Angel Snow presents a ‘listen in one sitting’ challenge with an intimate and revealing and set of songs.
Release date: 23rd July 2021
There was once a pop/rock star who released an album called Low. It was back in 1977 and if you didn’t know it was Mr Bowie and it was also a belter. The first of the Berlin Trilogy. Should we compare the two just because of the titles? Probably not so excuse the thinking aloud. Yet hold the thought, as both have a strong atmospheric presence.
We were knocked out by the October Skies single and now the chance to experience the full album is too good to pass up. Especially considering the concept which is intended, and indeed encouraged to be heard in one sitting. To set the scene, the songs chart the dissolution of an intensely co-dependent and unhealthy relationship.
The first six tracks represent anger, memories (both good and bad), and despair. Tracks 7-11 represent the transition from despair to healing – the awakening. Overall, Low is a trip through the difficult processes of self-examination, reflection, forgiveness, and acceptance. Quite cleverly, the record begins and ends with the title track performed in two very different ways. The intention is to represent the two ways of experiencing the same events. The opening version is heavy – filled with anger, despair, and bitterness while the other is much lighter – filled with hope, awareness, and forgiveness.
Perhaps the biggest compliment we can pay Low is by saying it’s an album reminiscent of one of our albums of 2020 – A.A.Williams’ outstanding Forever Blue. The first stab at the title track opens with the warm acoustic vibe interrupted by some fizzing electric lines and leaving us with the melancholy thought of being taken low and “we’re in the same place again.” The dense and almost overbearing ambience opens to a stark nakedness – the song titles (Get Me Out, I Miss You) revealing just the tip of the iceberg of the feelings and emotions of the characters.
The cover of Peter Gabriel’s Here Comes The Flood is masterful. It’s stripped back in the same way that the master does it best rather than the original big production number. The chorus portrays a tired resignation and Angel becomes that stranded starfish with nowhere to hide. It’s also a perfect aperitif to the brooding presence of October Skies. We’re all well versed by now with those old October Skies and can now appreciate its place in the sequencing especially with the segue into the intimate reflections of Handed In My Halo. The message that it’s not too late, you don’t have to… pointing towards a developing self-awareness.
And with that, we’re ready for a halftime orange and a chance to take stock. Yes, the suggestion of ‘listening in one sitting’ is ringing in our ears, but let’s imagine we have to stop to turn over the LP as that first chapter has given plenty over which to ruminate.
Tribal grooves, multi-tracked voices and thoughts of “I don’t wanna die without knowing who am I” hint that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The darkness subsiding to be replaced by the strength that comes with hope and new beginnings. The shadow of Low reinforced by the second version, a spectre that could still be nagging away like a devil on the shoulder. It concludes a record that’s packed with striking phrases that will resonate with many of us, perhaps some hitting very close to the bone. An album of maturity expressed with rare insight.
Here’s the video for Handed In My Halo: