- As Throwing Snow, Ross Tones has been putting out sombre UK bass music for the better part of a decade, while also running the fantastically varied label A Future Without. 2013 saw him release an album on Houndstooth with Hannah Cartwright, AKA Augustus Ghost, under the name Snow Ghosts. His time working with Cartwright seems to have made an impression on him—Mosaic, his latest LP, relies heavily on collaborations, primarily with female vocalists. But where on A Small Murmuration the vocals were used to great emotional effect, on Mosaic they can feel a little ham-fisted.
This isn't to say that the singers here are performing badly—just the opposite, in fact. Each one is haunting, even if they do stick to a delicate, breathy template. The production behind the tracks is impressive, an interesting mix of heavy UK bass, scattered drum hits and post-rock textures. Lead single "The Tempest" is a great example, with its guitars fading in and out of focus behind the heavily swung bass drum. But when the two are combined you can feel it reaching for your heartstrings in a way that feels a bit obvious. Perhaps it's the crushing bass-weight that Tones so often reverts to, drowning out everything else in the process. You get the impression that the album might be more successful if these two elements weren't always jostling for your attention.
When Tones isn't going for such an overblown effect, the album is much more successful. "All The Lights" sees the tempo cranked up to 160, and while it still works in some minor chords and a soul vocal, it's backbone is a jacking drum pattern that flirts with juke and jungle without ever descending into a full-on assault. "Saltare (Parts 1 & 2)," the album's closing number, is a classic house beat with a melody that feels a little like The Field. The mournful chimes of "Linguis," coupled with its lurching bassline, make for the album's high point. These songs still aim to elicit an emotion from you, and they're still not particularly subtle. The difference is you don't feel like it's being shoved down your throat.
02. The Tempest feat. Adda Kaleh
03. Hypnotise feat. Kid A
05. As You Fall feat. Py
07. The Void feat. Jassy Grez
08. Maera feat. Adda Kaleh
09. All The Lights feat. Russell Morgan
10. Draugr feat. KNOX
11. Saltare (Parts 1 & 2)