Snowblink – Inner Classics – album review and top ten

Snowblink – Inner Classics (Arts and Crafts Productions)
8 October 2012 

Snowblink’s Inner Classics is released this week; a gentle album of swooning vocal and echoing beats. We take a listen to the record and then have a chat with Daniela Gesundheit from the band about her top ten albums.

The album opens with a scaling vocal; crystalline in tone, echoing slightly as each bubbling note pops upon the skin of the next. It is Gesundheit’s voice which shapes Inner Classics. High, clear, and dream like. A mountain stream caressing the beat bedrock below.

Just like the debut this is electric folk, now bringing in more of the space and cool of Canada where the duo (Dan Goldman makes up the other half of the band) spend time in Toronto and Montreal while also returning to the warmer climes of LA.

In fact the immediate environment is part of the album. Imagery of nature crops up throughout  – from the wilds of the waves to the open space of the mountains. It’s not just in the lyric or that vocal but in the melody, and the space between each note, too.

A considered and comforting collection with a beautiful and occasionally quirky vocal to lift this above its peers.

Ahead of the release Daniela Gesundheit takes us through some of the important records along her own musical journey and how they’ve contributed to the forming of Snowblink’s sound and her own development as an artist.

Madonna : Who’s That Girl Soundtrack

I figured I would lay this out in chronological order for total transparency. The first album I remember owning was Madonna‘s Who’s That Girl soundtrack. I had a small pink boombox that I would carry around to my friends’ and relatives’ houses, and it unfailingly had the little white cassette tape in it blaring “La Isla Bonita.” I had dances that I choreographed to the songs.

Enya: Watermark

Once my family transitioned to CDs, one of the first I bought of my own volition (after the New Kids on the Block Christmas Album, which I have refrained from adding to this list) was Enya’s Watermark.  The record felt like the musical equivalent of a children’s book which I loved called Flower Fairies of the Trees.

I would make up melodies to the text of the book and sing the text as though it were a libretto to an opera. I could not (and still cannot) decipher Enya’s lyrics (her enunciation is more cryptic than mine) but the feeling I got from listening to her as a child could only be described as mystical.

Ella Fitzgerald: Live in Rome

In high school, a friend burned me a copy of Ella Fitzgerald Live in Rome. I had already started listening to jazz records (Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme), but the first time I heard what Ella could do live I was shocked. I studied that album note for note until I could sing all of the solos by heart – I considered it a masterclass.

Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark 

I hated this record the first few times I heard it. I had gotten into Blue and promptly sought out Joni’s entire catalogue. I found the production so oily and sleazy at first. It sounded cacophonous and offensive to me. So I put the record away – but every year I would give it another try.

Finally when I was around nineteen or so, I put it on and it just felt so good. I recall hating cilantro until puberty, at which point it suddenly tasted like the most delicious herb I could imagine. My experience with Court and Spark is comparable – repulsion giving way to addiction.

Alice Coltrane: Journey In Satchidananda

A couple of years later a professor, Anthony Braxton, passed this record along to me. I had already opened my ears up to harp thanks to Joanna Newsom’s Milk-Eyed Mender, and I already loved much of the psychedelic Jazz from this era. I found Journey In Satchidananda to be so open, lush, generous, and powerful.

Bill Callahan: A River Ain’t Too Much To Love

I had never heard music that embodied perfect stillness like this. The close, clear, reverb-less presentation of Bill’s vocal paired with his immaculate lyrics combined to give me a palpable feeling of a held breath. I went to this record countless times seeking that wizened stillness, and it never tired.

Timber Timbre: Timber Timbre

When I moved to Toronto, my friends all recommendedTimber Timbre. I soon met Taylor Kirk and we quickly became friends and musical peers. The first time I heard his self-titled record, I was in a cabin on Lake Erie in the middle of winter, sweeping the living room, and I put it on and just burst into tears. I listened to it non-stop for most of the two months that we were in the cabin.

Julianna Barwick : Sanguine 

My friend Frank passed Julianna’s music along to me, and the first time I heard it, ever the narcissist, I thought I was hearing my own voice. Julianna and I share the wing of the vocal tone mansion that houses clear, pure, ultra-high pitched voices. She had taken this ability, done away with words, and layered her tone into choirs and choirs of ecstatic expression. Her work encouraged me to let that part of my range to enter more freely into the snowblink set.

Brian Eno: Apollo

Dan brought this record home, and when he put it on, I stopped whatever I was doing and sat and listened, simply listened, for the entirety of the record. The buoyant lilting guitars and swirling synthesizers felt like endorphins. It took me several years to even watch the film, but I listened to the record every chance I got.

Yma Sumac: Legend of the Sun Virgin

I came across Yma’s music while living in San Francisco, and I had never heard anyone sing like her. I immediately locked myself in my room and copied her bird chirps and low growls until I could at least approximate them. She is the one recorded vocalist that I cannot imitate, and I have enormous respect for her ability. I also love the schmaltzy production and her whole bogus back story of being an Incan Princess. I love her drama.

Snowblink‘s Inner Classics is released on 8 October 2012.
Album review by Sarah Lay. You can read more from Sarah on LTW here or follow her on Twitter.
Top Ten Albums written by Daniela Gesundheit. 
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Sarah is a former editor of Louder Than War and a freelance music writer for numerous other publications online and in print. Co-owner of Reckless Yes Records she has put out music by LIINES, Pet Crow and lots of other awesome bands as well as put on shows by bands including Bivouac, Mark Morriss, Desperate Journalist and Dream Nails. She's an author, user experience designer and digital content strategist, as well as an occasional broadcaster. Sarah is a compulsive collector of coloured vinyl, a believer in the boogie and is in love with possibilities.


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