8Snake got in touch as we featured them some time ago as Francesco Fonte Band, and they have since reinvented themselves. They’re about to release a pretty unusual and unique album in Kuiper Belt and I was intrigued enough by its description to give it a shot.
Essentially, the band were about to work on a new album when lockdown hit. They couldn’t meet, they couldn’t jam… but their bassist had been recording all of their jam sessions since 2014. They trawled through them, did a minimum of editing and… well, here you are. Technically this is a live album. It’s also completely improvised and each track has been played exactly once! So you can see why I was interested. Something like this doesn’t come along very often.
A quick flick through the track descriptions perhaps hints at the freeform nature – 17 minutes, 12 minutes, 7 minutes… There is one song, “Charon”, which sneaks in at under 2 minutes but on the whole each one is pretty lengthy. What impresses me is that each track is so different. You’d almost expect a band noodling around to orbit a particular “seed” each time, playing off the same limited ideas but this is very much not the case. The fact these recording span several years likely helps.
The connecting style is definitely progressive / experimental and overall a bit trippy. Jazz influences abound, perhaps not unexpectedly given the freeform nature of the music. As a non-musician, I’m impressed that three people can get into a studio or practice room and just flow the way that 8Snake have done here. While the band have said they’ve not set out for perfection – there are occasional (and I mean occasional) hiccups and moments where one member takes the lead and the others quickly catch up – it’s hard to believe that these pieces aren’t rehearsed.
Kuiper Belt is difficult to review as it’s not like anything I’d usually listen to, indeed it’s unlike anything else out there! It’s not going to appeal to a massive audience, but it’s interesting and quirky and impressive. Something to pop on in the background and see where it takes you.
Kuiper Belt is out on August 7th