ENDLESS RITUALS – SNUTTOCK
Music, maybe more than anything else in the waking world, takes us away. We listen and journey into some new place. Perhaps on parade, or in the midst of some war between gods, into a bedroom (with or without some flavor of kink). Arriving, we recognize where we have arrived—even in places we never thought existed. Snuttock’s music opens a trap door, and we fall (Alice-like) into a weird and wonderful world, part toy box and part freak show.
The duo of Bryan Lee and Christopher Lee Simmonds comprise Snuttock. Since forming the band way back in 2003 they forged a new sound, or at least a new way to play and communicate and revel in sound. Like most really good musicians (or artists for that matter) pinning down what they do with words proves tricky. Certainly their creations do not fit into a mere single category. Synthpop? Industrial? Semi-goth? Dieselpunk? All of the above and more, as well as none of the above.
Endless Rituals marks the third label album by Snuttock, produced and distributed by Morphius Records. For years they’ve honed skills and experimented with different possibilities, in the meantime slowly gaining a bit of notoriety within niches of Baltimore’s music scene. Eventually they started to collaborate with filmmaker Laurie A. Smith, who directed more than a few of their music videos and in the process captured a ‘look’ in complete sync with the band’s signature sound and aesthetics. Like those earlier efforts, the promotions for Endless Rituals give a glimpse into a weirdscape as compelling as a new, unknown, and possibly foreign fairy tale. A haunted place, possibly by a humanity long gone but whose detritus have found their own life somehow. Broken dolls try to make old machines work. Memories of lives that feel familiar echo in the flickering sepia. Hands of wood and plaster, eyeless faces of plastic and no hair. But surely, these are not people. Are they? This is debris, rather than anything sentient or aware or curious. Right?
Right? Maybe. Maybe not.
Bryan Lee’s classical music training blends in part with Christopher Lee Simmonds’ engineering skills and the result feels very much like a visit to where memories retire and grow old, but then wake up. Even the title suggests as much—Endless Rituals. Rituals that have outlived those (humans?) who first began to don these masks and use these machines. Rituals with a life of their own now, unending and eternal, needing no breath nor blood to continue. Only time.
Previous titles suggested much in the same vein. In 2005 was Straightjacket Life, followed in 2008 by Carved and Sutured. Now, with even more experience and a bigger budget behind them the Band gives us a great variety of rhythms and feelings. This album with its eleven tracks (and a bonus four unavailable for digital download, only found on CD) has more of an upbeat or driving feel, as if we aren’t so much walking through Snuttock’s secondary cosmos as running, racing even. As if we search for something. Or flee from it.
A personal favorite is “Catharsis” in which filmmaker Smith’s music video lets us wander ever deeper inside what seems to be a room part of the Snuttockspace. Mia Regalado meanwhile gets the credit for the four minute Album Commercial now doing the rounds—complete with all signature details one comes to expect after discovering Snuttock for a time. The sepia. The artificial people (dolls, mannequins, etc.). Machines of all kinds designed to make sound or perhaps convey it would be the better phrasing. Even examples of discordance—visual, aural, emotional as well—somehow merge and bleed into a harmony. Here is not a world at peace. Not really. It seems almost to be dead, but again one cannot help but note signs of life amid inanimate objects. In much the same way, the machines that create this music have voices, even words. Background noises form part of the ambience of tune and tone. What follows fugues together. Into itself.
The digital album emerged in June, 2013 but the special bonus CD with those extra tracks became available March, 2014. You can find out more by checking out their website at www.snuttock.com .