Ross Tones (a.k.a. Throwing Snow) has shown himself to be a producer who's difficult to pin down, at least stylistically. On "Shadower" b/w "Sanctum," Tones was dark and percussive; on Too Polite, his tunes were infused with considerably more grit; and on his first EP of 2012, Clamor, the London producer put together his most detailed and ambitous work to date. Aspera is a similarly unique outing, taking on a hue not far off from his earlier 2012 effort, but with an extra emphasis on melody and texture.
Of all the Throwing Snow releases to date, this one is the least suited for dancefloor play. That's not a slight, as it seems Tones made the choice to intentionally focus this EP more on songcraft and listenability rather than club potency. In doing so, Aspera allows for a new perspective through which to view the producer's craft and further illuminates his talents, in particular his proficiency with rich, detailed textures and keen sense for creating vivid atmospheres. In some ways, the four tracks here bear comparison to producers like Gold Panda, in that they are electronic songs imbued with warm pop sensibilities. It's not electronic pop music (there are hardly any vocals—or even samples—across the entire EP), but rather a collection of songs that take on certain pop chord structures and melodic phrases that linger in your head. Still, Aspera never quite touches on something as catchy or anthemic as Gold Panda has in the past; instead, these productions leave a bit more blank space in the listener's head, making them fit for moments of reflection—Apsera is the kind of record that will sync up perfectly with a long train ride or a morning coffee routine.
It's hard to pick out a particular highlight on this EP, as the four tracks seem to run together in a way that is cohesive but not at all lazy. While each number uses slightly different elements to reach its completion—"Melum" implements long bass notes, skittering drums, percolating toms, and an almost Oriental melody, while "Lingerwell" takes a dustier path full of subdued piano chords, synth bass, and sparse, bell-like leads—they all seem to end up in the same general sonic territory, one that proves more inviting and rewarding with an attentive and complete listen.
Stream the Aspera EP in full here.