Following our first concerts with in-person audiences for 2021, Turner Sims Voluntary Student Writer Olivia Gabriel shares her experience of Snowpoet…
Following the end to a difficult year of COVID lockdowns and academic deadlines, I was very excited to hear that Turner Sims was finally opening its doors again for a live concert of the band Snowpoet. While their musical style has been described as ‘modern folk, sung poetry and ambient electronica’, listening to them perform onstage, I found them quite difficult to define. The music took influence from various musical genres including jazz and folk, creating an effect that seemed to transcend genre altogether, at times reminding me a little of Miles Davis’ late experimental style. The contrasting but complementary timbres of the voice, saxophone, violin, drum, piano, and guitar were layered very effectively to create an ethereal soundworld that was powerful despite its gentle tone.
A significant element of Snowpoet’s music was their creative use of sound, such as through incorporation of technology into the live performance. With a laptop on the piano and a table of controls next to singer Lauren Kinsella, they brought synth and heavy reverb to the music, producing a sort of dreamlike atmosphere. This effect was also created through Kinsella’s non-verbal vocalisations, that challenged conventions of how voice is used in music and contributed unique and interesting sounds to the texture. I really enjoyed listening to how Snowpoet played with sound, allowing me to consider the process of music-making in a different way to what I’m used to as a classical musician. I also liked that the style varied between songs, from the jazzy upbeat feel of Roots, complete with saxophone solo, to the more gentle, reflective tone of Sky Thinking, with light and soothing instrumentation that evoked the themes of sea and wind referenced in the lyrics.
A notable point of the concert was the audience’s cheer when Kinsella said ‘Welcome to Turner Sims’, and it was clear that the experience of live music had been sorely missed over the long year of COVID restrictions. She explained that, for her as a performer, a key aspect of a concert is the ability to gauge the audience’s response through their facial expressions, which is unfortunately very difficult to do through face masks. While we’ve all missed live music, Snowpoet’s concert emphasised just how important these events are to both audiences and artists – it’s great that Turner Sims has been able to host live music again, and I look forward to the day we can finally experience it in the same way we enjoyed pre-COVID.