Snail’s House arose by 2014 out of Japanese electronic producer Keitaro Ujiie’s need to separate himself from his EDM project Ujico* and establish a moniker whose sonic palette favored the kawaii aesthetics. Since then, Ujiie has brought forth an impressive and consistent collection of releases under such name, leading up to the album this review will be focusing on: Lumi. Snail’s House is a name that has always been on the backburner for me, having only listened to a couple of songs from previous efforts thanks to my bandmates recommending them to me. It goes without saying, then, that Lumi is my proper introduction to Snail’s House and let me just say, what a lovely experience it all was.
Lumi‘s overall sound is tender yet vibrant, immediately encapsulating you with whooshes of its sharp yet lively production, whose conversely organic instrumentation makes these tracks ever more so gravitating. Its melodies wander by as wistful spectres that never quite transform into melancholic reveries, as the overarching tone leans more towards a hazy nostalgia that glistens with presence, much like a Saturday morning from treasured childhood memories. “gemini” in particular is indicative of this, with its low-key drum beat and heart-thumping bass serving as a foundation to the free-flowing nature of the colorful arrangements found throughout.
This record also has a peculiar variety of musical stylings that, although subtle in execution, make it pop out with all its dreamlike splendor. One such instance that caught my attention was “snowcloud – interlude”, whose blend of contemplative guitars, dulcet keys, a driving rhythm, and atmospheric synths placed in the background is very reminiscent of electronica-infused post-rock outfits such as The American Dollar. The playful synth leads in “lumiukko”, in turn, showcase an upbeat demeanor characteristic of ’90s r’n’b that pairs nicely with the otherwise icy production. Both tracks attest to the fact that no moment on Lumi is lost at any point – the craftsmanship is evident through its cohesion.
The sheer mellowness in tandem with the kaleidoscopic sound design on this album forms a sensory adventure that is nothing short of gratifying. There’s always something to shift your focus on – whether it is the intricate beats giving way the bright orchestrations on the future garage cut “frostbite”, or the glitchy vocal samples swaying with the lively bass synths and a cheerful keys lead that might as well be a congratulations soundbite for a video game on “wintersleep”. Ujiie clearly has a vision when it comes to his music, for there is a knack for worldbuilding and mood-enhancing here that not only shows care to the details, but also a solid knowledge of making each track catchy and accessible.
All these descriptors I’ve laid out throughout this review eventually band together to create the perfect winter jam that is “valentine night”. Encompassing the comfort that warmth brings on an otherwise chilly night, “valentine night” stands out due to its use of beaming percussion weaving through these layered melodies that are surprisingly stirring in its effervescence, sort of like the reassurance from a friend or like a dear pet cuddling besides you. It’s in no way track for you to ponder on, but more so a treat you give to yourself to leave you in high spirits and ready for the next day.
Lumi is a wonderful display of joy, packed into a collection of tracks that shines in its soulfulness and dedication to place you in a truly fulfilled mindset. After listening to this album, it’s easy to note that Ujiie has refined his wholesome approach to songwriting with excellence, and I’m sure it’ll be prevalent on Snail’s House‘s future releases. If you seek a genuine feel-good record to get you through the week, then Lumi is, without a shadow of a doubt, a no-brainer.