Review: Snek Trio – Battement Développé (Lurker Bias, Aug 23)

Leading the charge amidst Snek Trio’s carefully constructed textural grooves on Battement Développé are Janna Lee’s restless, wide-ranging vocalizations, which climb from throaty gurgles to harrowing wordless wails. Her contributions provide a powerful element of motion for the more reserved, almost tribal undercurrents conjured by Reid Karris’s prepared guitars and Erik Sowa’s percussion. The loose freedom of the rhythmic improvisations, the mysterious, ritualistic atmosphere evoked by the vocals and scratching guitars; it’s hard not to be reminded of the No-Neck Blues Band, which I believe is one of the most meaningful compliments I can bestow. But on Snek Trio’s debut studio release the musicians aren’t content to remain in one place for long, and the ten short pieces demonstrate the large variety of styles that can be reached using their minimal approach. Moving past the dark, quiet reticence of tracks like “Ouvert” and “Raccourci,” “Manèges” and “Cabriole” occupy a more jazz-influenced realm, with escalating guitar chaos tempered by whimsical hi-hat flurries and erratic snare rolls—though any semblance of conventionality this might introduce is shattered by the increasing insanity of the vocals—and “Gargouillade” even entertains a head-bobbing krautrock groove. Battement Développé acts as an excellent template for this ensemble to explore new possibilities, though I’d love to see what they could do with a long form approach.