Caramel Snow appears on labels such as Shiny Happy Records, Magic Rub Cassettes, Jigsaw Records, as well as Bandcamp and iTunes have released their 8-track “Befallen” album, in June this year. The album is a collection of Dreampop/Shoegaze tracks written and recorded between 2009 and 2015. Caramel Snow’s influences are derived from early David Bowie, Beatles (*MMTour), Pet Sounds, él Records, My Bloody Valentine and Sarah Records.
It is not a ‘revelation’, unless the ‘revelation’ is that something can be great and totally unassuming, too. A 5 star record should be a record in which every song is great, and which will sound just as good ten years from now. It needn’t change the world at all – it just needs to be great in and of itself. With ““Befallen”, Caramel Snow achieves just that: a timeless, fresh-sounding album of stripped-down rock songs which pay homage to the past without being too reverential, while maintaining a sound which is neither retro nor hyper-fashionable…or is it both?
The multi-layered aspect of the instrumentation seems to connote much, much more than is actually there, and there is plenty going within each song as the reverberated vocals, guitar, bass, and drum arrangements leave room for the odd sound and studio effect to pop-in for added color. Caramel Snow seems to station on the side of indie coolness. The opening track Laboratory Glassware* which has an emotional openness to its melody and lyrics, quickly plays testimony to how much is actually going on in Caramel Snow’s songs. Play this song through and see how many replays you need, to perfectly identify all the instrumental interludes contained therein.
“Befallen” defines the Dreampop, Shoegaze and even the Lo-Fi categories. For anyone who loves these genres this album could end up on their top 10 or desert island lists – and generally, for anyone else, it is one of those albums people either love, hate, or have never heard. There certainly is plenty ‘wall of sound’, reverbed vocals, and smooth melodies, which are appreciated more with multiple listens. There is plenty of banging drum rhythms too. How could you possibly ignore the strong beats on Whitest Night, Pharmacy* and Hailong Company*?
It is hard to stand out in a crowded category of Shoegaze and the like, but Caramel Snow keeps his head above the masses comfortably with this release. The many enjoyable Shoegaze bands from past to present have taught us how to appreciate the ‘unconventional’ sonic tapestries of this genre. Caramel Snow builds within those soundscapes, using music which at times is complex, ambient, psychedelic and a tapestry of textures that span the aural senses from dark to light.
The intelligently crafted “Befallen” pushes the envelopment in sound exquisitely further, without breaking the fragile, harried balance of noise and musicality that determines this genre.