Throwing Snow, a.k.a. Ross Tones, will release his new album on June 25th via Houndstooth. The artist’s fourth album is the audiovisually-augmented Dragons, a work that occupies the space between science and ancestral wisdom. It links music back to its prehistoric capacity for transmitting knowledge to new technology that can make sense of the complexity of the contemporary world. Dragons’ ten tracks of heavy primal rhythmic synth productions incorporate the physicality of acoustic sources, from ancient ritual instruments to modern drum kit, and each track is accompanied by visuals generated by a neural network.
Tones is a Houndstooth stalwart, and Dragons is his fourth full-length album on the label, along with a string of 12”s and EPs. His first album was Mosaic in 2014, followed by Embers in 2017, and Loma in 2018. Originally from North England, for the last few years he has worked from The Castle, his studio an hour outside Bristol/Bath, where he can both forage his own food and find the headspace to make music and experiment with modern technology. He is currently recording a new album with his trio Snow Ghosts, and a soundtrack for a Netflix documentary.
Ross Tones developed Dragons’ neural network with artist, designer and technologist Matt Woodham. The structures and changes in Tones’ music trigger corresponding changes in accompanying moving images, which combine life in three scales, from microscopic views of rocks to large scale maps. However, listening to the album without the visuals is also somewhat satisfying as we engage with this heavy synth.
The tracks on Dragons match Tones’ ambitions for the album in weight but not complexity. They are intentionally dazzlingly simple in their means, for maximum effect, with repeating motifs, locked basslines, cosmic patterns and full-frequency mids. Throbbing ritual dances like that on Traveller are not uncommon on this new LP from Tones. Bass-heavy and with that rhythm that will make it near impossible to stay still, this is one of my standouts from the album. Brujita on the other hand feels down right gritty and dark, sounding unsettlingly industrial at its core.
As is typical for Tones’ Throwing Snow project, the album contains a bold and eclectic mix of instruments, from a bodhrán and daf to cello, with their uses rooted in their inherent acoustic properties. Always unexpected when you listen to the result. Tones also essentially built his own sample pack for the percussion patterns, working with drummer Jack Baker (Bonobo, Kelis, Alice Russell, Planet Battagon) on an intensive two-day session.
Polished, religiously throbbing and rinsed in repetitive motifs, Throwing Snow’s most recent LP is a great WFH listen, just a nuisance to resist the urge to leave post.
Dragons is out on 25th June, via Houndstooth