Snowblink

Snowblink - Pool - Joel Gibb

 

Snowblink is a lush folk/pop duo from Toronto, Canada and Los Angeles, CA featuring Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman. The duo has released two critically acclaimed records on Fire and Arts & Crafts.

Snowblink has toured extensively through North America and Europe, both as a headliner and as support for Feist, Jeff Tweedy, Bahamas, Timber Timbre, and Owen Pallett. In 2012, Snowblink was invited by Leslie Feist to join her band at the Polaris Prize gala. The evening resulted in the creation of the seven-headed collaborative superband, Hydra, which went on to tour summer festivals in 2014. The band performs songs from the Feist, Snowblink and AroarA catalog.

In addition to featured soundtrack contributions (NPR’s Radiolab, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors (Tribeca Film Festival), The National Parks Project (NFB), Al Purdy Was Here (TIFF)), 2014 saw Gesundheit featured alongside Brian Eno on Owen Pallett’s In Conflict, and Zammuto’s (formerly The Books) Anchor as vocalist and co-writer. She also staged Returning Current, a collaboration with acoustic biologist Katy Payne (The Song of the Humpback Whale), which assembled choirs in different cities in North America to apprentice themselves to the musicality of Humpback Whales and African Elephants.

Gesundheit has collaborated with and/or contributed to recordings by Ed Droste, Brendan Canning, Bahamas, MGMT, Thom Gill, Nat Baldwin (The Dirty Projectors), Frank Lyon, and Tony Dekker, and is the recipient of numerous grants from Factor and the Toronto, Ontario, and Canada Councils for the Arts. Snowblink is a featured collaborator on astronaut Chris Hadfield’s forthcoming LP (2015 Warner Brothers), the first record ever to be recorded in space.

Snowblink will be releasing Returning Current with Outside Music in the spring of 2016.

colors & textures

Gesundheit has described her songs and approach as non-denominational devotional pop, defining devotion as “any attempt to deepen our deep ends.”

Moments before the onslaught of social media, Gesundheit, stationed in Montreal’s plateau mile-end neighborhood for a summer, slipped her four- track homemade home-burned CD under Goldman’s apartment door, sparking an indisputable and enduring musical chemistry and collaboration that has now, in various iterations, spanned a decade.

Looking to the emotional intelligence of heavyweights like Nina Simone, PJ Harvey, or Violeta Parra, or poets Anne Carson and Fanny Howe, while adhering to the optimistic and playful presentation of ’80’s French pop duo Elie & Jacno, Snowblink manages a courageous strangeness, otherness, an optimal mismatch, like a male/female duo Franco Battiato.

Drawing from her background in old-school Jewish Cantorial repertoire, and her training in classical South Indian vocal music, Gesundheit’s voice moves as deftly, fluently, and potently as flamenco great Lole Montoya, but with a deceptively tender presentation. She shifts with surgical precision between unaffected soprano tones and unapologetic animalistic expressions, with the seriousness and laser vocal clarity one might expect to find in the haunted voices of Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares.

Snowblink is sensual, not sterile, elegantly imperfect, Wabi Sabi. Gesundheit’s empathic, mesmeric lyrics, when coupled with Goldman’s patient and narcotic arranging and production style, establish a genuine intimacy without telling us what to feel.

about the record

Returning Current

Snowblink’s newest collection of songs is an unflinching study of human relationships – to self, to other, and toOther, and to the threat or actuality of losing those unrepeatable prizes. At the outset of the recording process, Gesundheit made a text version of a “mood board” to portray the sensations she wished to evoke in the production of the album. The musicians, producers, and engineers were faced with the task of sonically approximating:

santa fe / arizona / palm springs /
sunset over a mesa /
either sunburst and pastel or loud crashing flash floods and lightning /
calypso disco / lots of space with bursts or ripples of sound /
sauna

Practically, this ambition meant that the band approached each song by any means necessary – here a full band live off the floor in a winter cabin, here a painstaking half-year-long process of revision, here a drum sample from years ago mixed with dozens of layers of analog synths and vocals. In sculpting the singular sound of Returning Current, no process was out of bounds – the band made themselves equally at home with a bevy of acoustic instruments, analog processes, or sample-based in-the-box production choices. By any means necessary.

What results is “mastery at its liquidiest” (Feist in a personal letter to the band), a collection of songs that find the speaker reporting, in the stark, James Blake-esque ballad Second Sight, that “the sky was kneeling on my back to pray,” or elucidating the slipperiness of desire, as in Returning Current:

Like a monk or a mystic
quiet on the outside
northern lights colluding on the inside
The air around me humid as Hawaii
with my evaporated desire

These are private songs, domestic songs, songs to be absorbed over time – unhurried, biological time, the passage of which helps us to survive ourselves.