David Sheppard first conceived Snow Palms as a vehicle for music played on mallet instruments, devices that have featured intermittently across almost two decades-worth of the multi-instrumentalist’s miscellaneous collaborative projects that include State River Widening, Ellis Island Sound, The Wisdom of Harry and Phelan-Sheppard.
Snow Palms’ 2012 debut album 'Intervals' won a sheaf of approving notices for its ineffably cinematic blend of polyrhythmic percussion and richly melodic orchestration. Two years in the making, follow-up 'Origin and Echo' builds on the foundations of its predecessor, with a heavy quotient of metallophones, glockenspiels and marimbas at its core, but largely eschews the latter’s chamber arrangements in favour of soaring synth-scapes and a palette of spectral ambient and electronic textures.
Two years in the making, 'Origin and Echo' builds on the foundations of its predecessor, 'Intervals' with a heavy quotient of metallophones, glockenspiels and marimbas at its core, but largely eschews the latter’s chamber arrangements in favour of soaring synth-scapes and a palette of spectral ambient and electronic textures.
Despite that, 'Origin and Echo' is a more performative record than was Intervals, its eleven organic, kinetic pieces meticulously constructed by David Sheppard from initial percussive skeletons largely essayed instinctively, in free time, without click-tracks and with almost no guitar. The album is loosely predicated on themes of mirroring and rebounding, whether physical or metaphorical, inspired by everything from the gravity-defying parabolas of space flight to patterns of human migration and feelings of déjà vu summoned by nostalgic journeys.
'Intervals' is a mellifluous, chiming sound-world, ineffably marrying liquid gamelan soundscapes with English orchestral pastoralism (‘Atoll’, ‘White Sea’), Krzysztof Komeda-esque soundtrack mystery (‘Snow Light’, ‘Swimming Figures’, ‘In Camera’), beguiling, Yann Tiersen-like themes (‘Premonition’, ‘Blue Yonder’) and playful woodwind/strings/percussion face-offs infused with the spirit of Moondog (‘Motion Capture’, ‘Delta Switching’). Echoes of Terry Riley’s minimalist opus In C flicker amid the pulsing keyboards and interleaved raindrop xylophones of ‘Index of Rivers’ while the teeming, pointillist coda of ‘Light Museum’ nods to polymeter mallet master Steve Reich.