchestral moment was written, arranged and recorded by us. The goal of the album was to capture a surreal ambiance that married hyper modern ambient synth tones with vintage 60’s sounding cinematic orchestral motifs. We recorded a choir, strings, woodwinds and re-amped synths in a church to capture truly real stereo reverbs, so in headphones you can feel physical, not artificially created space.”

And this is exactly what Snowmine have succeeded to do on Dialects. It’s this feeling of absence, space and atmosphere that makes it such a fantastic record. Each song has many different instrumental layers to it allowing it to feel atmospheric while at the same time allowing it to breath, creating that sense of acoustics and space which in turn adds layers and depth through absence. The space that’s created in these tracks makes them feel huge and cinematic – they are colossal songs suitable for huge venues and very large speakers.

Columbus is the first stand-out track with its sing-a-long lyrics for its chorus, “All this time when you read my mind/You read my mind/All those thoughts that I knew you’d find/I hide between the lines”. Columbus has a great, uplifting feel to it; the music is light and minimal allowing the vocals to carry the melody. The strings add a layer to the track bringing forward the orchestral sounds that appear throughout this record.

You Want Everything has a relaxing, ambient drum beat at the beginning which is eventually accompanied by a soft guitar riff. Mix all of this with pleasant melodies and vocals and it makes the whole track soothing. In places, this track sounds like something The Script may well have created, especially in terms of the vocals, the tapping, gentle drums and repetitive guitar riffs. The high notes heard in the chorus are spine tingling, “You can try/To be your best/But don’t you know that’s suicide/To want/You want/You want everything/You were right/This is a mess/’Cause we’re always picking sides/But I won’t let/You have regrets/No way/No way”.

Safety In An Open Mind is an ambient, instrumental track that appears around half way through the album. It’s a completely different track from the others on Dialects – it almost sounds like a different band has produced it. The piano at the start introduces a slight Bonobo feel to the song while the crackling noises heard in the background make the song sound vintage, like it’s being played on an old record player – again a technique that Bonobo frequently uses.

Plans is another wonderful delight that appears on Dialects. Those lovely, random high pitched notes return, “No you’re never gonna stop again/You lost your faith you say it no way/No no way…” while the music is cinematic and dramatic. Plans will get your feet tapping and will make a brilliant summer tune.

Snowmine have produced an outstanding, dramatic yet breathable record in Dialects. There’s upbeat, sad, sparse and crowded all on one album. Dialects is out now via Snowmine’s own label, Mystery Buildings.


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