Sonic Reducer: Jewel • Fresh Snow • The Expanding Flower Planet

Geoffrey Plant
3 min read
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Jewel finds space on the front cover of her new country album to share this philosophical bombshell: “what we call reality in actuality is our perception of it”—confirming that Picking Up the Pieces is a “return to the emotional and musical territory mined on her landmark 1995 debut Pieces of You”, as her press release states, warning potential listeners of the pithy musings awaiting them. Jewel’s voice is in good form here, even if she can’t decide if she’s Dolly Parton (who joins her on track 13), an American Idol contestant or one of the Indigo Girls. Perhaps Jewel has rearranged the pieces too many times trying to find herself in a self-constructed world where everything is imbued with symbolism, myriad interpretations, paradox and deeper meaning—a world built entirely on the cotton candy surface of the universe actual thinking people inhabit. Jewel knows we think she’s shallow, too. On “Carnivore”: “I’ll never trust my pink, fleshy heart to a carnivore”—duh—“I’ll take back my songs and my poetry/ and next time I won’t be so easy to read.” Uh huh.

Fresh Snow WON (Hand Drawn Dracula)

Droney, slightly industrial post-punk with krautrock (Can is my nominee for 2015 musical influence of the year; everyone is borrowing from them) beats and riffs, Fresh Snow’s WON sometimes resembles those French-released, experimental albums from Sonic Youth or, as on the tracks “Blood In The Sun” and “Proper Burial”, Kraftwerk covering Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets. On songs like “Don’t Fuck A Gift Horse In The Mouth”, Fresh Snow is like a more polished, Toronto-based version of Washington DC’s post-revolution summer, pre-Fugazi, improvisational punk bad-asses, Happy Go Licky. Without pretension or smarminess, Fresh Snow appears to employ the low-pressure creative process of not-giving-a-fuck. Doing so, these dudes have successfully discovered a repetition-heavy formula for music that gives off a vibe of feeling good. On my list of best releases this year, WON begs to be played loud.

Deradoorian The Expanding Flower Planet (Anticon)

Here’s another krautrock-tinged album of inventive and beautiful psychedelic music, this time built on a foundation of groovy keyboards and bass led by the resonant vocals of Angel Deradoorian, formerly of the Dirty Projectors. Deradoorian’s debut solo effort is chock ‘o block with driving rhythms and wonderful noises that will please your sympathetic nervous system. The drumming on “The Invisible Man” is straight-up the same beat found on the Can song “Vitamin C” and, like Can vocalist Damo Suzuki, Angel Deradoorian is known for her hypnotic repetition of words and phrases. The hypnotic singing and lyrics on The Expanding Flower Planet sound like they make sense—I admit I haven’t figured out what’s going on yet subject-wise, but I’m leaning toward trippy self-help manual. Deradoorian will appear at Sister on Sept. 20 with Sterolab’s Laetitia Sadier.

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