Artist: Snow Wite
Title: Psychedelic Days DX Cassette
Label: Wormhole Records
Keywords: Club Grunge, Guitar Pop, Powerpop, Rock
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
When I was like… still really young… well, all through my youth really, I used to go to these places, rollerskating rinks with arcades. All the time.
I’ll sometimes think about my life like this, and why, why everything in my life revolves around music…
… there are many possible answers to this, for me, which is probably itself the biggest reason for why. You look for and gather a body of evidence to support a conclusion.
But, one such answer is to be found in an impersonal experience I’d had at a rollerskating rink in my youth. I remember it vividly, and yet will likely recall it imperfectly.
There was this guy there on a particular night, just rollerskating. He had long, bleached hair, a dark 5 o’clock shadow, was wearing a leather jacket with chains and studs, tight blue jeans with obligatory holes in the knees. Very Kurt Cobain-esque. Anyway, I pried myself away for awhile from the glowing arcade machines I couldn’t afford and made my way to the floor to get my skate on. My timing was highly fortunate. Shortly after, the DJ put on ‘The Macarena’. This was right in the middle of the height of its popularity. And, when it came on, this guy I mentioned… he just started doing the most over-the-top, quasi-erotic Macarena dance out on that floor, really putting energy into it… slapping his own ass, pelvic thrusting… making these grotesque, Johnny Rotten-style faces… all while rollerskating!
It was incredible.
The thing about it that made it feel important was… there was not a single shred of irony. He was completely unconcerned with anyone and anything but The Macarena. He was 100% in the moment. So much so that even on a moderately crowded and well-lit skating rink in the middle of the US, surrounded by kids and parents and people who could never understand, he seemed alone and comfortable with himself and capable of being moved by sound into a uniquely raunchy twist on an American dance craze.
That’s what music is all about. That’s what I’m all about, or at least what I aspire to be about, and I suspect that’s what Snow Wite is probably all about. That really says it all. Total immersion in music or something. I like fans of music who immerse themselves completely in sound, and artists who come across as totally immersed in the music they create.
Rollerskating rinks came up in a conversation recently that I’d been having with a guy at a house party. He had just taken something like 10 soma tablets and was chatting with me about how he wished at one point he could have been a rollerskating rink DJ… it’s like, yeah… I’ve heard stranger dreams, for sure… but I could really relate, as I’d had similar thoughts too, about how it would be fun for maybe a day, to just play weird, chill, lo-fi psychedelic feelgood music at a roller disco with friends. It would be fantastic! Then I thought about this Snow Wite tape and how it is exactly the sort of thing that would be perfect in that context.
So many trains of thought and synchronous experiences have lead me to write this review right now. I bought this tape a few months ago, and really I’ve just been looking for the right way to start talking about it, because it’s really great.
The a-side begins with ‘300 Degrees’, piano and string ensembles making for a very epic intro going into the powerpop rock track. The tape has a warm, lo-fi and glowy rock feel. I love how the guitar solo leads sound on tape!
Next is ‘Secret’, a lo-fi, downtempo treat, with a hot, noisy noise guitar lead in the center.
Then, the super warm and buzzy ‘Aphrodite’, which seems like pop glitz wrapped in a blanket of fuzz. The bass is a brickwall, the vocals have an occasional shriek of feedback, the guitar lead thing spins around before soaring off into space like a magical carousel. The guitars generally are like a dense layer underneath. I love the thick electronic groove at the end… I feel like I’ve said this before…
… anyway, next up is the wonderful, whirling ‘Diane’. Rapid tambs, guitars with phasers sounding like a late-90s post-grunge pop track, reminding me a little of Garbage. It’s a lot of fun.
I sit, listening to these ghosts after the last track on the a-side played… I took the volume up further and further and realized that I was most likely hearing a backmasked portion of the b-side… scary…
… the b-side begins with ‘Hand In My Pocket’, the first of the material that was previously unheard for me, an exciting thing! It blows in with some heavy drum breaks and thrashing guitar. I’m glad now that I picked this tape up, because this track brings a lot of energy! Ah, and yes, I think I recognize some of this as the reversed bit I heard at the end of the a-side. Just when you think this tracks going to end, with some chaos, shredding, drum smashing, it goes right into it again.
‘Dirge Hole’ makes an appearance here as the 2nd track on the b-side. It’s nice… been awhile since I last heard it, and it’s sounding really good on tape.
‘Corner Of My Eye (Garage Ver)’ is really badass… it’s dense and dark, really heavy on the low-mid end, the vocals floating overhead. All kinds of unexpected noises here. Like lasers. All the buttrock leads make me happy.
‘California’… beach waves, lovely phased guitars, very pretty harmonies… it feels like California. Sunshine, melodic lo-fi rock vibes.
Of all his songs, I think ‘Psychedelic Days’ is the one that gets caught in my head on repeat most often, and it’s a nice closer for this deluxe cassette edition of his EP. It begins with lovely electro grooves and guitar melodies. Perfection in analog.
What I love about this tape, and really the whole body of work I’ve heard from the artist, is how I came to it all from just one single (that I was promptly moved to review) that seemed to be, as I soon found out, the only one of its kind among the artist’s repertoire. There were so many things I liked about it that I was unable to avoid the pitfall of developing an expectation for what the rest of his music would be like, and the terrible thing about expectations is that you’re needlessly setting yourself up for disappointment when you create them. Even when an expectation is met, it’s like the pleasure of that is never lasting, but when something doesn’t meet an expectation it can have very long-lasting bitterness. Really, there is no point to having an expectation; they can and will ruin good things. I traveled this path of hearing the rest of Snow Wite’s work, reviewed more of it (here and here), and found myself at first impression not sure exactly what to make of it all, secretly harboring a desire for more music like that once-off single, before finally realizing that the rest of his art, the vibe of it all, the sound… was perfect. It was actually much preferable to that single, and listening to much of it was like letting a rainbow into your heart. I tossed aside my expectations and fell in “something like love” with the rest of his music because of it. Then I bought the tape, and got to hear all of the awesomeness of the originals but with this lo-fi vibe that kind of made it, ‘Dirge Hole’ included, feel highly cohesive in a way it hadn’t been before. It all made sense. Now, I appreciate ‘Dirge Hole’, as being just one example of really good song-writing, among his others, but also as a component of the whole, working alongside material like ‘300 Degrees’ and ‘Aphrodite’ when before it all felt so completely different.
Something that came across to me while exploring the artwork for the cassette was just how spread out some of these recordings were. I don’t know how long this material took to collect, but studio recordings were made in three different states! Despite the cohesion of the EP, there is an undercurrent that makes it feel like a collection, largely the result of the grooves of the tracks varying wildly in some places. That makes me wonder how long it could still be before we might expect a full-length from this artist (as the EP was originally released in 2012!), something I’m very hopeful about. When I try to collect my thoughts and impressions of it all, I feel very strongly that it’s like I’m listening to someone right on the brink of taking off. It’s like listening to something any highly successful artist might have made just a few years or less before putting out that one major record that launched their career, in a way. When or if the next album comes, it could be monumental. Or, at least, very very great… so we should all make sure we hear it! If I’m correct, then I’m glad I can treasure this limited edition tape.
Currently, on the Wormhole Records label’s site, the tape is sold out… that’s really sad, I know. It would be nice if they could be persuaded to produce a 2nd edition of it — I do not know if they will — but, I’ve discovered a possible loop hole for any of you who can’t wait: apparently, you can purchase a lock of Snow Wite’s hair for $8.00 through their website and Wormhole Records say it comes with a free copy of the cassette… hahaha… so, for anyone wanting the tape, I would maybe try pulling this off, buying locks of hair and then sending a message asking if it does, indeed, come with a copy of the cassette. Honestly, it’s the weirdest and most absurd way to get a copy, so I almost wish I’d gone that route! Maybe you could use the hair, as well as some chewed up bubblegum to create your very own Snow Wite idol to put on an altar or something. Or, maybe… you could take it rollerskating with you, have it dance the Macarena.
I’ve done it… we’ve come full circle. It’s magic! 🙂