It’s been nearly two years since we first interviewed Throwing Snow and discussed the future of his newly-minted Snow Ghosts project alongside friend Hannah Cartwright, aka vocalist Augustus Ghost. On July 8th the duo released their debut album ‘A Small Murmuration’ via the artist focussed Houndstooth label; a culmination of two years worth of ideas and recordings gathered in East London graveyards and other strange places. The result is a stunning (both musically and aesthetically) album that manages to harmonise elements of folk, goth and noise with modern pulses of experimental hip-hop, house and footwork – to chilling effect.
Talking to Hyponik the pair reveal that the album’s artwork (by Matthew Ellwood) and the photography that accompanies each track (see below) are “importnat as they come from Hannah’s relatives and were taken in the 1930s and were used as inspiration.” Another reference point was Mark Z Danielewski’s book ‘House of Leaves’, not only as a piece of ergodic literature that loosely informed the structure of the album but also because the “book leaves you with a slight feeling of dread at all times when you are reading it.”
Following release date, Snow Ghosts kindly break down each song on the album alongside a full stream of the record and the aforementioned Cartwright family photos.
1. ‘The Hunted’
The first track is meant to set the scene for the rest of the album, a little dark and foreboding. Like the rest of the album the lyrics are quite visual and the music tries to mirrors this. ‘The hunter becomes the hunted’, conjures up a feeling of being chased.
2. ‘Murder Cries’
The collective noun for crows is ‘a murder’, the lyrics play on this. The track itself is in two parts, beginning with more folk influences but the second half is very much grounded on the dancefloor. The two parts musically reinforce the ‘fall from grace’ in the vocals.
3. ‘Secret Garden’
This track is very much linked to the photograph of a lady stood in a forested garden. It’s a lot more calming than the first two tracks and was originally an acoustic track before we changed the backing track. The guitar melody was then mirrored in the vocal harmonies over the swung drum beat
The collaboration with Blue Daisy is undoubtedly the darkest on the album, at points it’s pretty terrifying both vocally and in the way we produced it. The photograph is dark and so is the story so it only seemed fitting!
5. ‘Gallows Strung’
For this track we wanted to lighten the mood after the previous track while still keeping the uncomfortable feeling going, and bridge the gap to the next track.
The lyrics play on the parallels between dreams states and death, taking influences from ‘House of Leaves’. It builds but never quite satisfies with a resolution, much like a dream.
6. ‘Time Listens’
This is a song about memories and is written to be almost dreamlike with the vocal and string lines trading places throughout. It’s the mid point in the album and provides the ‘calm before the storm’ which then builds towards ‘And The World Was Gone’
7. ‘Untangle Me’
The lyrics reflect the photograph of the girl in the garden with the vocal harmonies tangling then untangling over the word ‘untangle’. The intro sounds that later become part of the rhythm are actually recordings of an open fire recorded at Ross’ home.
This one is a bit of a contradiction as it’s a love song hidden in something darker. Literally meaning you’d die for someone. The lyrics were inspired by prose by James Lee Burke and mention ‘starlings’ which form murmurations, hence linking in with the title of the album and the artwork. The song is also rooted in England with the reference to Tyburn dock which was used for the execution of criminals in London and close to the present day Marble Arch.
9. ‘The World Was Gone’
This track is the oldest track from the album as it was originally written to play live at Boiler Room after our first EP on Black Acre. It’s the apocalyptic storm to bring the album to a close but ironically it was written on a ukulele called Gladice!
10 ‘In The Deep’
A musical epitaph for the album. It’s about burying a secret and sleeping on it and is meant to leave you with an uncomfortably feeling so the album lingers for a few moments in your mind.
Click here to support the album