REVIEW: Snowpoet album launch at St Pancras Old Church

The Snowpoet album launch

(Album launch at St Pancras Old Church, 29th January 2016. Review by Adam Tait)

Many performers would undoubtedly insist St Pancras Old Church is the ideal setting for their music. The idiosyncrasies of the acoustics are one thing, but the magnitude of the atmosphere is as much of a boon as anything else. The ageing religious images decorating the walls make for a sense of reverence. There’s an eerie stillness to the place, an instant feeling of quiet introspection.

Few acts or pieces of music are could be more perfectly matched with the venue, though, than Snowpoet and their self-­titled debut album. Their music wonderfully accompanies the sort of inward­facing consideration the space encourages. Lauren Kinsella’s lyrics dance around the metaphysical and ontological pondering found woven throughout religious thinking.

Opening with the charming, idyllic Mermaid, Snowpoet patiently, intricately apply intertwining layers of music until their sound fills the space. Kinsella’s voice resonating wonderfully, the band ease the audience into the performance before a change of tempo makes it irresistibly compelling.
In A Quiet Space provides and early highlight. The gently unfurling lyrics are strikingly cathartic, the ebb and flow of the music mesmeric. Bjork’s influence on the band is immediately and unavoidably clear, whispered words teasing at the edges of the music. But the clarity of the keys over the shuffling rhythm frames Kinsella’s murmurings artfully, enchanting the crowd with the spaces between sounds.

Admittedly the band revisit this sonic approach several times, most notably perhaps on Poetry Of Stillness, and the similarities to Bjork becomes a little too apparent at points. But the intrigue of Snowpoet lies in their fantastic blend of influences and inspiration. At times they allow a jazzy swing to take hold of the music, letting it dance across the audience. At others spiral ling loops inject an electronic urgency to the warm folk tones with hypnotic effect. One moment an earthy sparsity controls the music, the next Josh Arcoleo's sax adds a blaring vibrancy.

Glad To Have Lost swells wonderfully over Nick Costley-White's twinkling picked guitar notes. The spoken word utterances of Butterflies, the title track from 2014’s EP (see interview with Chris Hyson below), are riveting. Waves is soothingly introspective and considered. Throughout, Kinsella’s lyrics ponder obtuse questions of life, of finding a place in existence, conjuring stark images with their narratives. And the impact of these words is magnified by the venue’s serenity, the stillness of the atmosphere the perfect canvas for Snowpoet’s music.

Every second of the show is beautifully thoughtful, a carefully constructed calmness holding everything together.

The space gives the music an added gravitas. The music enhances the reverential impact of the building. In both style and substance, this band with this music in this place could not be a better match.

Adam Tait is a music journalist and digital campaign manager, previously for Gigwise and The 405 among others

Snowpoet's album is on Two Rivers Records

LINK: Interview with Chris Hyson about Snowpoet from June 2014

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