Primal beats formed into electronica bass grooves.
London producer Throwing Snow approached his fourth album ‘Dragons’ with a vibe in mind. He wanted to create bass album that is neither firmly electronic nor acoustic but merged past and present into one form. ‘Dragons’ does this on several levels, making it a cinematic dance collection that scratches a specific itch. It is all about patterns, networks, drives and surges of sound and Throwing Snow pulls it all together in a compelling way.
The album is largely a drum and bass led affair but the percussion comes from all different places. You’ll be hearing huge thick bassy pounds of a kick drum but not realise it’s an Irish bodhran that’s been sampled and transformed. The idea throughout is to take instruments you’d normally hear in an acoustic, often primal folk setting and repattern their sound into electronica. It makes the sound palette unique and distinct whilst often sounding like something familiar. To run alongside this, bass lines take the main thrust of the sound structure too. Often heavy, hard and surging – they buzz and vibrate loudly in the mix and bring that primal urge from the electronica side over to the acoustic edges.
The songs themselves also follow a pattern too. Most tracks have evolving riffs or motifs that spiral, grow or bend slightly over time. ‘Purr’ for example is a six-minute groove over drone sizzles and airy keyboard cosmic kaleidoscopes. Elsewhere, the aggressive bass and big drums forge the path with ‘Brujita’ like an action hero movie theme. ‘Elder’ brings in cellos and turns them into transparent celestial notes, chops them up and has them unfurl over quickfire drum loops.
A lot of the album feels like it could score the TV show ‘Knight Rider’. The synth pads and buzzing bass lines used in tracks like ‘Halos’ fit the style perfectly. Bookending the album are two ‘Dragon’ tracks that fit the dense hi art dark synth mood too. It’s clear geography and time inspire Throwing Snow though as other pieces like the garage piece ‘Equitem Nocte’ plays with ethnic strings to create a cinematic chase sequence. ‘Lithurgy’ sounds like old organs have been electrified and bought to life mechanically over heavy drums, whilst ‘Ochre’ mixes pointillism synths with growling basslines that sound like piano notes shattered into submission. I love how destructive and deconstructed the album sounds.
It’s worth noting that Throwing Snow has also pulled together an audiovisual element for ‘Dragons’ too. Alongside the music, each track has a cosmic pattern styled music video. Working with Matt Woodham as an artist and technologist, they created an algorithmic neuron pattern. Every sound in the music generates visuals for the music to feed off of. It reminds me of the Merkaba and other cosmic designs in the way how it all slots together. If you have the chance, put it on a big screen with the lights off for a truly psychedelic experience.
‘Dragons’ is an album that is difficult to describe. It doesn’t follow the usual electronica tropes and that is why it stands out as a great piece of work. As cinematic and grand in scope as it is heavy and dense in atmosphere, Throwing Snow has made a cracking album. This is one I’ll be coming back to time and time again.