Snares of Sixes – MoonBladder Review

Jason William Walton. By my count,1 this guy has been a part, or founder, of at least 24 bands, collaborations and projects. Most notably, of course, as bassist (and sometimes songwriter) for the much-missed Agalloch. Other entries in Walton’s bio include folk-doom outfit Dolven, the bonkers electronic oompah of Especially Likely Sloth and progressive melodeath band Sculptured. Walton strides across broad musical lands, arriving at Snares of Sixes, an experimental collective ‘assembled, arranged and constructed’ by him but, on MoonBladder, featuring another 12 contributors, including members of Sculptured, Agalloch and Dreadnought. I like to try and mix up the genres that I review, looking for things that challenge me and my tastes. Sometimes this works out and sometimes it doesn’t but did I have any idea what I was letting myself in for with Snares of Sixes?

Well, to be fair, it was flagged as a single 29-minute composition, so I should have had some idea.2 Still, what awaited me on MoonBladder would have been hard to describe in a pithy one-liner and remains so some ten listens in. It consists, in the main, of burbling static, tittering electronics and stumbling percussion, paired with half-heard broadcasts, not dissimilar to the “SGNL” interruptions on ISISCelestial. At times, Snares of Sixes appears to be building patterns and rhythms in the percussion but, more markedly, in the synths, which threaten, at any moment, to erupt into something resembling music. This reaches its peak at about the 20-minute mark where a hypnotic beat organically develops, initially appearing looped but, in fact, subtly evolving over several minutes before crumbling away, as if it losing its grip and drifting off on the breeze.

Losing one’s grip may be the best way to succinctly describe MoonBladder, which reminds me of Manes. On a cocktail of ketamine and anti-psychotics. The sheer number of elements that ebb and flow across this largely instrumental composition give the distinct impression of disordered thoughts achieving moments of almost-clarity before falling off again into gentle, chaotic background noise. At the 27-minute mark, it feels as though a revelation is reached, as out of the morass a fragile male voice soars, set against background chanting echoes, conveying superbly a sense of helpless yearning. This is then choked off into stuttering static, only to reappear in echoed refractions of what was heard moments before.

MoonBladder is Snares of Sixes’ second outing, following 2017’s EP Yeast Mother: An Electroacoustic Mass. An equally challenging, but very different, listening experience, Yeast Mother channels the progressive insanity of King Crimson through a black metal-tinted lens, while leaning hard into samples and electronica that border on Aphex Twin. For all its complexity, Yeast Mother is significantly easier to get a handle on than successor piece, MoonBladder. I said above that Walton is credited as having ‘constructed’ this and that feels like the most appropriate way to put it, albeit the architect has some serious questions to answer (and should probably be made to undertake some sort of intensive psychological evaluation). There are moments when I wonder how on earth 13 people could have been required to put together MoonBladder and others where the collective nature of Snares of Sixes’ endeavor is crystal clear. Given the swirling mix of electronics and synths, largely eschewing traditional instrumentation, the production is harder to comment on, though I will say that the whole has an unsettling quality to it that is driven as much by harsh edges to the sound, as it by the sounds themselves. In that sense, I guess this is a success.

When I began my journey with MoonBladder, I asked AMG Management what the policy was on turning in single paragraph reviews, followed by a score of “?!/5.0.” “Say more things!” was the answer I got, so here you go, I hope you’re fucking happy Management. I’ve said lots of stuff —arguably too much stuff— none of which has helped me in the slightest to actually work out what I think of Snares of Sixes, nor to assign a score to MoonBladder. If one has the time, on an inter-city train (where I currently find myself) for example, to really shut out the distractions and stare vacantly out the window, allowing MoonBladder to swirl and crackle around you, there is a lot to appreciate, if not exactly ‘like.’ Even across its limited 29 minutes, however, I can’t help but feel there is a lot of empty space that could have either been cut or fleshed out more fully, without compromising what I think is Walton’s vision.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nefarious Industries and Transcending Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 1st, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Alright, by me counting entries on Metal Archives. Same same.
  2. But then one of my favorite things from 2020 2019 was a single 24 minute track from French oddity Moonworshipper, so I could hope.
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