artist: Sand Snowman
release: The World’s Not Worth It
format: LP, 2xCD
year of release: 2011
detailed info: discogs.com
It’s always a great pleasure to be able to follow an artist from humble beginnings to a wonderful present. Sand Snowman is one of those artists who I’ve been lucky enough to follow since the first release Moth Dream, five years ago. Since that time, Sand has refined his style of psychedelic folk to a high degree. His early compositions where a bit too incoherent at times, not all elements working together all the time, but this has changed in his latest few albums, all of which were excellent.
Two Way Mirror, released on tonefloat over two years ago, was already a great work, with wonderful experimental elements on piano and acoustic guitar, a mixture of song and soundscape. Last year’s Nostalgia Ever After on Beta-lactam Ring was an experimental return into the psychedelic folk rock territory of Moth Dream, but Sand returns to calmer shores with this year’s followup.
The World’s Not Worth It is an uncommonly strong work in itself, with a wonderful flow of atmospheres and melodies. The opening track is slightly mysterious and ominous, and sets the tone with a nostalgic combination of fingerpicked melody, flute, and Moonswift‘s dreamy vocals. “Ice and Rainbows” adds gentle drums, bass, and a bit of electric guitar into the equation, as well as a longer, more drawn out composition, whilst retaining the original and magical mood. “Under the Stares” shines because of its great piano work, comprising some wonderful improvisation as well as a very memorable returning theme. “A Life Rehearsed” once again features Steven Wilson on guest vocals, and it is the most traditionally song-like track on the album, a gently flowing progressive folk/rock track.
After this more intense central track, we return to a more contemplative mode with “Regal Season”, a great mysterious piece for piano, guitar, dreamy flute, and voice (Moonswift again), crowned by a fingerpicked solo near the ending. “Events in a Skyline” is even more wonderful, a tranquil instrumental mainly based on piano, with a distinct jazzy touch, opening up wonderful vistas in your mind. This is one of those tracks with a power of its own that’s always there, within the album, but also separate, as a work onto itself. The closing track adds a touch of psychedelic folk rock to finish the album off on a quirky note.
Lots of words for the main album, which comes highly recommended for lovers of psychedelia and folk. But of course, there are some extras to this tonefloat release. The LP edition comes with a extra CD copy, but more importantly, the 2CD edition has a bonus album entitled Vanished Chapters. If it’s anything like the dreamy soundscapes of The Magpie House, which accompanied the 2CD edition of Two Way Mirror, it’s very much worth your time.
Reviewed by O.S.
1. Samhain Rain – Arise (4:05)
2. Ice and Rainbows (7:12)
3. Under the Stares (9:24)
4. A Life Rehearsed (6:21)
5. Regal Season (4:42)
6. Events in a Skyline (5:58)
7. The Rebel’s Rulebook (5:27)