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Killer CDs: The Snake The Cross The Crown - Mander Salis  
By Mark Hensch

Santa Barbara, CA's The Snake The Cross The Crown may have very well done the unthinkable; they may have recreated emotional, important, and lively space music that hippies would like. Now debuted on Equal Vision records TSTCTC lets Mander Salis waif in on unsuspecting ears like a feather in a soft thermal updraft. Intense yet chilled out, it is music made by that overly-serious, sober, and dramatic stoner down the road in Southern Cali. It isn't rocking so much from the actual music, but the vibe of freedom it oozes, along with sadness, loss, and melancholy.

"A Honest Misappropriation of Funds" starts off with some effects that sound like video game sound FX, and then the triple vocalists (Carl Marshall on bass, Kevin Jones/Franklin Sammons on guitars) go into a spacey ballad of apathetic defeat. Oddly operatic, and almost in a strange way Beatlesque, the song loops in some weird guitar solos on you before it is declared that "So please define our lives for us." "Empires" ambles on our ears with folksy vocals and guitars (or maybe banjos?) and keyboardist William Sammons (Frank's brother) throws in a confetti ball of random background keys for some good stuff. "Gates of Dis" is twinkling, vocal driven rock in the vein of Sparta perhaps. Every single one of these guys have amazingly clear vocals, over some trippy instruments. 

"A Gathering of Shades" is a more conventional (at first) soft-quiet indie rock tune that throws in some jamming solos and more ballad making. "On the Threshold of Eternity" shakes in with folksy songwriting that stays its welcome through genius and peaceful stretched-out serenity. 

Album highlight "The Sun Tells the Moon" is an emotional art rocker that has random notes and driving, subtle chord soundscapes. TSTCTC expands their sound into a universally accepting plethora of guitars and keyboards on this great track. "A Brief Intermission" is a simply amazing acoustic piece. This is what a clean guitars only song should sound like. "The Laughing Man" cyclones in with keyboard effects that drip with sonic fluidity, before going into an upbeat, almost jazzy tune, capping off what is essentially a three-song hat-trick for the band. 

"Echolalia" winds through progressive and moody song writing, becoming an epic 9:02 in length and amazing listeners with the ability of this band to stretch mellow music to the very seams of creative freedom. "The Fields of Ius" is very sad song that has some very quiet vocals/instrumentation before it kind of cascades into a quasi-Coldplay crescendo towards the end.

Summed up in two words, The Snake The Cross The Crown have created an album that is stark and moving. This is art rock in its most innocent and forgiving form; a world where people didn't be different by doing things not yet done, but by changing things already made. Melding elements of pop, psychedelic, emo, and folk together into a strange cocktail, Mander Salis is one of the loudest quiet albums I have ever heard. The music here is so serene and profound that it exudes an almost spiritual aura. Simplistic yet layered, dark yet light, and all-together epic, The Snake The Cross The Crown have made an excellent "chill out" album. Now if only other bands would follow their lead.

CD Info 

The Snake The Cross The Crown - Mander Salis 
Label: Equal Vision
1. A Honest Misappropriation of Funds
2. Empires
3. Gates of Dis
4. A Gathering of Shades
5. On the Threshold of Eternity
6. The Sun Tells the Moon
7. A Brief Intermission
8. The Laughing Man
9. Echolalia
10. The Fields of Ius
Listen to samples and Purchase this CD online

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