Snapped Ankles - Stunning Luxury - - Soundblab

Snapped Ankles - Stunning Luxury

by Howard Scott Rating:9 Release Date:2019-03-01
Snapped Ankles - Stunning Luxury
Snapped Ankles - Stunning Luxury

It is a fairly frequent theme in music today to attempt to recreate the sounds of the natural world by using every tool available in a musician’s box of tricks. With electronic means readily accessible to recreate the sounds of storms, birds or even insects, numerous artists are trying to become one with Mother Earth through their recordings. Snapped Ankles have a different idea. They don’t want to recreate nature, they want to BE the nature. Performing in outfits that resemble a cross between Bigfoot and Cousin Itt, the foursome use synths made out of logs, drums described as “sticks beating taut animal skins” and otherworldly camouflage to provide their quickly growing audiences with quite a sight to behold on stage. Even their mic stands consist of oscillator infused lumber which emits a non-wooden sound when pounded on with another stick.

Hailing from the ancient Eppert Forest, the nature-boys quartet apparently have also discovered very long extension cords, since electric guitars also add to the woodsy melodies they produce.

Of course, all of this imagery and backstory legend would be all for naught if the music didn’t hold up its end of the bargain. Dressing up like any kind of boogieman (even Estate Agents, as the boys sometimes do) is easy enough, but in the end, the sounds have to be there for success. “Stunning Luxury” the latest on the Leaf label by Snapped Ankles (really, what other label could it be?) is ample evidence that these woodsmen have the skills. Their creations sound something like the result of a tryst between Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention band and Devo, with manic pounding beats and unique bleeps and bloops backing the vocal, which isn’t so much singing as it is finely tuned wailing. There is a deep ambience of London West End warehouse rave embedded in the ten cuts here, and it is both fun and rather unique.

The four members attempt as much anonymity as possible these days by using only one-word names, which may or may not be a piece of their actual moniker. Austin handles the guitar and vocals (and mic stand beating), Chestnutt is the keyboard shrub, Zampirolo does the animal skin assaults and the bass is the assignment of March.  On “Pestisound” (Moving Out) all four are up for the challenge. The repetitive keyboard and drum patterns back a lyric which creates a new word whose meaning isn’t hard to decipher. It's a jaunty little tune that sets the stage for the oncoming timberland assault.

“Tailpipe” sports an electronic attack which enhances the “suck a suck a suck a tailpipe” chorus. The Surgeon General probably wouldn’t approve, but what does he know about music, anyway? The percussion is a prominent ingredient of the anthem and instills a frenzied mood throughout. 

Primal pounding and some interesting electronica abide in “Letter From Hampi Mountain” while “Rechargeable” gets a bit more rock and roll with accelerating beats that mimic the rejuvenation of an almost-dead battery. The warehouse throb is readily apparent, thanks to some finely honed drumming and exquisite keyboard work. 

The slithery synths allow “Delivery Van” to be more lyrically prominent than other cuts, with Austin yowling about a four-wheeled transporter. Like most of the record, a constant crazed beat doesn’t allow anyone to relax before the tune disintegrates into a slice of electric noise at the end. 

The bass goes berserk in “Three Steps To A Development”  as the lyric gives us a trio of actions to undertake. “Skirmish In The Suburbs” uses ghostly vocals to produce what sounds like the soundtrack to an apocalyptic horror film. You have to give Snapped Ankles points for creativity, though I thought distant echoes of “Revolution 9” were evident. 

It has been a while since I have heard a telephone dial tone used in a song, but there it is on “Dial The Rings On A Tree”. “Drink and Glide”. on the other hand, uses basic guitar and drums to rock out until the keyboards eventually take over to blast the song into parts unknown. 

“Dream and Formaldehyde” is the shortest cut on the record, which is too bad, as I found it one of the most enjoyable. Its as if Cure classic “Lullaby” has been updated by four guys dressed as hedges, but it is done very well. It is much slower than anything else on the record, has no vocal and uses an eerie synth line to produce an unsettling but magnificent mood of somewhat muted dread. 

Snapped Ankles are a breath of fresh air in our “Trumpexit” mess of a world. As with any art-performance type of band, seeing them live is necessary to appreciate the full effect of their show, but “Stunning Luxury” is the next best thing. It’s amusing, entertaining and highly innovative while not being pretentious. The forest has never sounded better!

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