There’s an extremely interesting discourse between ambient, jazz, and electronica going on in the heady music of Cagayan De Oro-based bedroom producer and solo artist Snow Fox Apprentice. If these genres were people and they all let their hair down at a bar, shared a few beers, and later on went back to someone’s apartment for some tipsy intercourse, then I highly suspect this is the sweet, sweet impromptu jam they’d make. A smooth and buttery doozy of a one night stand. But more than that, this impressive puree of styles that might be a catastrophic jumble of instrumental dub proceedings just plain works under Snow Fox Apprentice’s adept hands.
No joke, I have now played the all-instrumental EP “Home” a dozen times this week and my ears still haven’t gotten tired of going through the whole damn six tracks in full. Which is to say that Harries De Los Angeles, the man behind the pads and knobs and samples that is Snow Fox Apprentice, is such a dark horse. De Los Angeles, also half of the ambient project Plus Minus Equals Riot, named his solo persona after his favorite Port Blue song "Snow Fox on Glacier Coast." He added Apprentice “because I thought it sounded cool at first, but eventually it made me realize that ‘apprentice’ is actually me conveying my feelings and sentiments to the world. The 'master' is my experiences.”
Sure there’s Haruka Nakamura, Port Blue, and Sigur Rós in his unique sound. De Los Angeles obfuscates none of his influences, paying them open homage. More succinctly, there’s clear mastery of how jazz and ambient can beautifully pollinate or mutate into something grotesque, ditto for electro and shoegaze getting hitched or just swapping spit. Snow Fox Apprentice may have taken notes from Owl City’s Adam Young and his ambient/electronic side-project on how to curate and excise diverse subjects, but orchestrating these elements into a thing of beauty is something he’s worked out on his own.
On the moody “Oran” with its synth whispers and groovy understated drums, opening the album like a jubilant come-hither SFA establishes that cozy and comforting feeling of being right where you want to be, a pure sonic metaphor for domestic joy.
Take the mesmerizing “Lightsleeper,” the aural equivalent of a time lapse effect, amber and viridian lights held by many Picassoes and Pollocks playfully twirling and tracing lines against velvet night. A song hurtling through a cinematic synth and keyboard riff that’s perfect embodiment of that fizzy, fuzzy state between insomnia and near-REM. That moment of dozing to an epic long dream then getting startled, realizing only 10 minutes had elapsed? This is the soundtrack to that fugue state. The track was composed within a few intense hours after the artist talked to his friend about her experiences of being easily awakened. Sleep apnea sufferers, this is your song.
“Waltz for Faye” is so far my favorite. There’s an understated drum line that evokes a noir environment with cigarette smoke and sexy curves hinted at in the lilting horns that gives me shivers. The characters are on some crowded city street where neon signs and automobile lights float like petals on a wet, black bough. It’s as if Ezra Pound had been dropped somewhere between a Chandler or Pratchett milieu. De Los Angeles wrote it when he heard the news that Yoko Kanno would be the composer for the upcoming “Cowboy Bebop” Netflix adaptation.
De Los Angeles, who lives in Misamis Oriental, may have composed this EP of sleepwalks and moody landscapes while stuck at home during COVID-19 lockdown, but the tracks still manage to conjure up both hopefulness and serenity as a reward for successful wintering, however forced.
“It was quite challenging at first, because most of the time I get inspiration from observing people and happenings,” said De Los Angeles. “But this time I only had the internet to help me and thankfully, I still got to talk to a lot of people online and learned a lot from their experiences which led me to write most of the tracks on the EP.”
This is such a jewel of an album that it deserves a close listening on headphones. De Los Angeles still a young man, still someone coming into the fruition of his creativity that the wait for a full length record will be worth our patience.
“Home” is available for digital purchase on Bandcamp.