Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz (Flemish Eye/Sub Pop)
When the aliens arrive on our decaying planet, Black Mold’s Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz will be their soundtrack. The electronic side project of Calgarian indie rocker Chad VanGaalen is a free-form glitchcore mindfuck—in the best possible way.
Snow Blindness’s songs run the gamut from the melodic “Metal Spider Webs”, which features cello and glockenspiel mixed with delicate synthesizers, to the surreal “Dr. Snouth”, a song that eschews instruments completely in favour of stacked sonar blips and 8-bit beeps. “Rotten Walls” has a hard-core stumble thump to it, before seamlessly segueing into “Memes”, an arpeggiated wonder capped with steely techno-trance beats.
The pace-changing on this album could be overwhelming for the listener but somehow it works. For instance “Barn swallow vs sk-1” combines mellow bass and melodic flute lines with offbeat cymbal crashes, awkward bloops, and a faint, repetitive wail before evolving into a gentle noisescape and back again—all in the course of 146 seconds. Black Mold thinks nothing of mixing violins, harmonicas, and clarinets with the sounds of change rattling, records skipping, lasers firing, and other variegated electro-babble that would never see performance time on the Orpheum’s stage.
Nearly the entire album is frantic, pushing the boundaries of intelligent dance music, a nearly indefinable genre to begin with. The title song, a dreamy track full of space noise, gentle acoustic guitar, and hesitant percussion, is the closest thing to mellow on this album, melding VanGaalen’s indie-folk sensibilities with electronica in a decidedly organic way.
Not quite as melodic as the trip-hopping Amon Tobin but far more accessible than the frenetic breakcore put out by cats like Venetian Snares, Snow Blindness is the perfect beginner’s guide to electronic music—or maybe it’s the future of music entirely. We have to see what the space invaders play when they get here.
Download This: “Metal Spider Webs”