Music may be one of if not the most primeval of all art forms. Does it not predate language? Even today, with things like lyrics and moving images added, somehow music reaches right down deep into our reptile brain. It stirs our core. For those interested in the visceral experience of undeath–in terms of role-playing, creating writing, acting, or simply contemplation–the darker music of our own era seems to work best summoning the vampire muse. Little wonder Anne Rice‘s antihero immediately sought to become a rock star! To help those looking for some essence of the vampire, try and look up the gothic quasi-dieselpunk electronic band Snuttock.
Founded in 2003 by Bryan Lee and Christopher Lee Simmonds, the two found an eerie fusion of every growing power in their local scene in Baltimore. Classical music training blended with modern digital magic, bringing a startling (and haunting) reality into our world. Not a place discovered so much as almost (not quite) remembered. Drumming–or the pattern of drumming–echoes time, most obviously in the beat of a heart. Not a heart at rest, nor in fierce activity. Rather this rhythm somehow seems that of a heart worried, not quite frightened–fascinated but in some kind of danger.
Doesn’t that sound like the life (or undeath) of a vampire? To be a lone predator, vastly outnumbered by a heavily armed prey who must never ever suspect you exist. Yet at the same time both modern and antique.
Eventually they started to collaborate with filmmaker Laurie A. Smith, who directed more than a few of their music videos and in the process captured a ‘look’ in complete sync with the band’s signature sound and aesthetics. Like those earlier efforts, the promotions for Endless Rituals give a glimpse into a weirdscape as compelling as a new, unknown, and possibly foreign fairy tale. A haunted place, possibly by a humanity long gone but whose detritus have found their own life somehow. Broken dolls try to make old machines work. Memories of lives that feel familiar echo in the flickering sepia. Hands of wood and plaster, eyeless faces of plastic and no hair. But surely, these are not people. Are they? This is debris, rather than anything sentient or aware or curious. Right?
Endless Rituals is the latest album from Snuttock, their third form Morphius Records. Previous titles suggested much in the same vein. In 2005 was Straightjacket Life, followed in 2008 by Carved and Sutured. Now, with even more experience and a bigger budget behind them the Band gives us a great variety of rhythms and feelings. This album with its eleven tracks (and a bonus four unavailable for digital download, only found on CD) has more of an upbeat or driving feel, as if we aren’t so much walking through Snuttock’s secondary cosmos as running, racing even. As if we search for something. Or flee from it.
A personal favorite is “Catharsis” in which filmmaker Smith’s music video lets us wander ever deeper inside what seems to be a room part of the Snuttockspace. Mia Regalado meanwhile gets the credit for the four minute Album Commercial now doing the rounds—complete with all signature details one comes to expect after discovering Snuttock for a time. The sepia. The artificial people (dolls, mannequins, etc.). Machines of all kinds designed to make sound or perhaps convey it would be the better phrasing. Even examples of discordance—visual, aural, emotional as well—somehow merge and bleed into a harmony. Here is not a world at peace. Not really. It seems almost to be dead, but again one cannot help but note signs of life amid inanimate objects. In much the same way, the machines that create this music have voices, even words. Background noises form part of the ambiance of tune and tone. What follows fugues together. Into itself.
The digital album emerged in June, 2013 but the special bonus CD with those extra tracks became available March, 2014. You can find out more by checking out their website at www.snuttock.com .