Snakadaktal : Sleep In The Water
Weightlessness is a hell of a feeling whether it is physical (floating) or metaphorical (transcendence). Running with the duality of this adjective Snakadaktal have released a debut album that, firstly, sonically flows with an effortless style that is so well produced it immediately contemporises them with UK megastars The XX. Secondly, the album’s title and cover art, depicting a grey sea, touches upon that feeling of weightlessness and expansive wonder that is deeply imbued in the lyrical depth and vocal deliveries of Phoebe Cockburn and Sean Heathcliff.
This album is a winner on so many levels with the two first releases from the album, Ghost and Hung On Tight, as powerful as they are polarising. Cockburn’s vocals on Ghost seem to have relaxed somewhat from Snakadaktal’s 2011 debut EP with her voice losing that youthful twang and now settling in somewhere between Tori Amos and Kate Bush. Lyrically the song seems steeped in painful regret and begrudging acceptance: “We spun around trying to make sense of our luck… Ghost, Ghost.” The musical backing to this song is sparse yet profound. Softly fingered and icy guitar is abused by jarring riffage from the lead guitar, reminiscent of the 1980s production of Dire Straits and more recently Bon Iver on Bon Iver.
The single Hung On Tight burst into our media channels the same week Snakadaktal were set to play Splendour and, with its dramatic film clip and vivid lyrical storytelling, the song has already made quite the impact. Musically the song is dissimilar to Ghost because while still having the ethereal edge, Hung On Tight drives forward with compelling inexorability like a boxer pulling themself off the mat only to then deliver the winning punch. Heathcliff’s vocals are stirring and the lyrics well chosen. Stylistically he too seems to have retrained himself somewhat since the band’s earlier days when at times he came off a little too Matt Corby for my liking.
The song Feel The Ocean Hold Me Under diverges from the previously discussed restraint as the claustrophobic allusion of the title is mirrored musically as skittering drums collide with cluttered guitar and synth lines. I am sure the cacophonous rhythms of work well live but on this album, coming in at track six it brutalises the mellowed listener. However, in an album full of so much beauty, maybe the chaos of Feel The Ocean Hold Me is required?
A highlight of this album’s tenderness and beauty is the triptych of The SunI,II and III. The first movement features Heathcliff and a clean guitar strum pleading to be listened to and the third movement that closes the album is a beautiful coalescence of the best parts of Snakadaktal: naivety, texture, intelligence, and beauty.
Best Track:Hung On Tight
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: Coexist THE XX, Total Life Forever FOALS, A is for Alpine ALPINE
In A Word: Deep