You can take the boy out of Bristol, but you can’t take Bristol out of the boy. Ross Tones is based in London these days, but the music he makes under his Throwing Snow alias epitomizes the sound of the town he long called home — a dynamic fusion of house, dubstep, boogie, footwork, and drum and bass for which the customary tag “bass music” is even more woefully inadequate than usual. Now, allied with the singer Augustus Ghost (Hannah Cartwright) in the duo Snow Ghosts, Tones revisits an earlier moment in Bristol’s history, when Portishead and Massive Attack were crafting exquisite soundtracks to bummed-out Monday comedowns.
Their debut album, A Small Murmuration, is as wintry as you might expect from a group called Snow Ghosts, its dark cross-hatching conjuring skies blackened by flocks of starlings, and it covers plenty of ground on its tour of the frozen wastelands: Gothic drum and bass (“Covenant,” featuring Blue Daisy), footworking Dead Can Dance (“Murder Cries”), fireside deep house (“Untangle Me”), and even unadulterated chamber folk (“Time Listens”).
“We tried to make our first album as coherent as possible,” the duo told SPIN, “a journey rather than a collection of tracks.” Inspired by Mark Z. Danielewski’s labyrinthine novel House of Leaves, and illustrated with Cartwright family photographs from the 1930s, the album promises a trip rich in mystery and the most sumptuous kind of melancholy.
A Small Murmuration is out July 8 on Houndstooth, a new label from London’s Fabric nightclub. Stream the album in full below.