- The Melbourne duo deliver a sublime and surreal LP for The Trilogy Tapes.
- Vanguard musicians have long been fascinated with the liminal state. From Richard D. James' famous experiments with lucid dreaming to the "hypnagogic pop" movement of the late 2000s, the half-conscious zone has often been seen as a portal to unhinged creativity. Enter CS + Kreme, a Melbourne duo who have released a few low-key but excellent singles of heavy-lidded pop for the likes of Total Stasis and The Trilogy Tapes. On their debut double-LP, Snoopy, Conrad Standish and Sam Karmel make good on the promise of those early records. Across eight circuitous tracks, they transcend stylish, slo-mo electronic post-punk and arrive in an as-yet-unexplored territory with rules dictated only by their own dream logic.
On the opening track, "Saint," Standish seems conscious but not quite awake. Over a watery loop, he mutters nonsensical but ominous lines: "Where did Egypt go / Where did ecstasy go / Where did bicycles go." Up until this point, CS + Kreme has felt like the antisocial little brother band to HTRK (Standish is married to Jonnine from that duo; she and her bandmate Nigel Yang both have cameos on Snoopy). From the album's opening track, however, the duo heads thrillingly off-piste, pinwheeling into an orchestral illbient groove. The composer James Rushford plays portative organ on two tracks, the medieval-style dirge "Faun House" and "Blue Flu." The album goes on to rely on synths and a chamber quartet of queasy woodwinds ("The Whale's Tail") and horns ("Time Is A Bozo").
Snoopy's centerpiece, "Blue Flu," is worthy of its own review. Vocally, Standish is evocative and impenetrable. He sings, "Shine a light in every corner / shine a light in every crack / shine a light in every swimming pool," accompanied by a slowed-down version of the same line in a sort of disorienting, lysergic round. While this is happening, abstract winds blow in the background, along with subtle crinkling sounds and Rushford's pipe organ. Then the beat drops, launching an eight-minute journey that sounds like what would have happened if Nico's Desertshore had been recorded at Skiz Fernando's WordSound studios.
Similarly unlikely combinations emerge throughout Snoopy, feeling strange but never forced, like when you go to the zoo with your deceased aunt and your childhood best friend in a dream. "Slug" introduces dubstep influences into the CS + Kreme sound world. "The Whale's Tail" balances mannered oboe with a wild free jazz sax. Throughout the record, CS + Kreme kicks up a mood of foreboding ennui, which makes the sweeping, cinematic conclusion, "Mount Warning," feel like the clouds have parted. The closer sees CS + Kreme embracing their sentimental side, riding off into a pink, orange and purple sunset that's too vibrant to be real.
02. Faun House
03. Blue Flu
04. The Whale's Tail
05. Pussywhistle Tea
06. Time Is A Bozo
08. Mount Warning