Snuttock Straight Jacket Life
By Marcus Pan
As indie as
possible, says Bryan Lee, sole member of Snuttock. Him and an engineer is
all it took to put Straight Jacket Life together. Unsullied by the
too many cooks analogy, Lee has one guest musician on the
Straight Jacket Life release, Christopher Lee, and an engineer, C. Lee
Simmonds, and that covers all the involved folks. The mix is clean, well
thought out and doesnt suffer from an over-barrage of different
peoples different sounds.
Snuttock, in a weird way, reminds me of China Doll. A bit
tongue in cheek, pop-centric styled but with a latticework of darker
intentions. Like You, which kicks off Straight Jacket Life, has a
weirdness about it. A lament about being different than anyone else a
common theme, yes, but treated in a tongue in cheek, interesting and strange
manner that I have to appreciate it. Life on the other hand takes a more
techno track but keeps it downplayed and subdued. Wander is an ambient
instrumental stuck in between Life and Why.
I dig Why for its smooth nature and bright sound.
Reminiscent of work by I, Synthesist or Esion, Why is a synthpop trip
through a field of fun. But it ends quickly and leaves us in the slightly
darker Spiders, but the flow of the music between the two tracks is
virtually perfect as Whys X-laden romp spills you into the
acid-laced Spiders. I gets more stompier with an industrial flavor
without the overbearing deluge typical of the style.
Empty is nearly another instrumental; spooky pianos
and strings melding together to create an interesting dark atmosphere following
the previous brighter tracks on Straight Jacket Life. Bryan will
occasionally show up to complain about times like these. A
surprising low key guitar shows up in Lifeless taking the album in a
darker, newer and just as interesting direction. The lyrics here can use a bit
of work though, being a bit underachieving.
Everybody gets weird with strange synthetics and an
unpredictable vocal score. I got worried at the opening of What as a
common-beat stock drum machine starts clipping away. The mixed in guitars and
synthetics do a good job of interesting-it-up somewhat. Not the best track on
Straight Jacket Life, but still decent underachieving lyrics
again and the stock beat do combine to make it a little blasé.
I dig this CD for its panache, humor and clean style.
Unafraid to borrow effective tricks from pop radio and infusing it into a
darker elemental groove, Lees Snuttock project has dropped a good release
on my desk. Very well produced, great engineering and solid mixing and Bryan
doesnt delve too deeply into the press all the buttons
syndrome of a one-man electronica outfit. Just enough weird and just enough
groove makes Straight Jacket Life both fun and unusual.
PO Box 9717, Baltimore, MD, 21284-9717, USA
 China Dolls Pop Noir was
reviewed in Legends #105.
 His Avalanche album was
reviewed in Legends #147.
 Esions En Route was
written up in Legends #102.