Every now and then, a full-length LP/CD comes along that stops you dead in your tracks. Snowcap Menace is unmistakably one such album.
The brainchild of Australian folk-rock husband & wife duo, Jeff Lang and Alison Ferrier, Snowcap Menace is a virtual cornucopia of the pair’s musical influences and varying styles, ranging from blues, ethno-folk and alt-country through to alternative rock…..and while this may sound like utter musical confusion, it all blends rather seamlessly together to form an aural experience demanding to be heard and ultimately, enjoyed.
Triple ARIA award-winning Jeff Lang is one of Australia’s premier guitar players with 17 studio albums to his name, while Alison Ferrier is a highly respected singer/songwriter/guitarist/violinist with three solo albums to her credit, and currently a member of Opelousas, whose debut album ‘Opelousified’ won Music Victoria’s Best Blues Album of the year in 2019.
The formation of High Ace was borne out of the long periods of isolation and lock-down the duo endured throughout the first two years of the pandemic in their home state of Victoria in Australia. As Jeff said, “We didn’t really think of the process as making an album, at least initially. It was more a case of “Let’s record something, I’m bored!” However, what a grand vision this time allowed them to bring to this marvelous fusion of genres, thus bringing it to its’ masterful fruition.
The couple decided to experiment with a blending of their individual styles and influences, along with an idea borne out of listening to tapes played backwards – this radical change from their usual song-writing processes was prompted when Ali & Jeff accidentally used the ‘reverse’ function on a family video of ‘Happy Birthday’.
From the first few “other-worldly” bars of album opener and lead single Where, Where, Where, the nine tracks on this album take you to places and sounds across many far-away lands and times, while also easing you safely back to more traditional grounds as they wind their way through to the last bars of Miles From Anglesea.
The second single from the album, Leaning On My Sugar takes some of its influence from the Mississippi Hill Blues guitar stylings from Alison’s other project, Opelousas and fuses it with fuzz-drenched slide guitar. all the while showcasing the duo’s complete vocal and musical synergy.
As Night Fell Forever draws you into a haunting, and brooding mood that you might hear on the likes of Ry Cooder’s Paris, Texas album.
Porcelain and Sweet Lafayette take their sounds more directly from traditional African and Oriental music, while Poison Hemlock cooks up a storm, an “in-your-face” track which combines grungier and edgier rock leanings with melodic West African rhythms.
Rattle Your Drums, is the track that puts the icing on what is a fine, fine debut from these gifted musicians. An energetic and pulsating bassline drives this rock-infused folk-ballad which again showcases how these two combine to perfection in bringing these songs to life.
They Live By Ipswich and Miles From Anglesea close out the album by drawing the listener back to a gentler, acoustic sound that underpins delicate oriental overtones and harkens back to the folk music of the British Isles.
To define this album under a single genre would be a futile exercise, as the influences are so many and so varied. The collective experience and musical knowledge of Jeff and Alison is completely laid bare here in a what can only be described as a masterpiece of stylistic mash-up. The collaboration, albeit that it may have initially been borne from boredom, has taken its’ two protagonists to places that neither have been before, but that should prove to be a wonderful well from which to dip into.