Styloid Process EP: A compelling opus that purposefully eschews patterns and formula

Source: AwkwardSD: Listen to this
Date: May 4th, 2022
Author: Ryan Bradford

At the start of the pandemic, I began listening to ambient and instrumental music. I found it was nice to fall asleep with soft, wordless music playing through noise-canceling headphones. It felt wondrous and numbing after a day of reading the news and wallowing in uncertainty and depression. However, since I was completely unfamiliar with the genre (an ambient amateur, if you will), I settled on the most obvious picks: film scores, Nine Inch Nails’ instrumental albums, and even some Moby (shudder).

But the experience gave me a whole new excitement and appreciation for instrumental music, which is why The Snodgrass’s experimental Styloid Process EP has been playing on my headphones for the past week.

Dubbed The Snodgrass’s “second debut album” (the first debut burned up in a hard-drive incident back in 2001, according to Bandcamp), Styloid Process is the direct result of a worldwide pandemic. There’s anxiety, foreboding and a vein of omniscient dread running through the album’s seven tracks, but also a sleek propulsion that keeps the album feeling like a thriller instead of a Lynchian void. These tracks are tonal, modular, and yes, experimental—8-bit sounds abound!—but there’s a cunning pop sensibility that springs up before anything feels too bleak. For example, the deep, thudding low-end of “Lincoln” could be the soundtrack to a spy movie. I mean, cut any montage to the bouncy “Pepitas,” and you’re going to get a great scene.

But, again, Styloid Process is a product of uncertainty and solitude, and it reminds the listener of this during the album’s closer, “What A Time To Be Dead,” a seven-minute descent into warm, cacophonous darkness. It’s a compelling opus that purposely eschews patterns and formula, mirroring what I imagine to be the flashing final thoughts of a mind shutting down. And, not to sound weird or anything, but it’s an enjoyable sensation.

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