To think of snow is to conjure all the crestfallen majesty of loneliness, of stillness, of plaintive surrender to isolated introspection. It’s a bleak, blustery place where the wind is as relentless as the mind is restless. But in that plain of being, that frost-clenched tundra, there beats a warm, human heart: the lone survivor of winter fallout.
Natural Snow Buildings, the progeny of French duo Solange Gularte and Mehdi Ameziane, is probably the most aptly titled musical project I’ve heard in a few moons. At first striking me as a routinely absurdist exercise in indie irony, the name wrapped itself around my head slowly, like yearning vines. As I listened to the songs of their new double album The Snowbringer Cult, I was struck with the profundity – or at least the appropriateness – of their collaboration’s wintry moniker.
In fact, each of “Natural Snow Buildings’ ” three words accurately represents the mood and tone of the album as a whole. Lo-fi, crackling acoustic songs represent the natural. They are the human soul, the honest expression of the artist’s solitude. Yet, even these acoustic songs are cold, stark, desolate. The voice and guitar speak an apathetic, dolorous tongue that, in their omission of histrionics, represent more aptly the atmosphere of their expression. However, with the majority of the palette comprised of droning yet fragile synthesized atmospherics (in the vein of Broken Social Scene’s first album Feel Good Lost), the album also feels bolstered by human invention. Theirs is a world where melancholy is a man-made construct and they are its prisoners. And, in the very impossibility of a “natural snow building”, the futility of escape becomes palpable.