Snowman – Absence


(Dot-Dash Recordings, 22nd April)

Ever have the feeling where you’re dreaming but you’re not quite sure if this is a dream? There’s a certain unease to it, nothing within it is tangible. This feeling is like listening to the fourth and final album from Perth band Snowman, Absence, a breathy mix of post-punk, dream pop, shoegaze, post-rock and prog-rock. Where their 2008 masterpiece The Horse, The Rat and The Swan was a psychobilly post-punk nightmare, Absence is a dream.

‘Snakes and Ladders’ is the slinky, sexy opening to the dream, like the siren calling you to the fall. The single ‘Hyena’, bears a mystical tribal sense of it, chants of ‘Hyeeeeeeeena! Hyena!’ bringing intensity behind the repetition when surrounded by the synths and guitars. ‘White Wall’ is a romantic waltz through the created dreamland, driven again by the strong drum patterns and Joe McKee’s stunning falsetto.

‘Séance’ brings with it more unease and the ghostly chanting ‘Where is my baby/Where is he hiding/Down in the valley of the deep blue sea’ bringing sinister feelings to dreamer, hinting at the lurking darkness underneath the surface. Then the feelings are washed away in a sea of noise and synths only to return on ‘Δ’, a post-rock track, warping and creating a building, looped atmosphere of sounds that crescendos then wastes away to nothing. The use of vocals as merely another instrument is particularly noticeable here, breathy intonations add more noise to the intricately layered sounds.

The final act then begins. In ‘Memory Lost’ and ‘A Vanishing Act’ serve to build the noise, looping the intonations, the synths, the percussion and the guitars looping to crescendo the album to its final track, ‘Absence’ where it begins like the lullaby you’d hoped for and ends out drowning the album in a blaze of percussion, synths, strings and noise. It finishes with 1:13 of silence. You can rest now. It’s over.

Absence is a fitting title for an album delivered by a departed band. It truly is a shame for that these songs will not be played live. Snowman’s departure leaves an absence not filled easily, for they had truly proven what they were capable of. At least they left us with the Australian album of the year.


Radio Monash Archive