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zebra and snake - healing music

healing music
catalog number:
21.99 €
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Zebra and Snake are Finnish-born Tapio (Vocals/ synths) and Matti (Bass/ Backing vocals/ synths) - two friends who've converged from very different starting blocks to unite in gloriously warm, electronic technicolour.

Originally from Alajärvi - a town "so small that everyone knows each-other" - the pair had been long time friends but never musical collaborators. Matti spent his sonic upbringing developing a self-diagnosed "synthesizer fetish" and playing in a group predominantly influenced by Björk, whilst Tapio came from a wholly - or should we say holy - different background altogether. Born into a family of religious Lutherans and with a brother entering the priesthood, the singer grew up on a farm, listening solely to classical music. Ultimately though, the restrictions of the Lutheran lifestyle proved disenchanting; "I'm too curious to settle for that and continue with what my parents do", he explains, "but it wasn't until I moved to Helsinki for university that I thought it'd be fun to form a band."

When Matti also moved to the city in 2007 things suddenly clicked into place. As the bassist explains, "I was playing in another band and we had all our equipment set up. Tappio came over, we started improvising and thought 'Yeah, this is cool' so we just carried on developing it.". Fuelled by a shared love of Fleetwood Mac, krautrock and ambient electronics, the duo's progress was slow but steady, forming the foundations for what would later become 'Healing Music'. "We needed time to get it sounding classic and timeless," enthuses Tapio. "We tried a lot of different stuff, but now we're at a point where it sounds like something that's totally our own".

The point they've reached is an exciting one indeed. Shot through with shimmering, 80s electronic inflections, but with a core that's tangibly human and filled with the wide-eyed awe of stepping into the big city, Zebra and Snake's debut is danceable and catchy, but with an audibly beating heart.

"It's pop but then it's healing music - that's an idea that's carried through every song" say the band. "In the background there's always something healing or comforting. The atmosphere in our music connects with that phrase; it's like a beautiful place that's happy and safe but where there are hidden tragedies."

Whether on the quasi-religious single 'The Colours', on which Tapio forlornly repeats "when you're not ok / I can't say it's ok", or on the cowbell-toting earworm 'Burden' with it's uplifting spiral of synths set against stark lyrics about loneliness, the pair's heartfelt manifesto rings true throughout the record. They mix tragedy and ecstasy into a uniquely humane brand of pop music. Opener 'Money In Heaven', meanwhile, comes in like a modern take on Prefab Sprout's classic 'Cars & Girls' - lacing dreamy washes of synths with pure pop melodies and an effervescently catchy chorus. Whilst 'Sweetest Treasure' begins with skittish, dappled beats before unfolding into layers of choral coos and propelling synth rhythms, coining another jubilant central hook amidst the electronic experimentation.

The result of two years work - recorded in the snatches of time available at Berlin's Kaiku Studios and constantly evolving - 'Healing Music' is both a labour of love and an impressive marker of just how far the Finnish duo have come. "It was strange because we'd never made music together, and you see a different part of someone then," explains Tapio, "but we have the same perspective on things, so when it all came so easily and naturally".

The album is preceded by the Sweetest Treasure EP - out now - and featuring four tracks from the album. Sweetest Treasure has been given the re-mix treatment by a raft of talent including Kiki, Dreamtrak, Shift-Static, Steesh, Dam Mantle and Napoleon IIIrd. The duo played 3 London shows in February and return in May for further dates.

With their hearts on their sleeves and their namesakes on their chest, Zebra and Snake are making electronic music that aims for the head as well as the feet; the healing process is just beginning.
a01. money in heaven
a02. the colours
a03. now & forever
a04. empty love song
a05. sweetest treasure
b01. the bride
b02. burden
b03. white sharks
b04. foolish heart
b05. sickness
b06. healing music
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