SnakeFoot, aka Ross Travis, is a Burlington-based experimental beatmaker who weaves an unusual tapestry of atmospheric and textural sounds. His 2014 album, Gold Collection, was an instrumental amalgam of traditional jazz arrangements, found soundscapes, twitchy hip-hop and ambient electro. Recently, SnakeFoot released a two-track EP with Steph Heaghney, front woman for the neo-soul-funk group Smooth Antics. Sensual and more melodic than his previous recordings, All Gifted/Trouble EP offers a taste of SnakeFoot's innovative beats paired with seductive lounge vocals.
"All Gifted" is a sonic journey that ponders the nature of inspiration. A pensive backbeat runs throughout, moving things along at a comfortable clip. Glitchy, metallic bursts and catchy snare add auditory interest.
Heaghney serves as the muse, singing of her power to inspire and persuade. "This time I'm gonna use my ability / to awaken your curiosity," she sings. Then, "What is it in me that you can't see / is it all the worldly possibility?"
Later in the song, SnakeFoot introduces some ear candy with distorted vocal echoes and a few background alarm bells. Still, the downtempo track is relatively tame.
"Trouble" opens like a movie scene from the golden age of Hollywood: The curtain draws back, the dramatic intro music cues, a female presence wanders in.
Slinky as ever, Heaghney sings of a woman who will seduce and surprise. Even if lyrics such as "Shaped like an hourglass / round like a bubble / juicy and supple" are a tad unimaginative, Heaghney delivers them well. Her smoky, trailing voice conveys strength, attitude and seduction. When she teases, "If it's trouble you're looking for / then it's trouble you'll find," you believe her.
Musically, "Trouble" is a treat. Deep, staircase-stepping bass notes punctuate raindrops of snazzy percussion. Luxurious and well-placed trumpet notes, courtesy of Heaghney's Smooth Antics bandmate Nico Osborne, add to the provocative vibe.
With just two songs, SnakeFoot and Heaghney leave us wanting more. She is the star siren, using her wiles with restraint and poise. Meanwhile, SnakeFoot pares down his usual musical mélange. His subtle, well-crafted instrumentation suits his partner's elegant vocal chops. Let's hope we hear more from this pair.
All Gifted/Trouble EP by SnakeFoot & Steph Heaghney is available at snakefoot.bandcamp.com. Steph Heaghney plays the Light Club Lamp Shop in Burlington on Saturday, June 4.