If I said someone was making an album about the hunt for the abominable snow man and asked you to choose the artist, there would be very few candidates for you to guess from
Basically, Bjork or Kate Bush
If you guessed Kate Bush you win nothing but the satisfaction of being right.
But at least now you are aware of this strange and puzzling work.
I have to say on first listen ‘50 Words for Snow’ passed me by. Outside of ‘Wild Man’ there seemed no obvious tunes and with some tracks lasting a wapping 13 minutes, that’s a long time to wait without a melody
However, as I put in the effort and listened to it a couple of times a day over a long weekend it began to get under my skin like a very pleasant kind of frostbite.
At points it can get a bit show tune for my taste. Several times during the epic ‘Misty and the duet ‘Snowed in at Wheeler street’ I imagined a Broadway musical replete with elaborate arctic stage set. But maybe that’s just me.
In a way however this is the very strength of the album. It takes risk and does things no one else would do. How many other art rock artists would choose to do a duet for Elton John for instance? Or get the actor Stephen Fry to read out the names of different kinds of snow?
It’s also interesting that this is another highly ambitious concept album from a female artist. Earlier this year PJ Harvey treated us to an anti-war epic ‘Let England Shake’ and recently Bjork released the pioneering ‘Biophilia’.
Consequently, I hereby pronounce 2011 the year of the female concept album.