Official music page and soapbox of Matt Snell

Thursday 25 August 2011

Resting Up After a Great Mini-Tour

I'd been looking forward to doing a mini-tour with Hiroshima accordion artist Goto Izumi for most of the summer, and I'm glad to report it was just as much fun as I hoped it would be. The Thomasburg concert series is turning out to be a raging success, despite the fact that Thomasburg is barely a dot on the map, and my leg of the tour ended on a high note at the Smiling Buddha in Toronto. I like that we ranged from rural to metropolis in three short dates.

Goto Izumi
I had fun debuting new material and getting into some theatrics, but mostly I learned a lot watching Izumi's approach to performing. Although she had some key ideas and set pieces, her performances were extremely fluid. Each night I saw her was a completely different show, and her ability to read the crowd was uncanny. If it sounds like I'm pumping her material, I'm not - I'm describing what I admired and what I'd most like to incorporate into my own act. Plus, she can play the hell out that accordion. I had a great time playing a saw duet with her on the last night, and I hope it'll go up on YouTube in the not-too-distant future.

I also enjoyed Danish filmmaker Sofie Ivan Andersen's film Dream Circus, which screened after the music, not to mention all her help with organization and translation. She was shooting footage for a new music doc, so if I make the final cut of the film, you can bet I'll be bragging like mad, but even if I don't, I'd recommending looking up the film when it goes online or trying to catch a screening. Thanks too to Jarret of the Fire Flower Revue for performing and organizing.

Izumi down on the farm
One of the great things about having visitors from way out of town is that everybody profits from the exchange. Izumi met Will and Verna Walker of Reklaw Farms at the Thomasburg show, and the next day we got some check out their organic operation (and watch a six-year old ride a pig). It made for some great photos, which is where the pic at right comes from.

I think I'm going to take some at-home vacation for the next few days, so this site won't be updated as frequently. I have about a half-dozen projects in mind for September, though, so I'll be back with a vengeance in the fall. In the next year I'd like to record my latest originals, an old-time album, and perhaps a sequel or two to Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack - maybe Return of the Two Headed Hippopotamus or Son of Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack? A friend has also challenged me to record some songs of Milarepa, the eleventh century Buddhist poet and saint, to the tune of "Big Rock Candy Mountain." I accept - there are apparently a hundred thousand songs to choose from. Also, the maple bugs have mysteriously returned to my backyard, good news for anyone who enjoyed the Painting with Bug Blood series... Feel free to drop me a line if there's anything you'd like to see or hear first!

Duet at Smiling Buddha, Toronto
At Kubo Lounge, Peterborough

Wednesday 17 August 2011

The Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack Project Retrospective

 The first time I recorded an album or finished writing a novel (only four people ever read it, and only four people ever will), it was a big deal to me. Whatever the shortcomings were of those two pieces of art, what I remember most about them is their intense desire to be born. I can still hear it coming through strongly when I look back at them. Subsequent efforts to write fiction have floundered without that drive, despite being more carefully conceived and probably technically superior.

So I was surprised when I sat down to listen to the Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack Project (a collection of material I released here on weekly basis, with a name borrowed from a sculpture by Karl Brendel) and found I had recorded another album. I didn't conceive of it that way at all, although I had it in the back of my mind that after I was finished, I'd be in good shape to record something for real. It might not be a work of towering genius, but the 'Project certainly qualifies as real. It's a funny feeling to sit back and realize you've actually created the kind of thing you've heard before in your mind's ear.

I liked the process of releasing a track a week - there's probably some sort of tortoise and the hare thing to be learned there. I may have thought of each track as a one-off, but lined up end to end the breadth of style is fun, if your ears like to rove like mine. I will definitely use that technique again, but I think I'll wait until September to get cracking in order to give myself a chance to prepare for some upcoming shows.

I'm also glad (relieved?) to see an evolution from the first album, Gallows Humour. Blazing hot licks aren't my style, but I fancy I hear a bit more subtly and dimension. I'm often quite proud of my lyrics, which strangely enough can make me forget that I can play, too, and an instrumental album is one way to remind myself.

If you look back through the posts, you can see me ragging on myself for lack of production quality, and although it's probably not the sort of thing you'd want to crank on your car stereo, at home at a reasonable volume it sounds warm and clear enough to me at least. I would much rather make it available now to the public with that proviso than put myself in debt paying a producer, or withhold it for a year while I try and acquire the money to do so.

With that in mind I've made Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack available for download on Bandcamp, so that you can listen to it without interruption. The tracks are still available individually for free here, and the complete album download is free as well (although I may set up a donation option in the near future in case generous listeners would like to contribute to the cause). I've done some very minor editing to try and ensure consistency when heard end to end. I hope you enjoy it, welcome your feedback, and promise to follow this one up with some songier songs soon!

Get a copy of Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack here:

Bang & Jangle Radio Hour, Episode 16: The Unexpected

I decided to close out the summer radio season with an abstract theme, "The Unexpected." Here is the playlist nobody expected:

Carl Stalling - Putty Tat Trouble, Pt. 6
Song Poems - Virgin Child of the Universe
Brian Wilson - Smart Girls
Elvis Presley - Are You Lonesome Tonight? (Laughing Version)
Vincent Price - Morbid Cooking Lesson #3, Small Boys
Me - Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack
Goto Izumi - Our Old Cafe

There won't be an episode next Tuesday, but if everything goes according to plan The Bang & Jangle Radio Hour will be back soon with an new and expanded hour long format. That should let me really dig into the themes each week, and the name will finally make sense. I also hope to stay as close to the old time slot as possible - I'll post the new schedule here as soon as I have it.

Thanks to everyone who listened this summer!

Thursday 11 August 2011

Oh So Legitimate: Official Name Change

As I steadily climb the ladder of success, I am forced to abandon people and things on the rungs below me. One of those things is my old web address,, in favour of a fancy, brand-spanking new, expensive-looking custom domain: welcome to!

Everything is the same. In fact, I would've much preferred a simple, but it turns out there's another Matt Snell who's a computer programmer, so naturally he beat me to the punch. The only thing that's different is I have taken the old banner and pasted my own ugly, guttural name in place of the jaunty slogan, Bang & Jangle. I would much rather see that up there, but since this site is substantially devoted to my music and live appearances, my name gives the curious a clearer idea of what to expect.

Of course, I will continue to fill the Oddities and Observations part of my mandate. If you've been humouring me all along and are frustrated by having to remember a new web address never fear, the old one will automatically redirect here.

I would also like to take this opportunity to mention some dazzling statistics: according to the Google Tracker Bang & Jangle, I mean,, has had five hits in Singapore, three in Australia, three in Indonesia, two in Finland and two in Italy. I smell a tour coming on!

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Bang & Jangle Radio Hour, Episode 15: Instrumental Overdubs

Luie Luie
I thought they'd make a nifty pair if I followed up last week's show on vocal overdubbing with a corresponding episode on noteworthy instrumental overdubs. Here's what I came up with:

Sidney Bechet - Sheik of Araby
John Frusciante - Untitled #6
Hans Reichel - Oway Oway
Luie Luie - El Touchy
Frank Pahl - Lolita Ya Ya
Me - Goodtimes in the Swamp
Pascal Comelade - Le Barman de Satan

There's only one more episode left in the summer season, but there should be plenty to look forward to in the fall, when I hope to move to a one-hour format. And of course, I promise a bangup conclusion to the current season next week!

The Bang & Jangle Radio Hour airs Tuesdays 9:00-9:30 on Trent Radio, 92.7 in Peterborough, online at

Season 1, Episode 15

Monday 8 August 2011

The Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack Project: Grand Finale

(The Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack Project is a series of impromptu recordings released on a weekly basis. Click the label at the bottom of the post for more details.)

It's done! A song a week for twelve weeks (although the actual average was a song every 7.7 days, allowing for construction on my building, nearby music festivals bleeding into the mic, spider bites, and summer laziness). I haven't listened to them all consecutively yet, but I know I like the ending.

I was hoping to go out on a fun and high-spirited note, and I think I managed that. Since I kept it instrumental for eleven tracks, I let myself break the pattern and use words. The end result is almost like a kid's song. Have a listen; I'll post some retrospective musings on the 'Project later: 

Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack

Thursday 4 August 2011

The Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack Project: Week XI

(The Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack Project is a series of impromptu recordings released on a weekly basis. Click the label at the bottom of the post for more details.)
Well, I slipped over the July 31st deadline. It was, however, a long weekend in Ontario, and I grappled with the question of what was the right thing - to stay home working valiantly to get it done, or to capitalize on the holiday and go to a friend's cottage.

I went to the cottage. This is the one tiny domain where I'm my own boss, so it made sense. I'm happy, though, that this is the second-last entry in the 'Project. At the outset I began with consciously narrative-based pieces that told a story in almost cartoon fashion. Wondering whether it was a crutch, I started playing with more strictly musical ideas for the bulk of the tracks, so it seemed logical to harmonize the two for the ending.

This piece is lifted from the soundtrack of a non-existent Western called Killingback and Winterbottom. As I mentioned in the Painting with Bug Blood series, the graveyard near my house is a major source of inspiration. One day on my walk there I noticed the names Killingback and Winterbottom on two graves close by each other, and thought they paired nicely. Inevitably, I began to imagine them dueling in a saloon.

Morricone it ain't, but it works well enough. You get to decide who wins (my money's on Killingback). If anyone needs their B-Western scored, I'm available and I understand your vision.

Killingback and Winterbottom

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Bang & Jangle Radio Hour, Episode 14: Singing to Themselves

Bobby McFerrin
The vocal harmonies theme carried through last night into an episode on vocal overdubbing. All six tracks featured singers creating their own backup vocals, beats, or other effects. Sound avant-garde on paper, but this was the poppiest episode of the Bang & Jangle Radio Hour on record:

Patti Page - Confess
Tom Waits - Innocent When You Dream
Kate Bush - Suspended in Gaffa
Patton/Kaada - PitiƩ Pour Mes Larmes
Elliott Smith - I Didn't Understand
Bobby McFerrin - Good Lovin'

I had to sacrifice mad Finnish genius Islaja and a few other nifty artists for the sake of time, but I'll keep 'em in mind for the future. Next week, I think we'll alter the focus a little, and look at musicians who have overdubbed themselves performing on instruments other than voice.

The Bang & Jangle Radio Hour airs Tuesdays 9:00-9:30 on Trent Radio, 92.7 in Peterborough, online at

Season 1, Episode 14