|Alec ‘Zoon van' Snook fitted the Cookshop model perfectly with 2008’s Interviews and Interludes EP, electronica prompting portmanteaus of oddtronica and eccentronica that in the vein of the ‘Shop’s Jonathan Krisp as well as the trinity of Funki Porcini, Fila Brazillia, Luke Vibert and Mr Scruff, was happy go lucky with a daft left-handed reach for dust-gathering instruments. Without overstating the Zoon’s lunacy, never found far from a secret drawer full of knick-knacks, thimbles, needle and thread etc, his chillout sometimes bears a crowbar’s touch, awakening a serious musician embracing the cloak of solitude. |
The Bristolian’s opus is a mostly uplifting composition, added to/alienated by the electro stings of Cuckoo, almost Lorn/Mux Mool etc like in its hip-hop as RPG click and reload, that may throw followers off the scent early doors. Certainly long term it’s conspicuous by its unrelated linkage to the rest of the LP, though it’s less of a surprise when Pearl St Mess suddenly develops a drum & bass habit. At his most playful, ZvS, who been supporting Daedelus, Gold Panda and Fujiya & Miyagi, does music box funk on Lomograph, the rotating centrepiece being a bass-playing hepcat instead of a ballerina, with shake rattle and roll percussion made out of thingumyjigs and dooburywotsits. School band folk charmers Plainsong and The Cross I’d Bear uphold the rustic fancies as Snook crowns himself king of quaint countryside fantasies out of layers of bric a brac, and acoustic pixie dust sprinkler Sculptress auditions for the part of Chigley’s troubadour laureate, developing into a rousing march, conducting an orchestra instructed to bring their own tools out back into the woodshed.
The piano dirge Two Knives shows that when the wonder wears off, van Snook is a hard character to approach when in such a despondent mood, though you do question why such differing curveballs take their place. To be fair this has much more in common with the rest of the album than the aforementioned maze runner Cuckoo, and his move into starker reality from rose-tinted views does twist the plot away from his competition. Either ZvS has an unedifying secret, or is trying to say life’s pleasures should be enjoyed while they can, as cruelty and damnation is always playing a waiting game of trip-up from outside of the dominant jolliness. It isn’t long before Snook has re-fixed his mask and re-mounted the steed of optimism with the healing space spiral Half Term, beats puncturing the ambience like nails being rapidly hammered coffin-wards. The same style of piston punch-ins provide clockwork to the intriguing Ee’m Yorn, the line between chillout and suspicion disappearing altogether with tantalising synth curvatures blowing through otherworldly texturing. The sugar chimes of Le Fin have the same wide-eyed innocence as Nowhere Man’s classic Slumbering Seahorse Serenade, ZvS sneaking in a jazz hands brass band to conclude with for his RDA of good humour from the left.
Amongst the Mad Dogs and Englishman feel, with the psychosis made very real amongst the jolly hockey-sticking, ZvS never forces the issue, fluently seeing where track’s natural instincts take them, collecting fares for magical mystery tours but letting passengers plot their own destinations as either a bit of fluff and fun, a dedicated chillout record or a vividly imagined storyteller, falling from the nutty tree and daintily nailing the landing via a shifty somersault. - Data Transmission