Esther Planas began experimenting with live and recorded music in her work
from 1997 when she collaborated with the musician Luis Carbonell for a
series of dance performances in her home town, Barcelona.
She produced her first recordings in early 1999 as a soundtrack for her
earliest video work, Plastickiller.
The soundtrack consisted of four songs, with Esther performing vocals and
spoken word over music by Luis Carbonell and Justine Armatage.
She formed her band Dirty Snow in Autumn 1999 after moving to
London. The idea was to create an almost a real band, inspired by
notions of experimental sculpture as in the works of Gilbert and George ,
Situationist issues like derailing reality and Baudrillard's Era of Simulacra,
the band was supposed to just activate reactions of ephemeral disturbance,
questions about its relevance as a live work of art and all sort of other
borderline miss-understandings and miss-readings of the project.
Dirty Snow's first live performance was at the Diogenes
Club, organised by artist Cedar Lewisohn at the Clinic in Soho in
1999 / 2000. Dirty snow also performed regularly from 1999 - 2002
at performance/art/noise events at the artist-run space Five Years
in Hoxton's legendary Underwood Street. The Libertines also
appeared here, as did Martin Tomlinsom and Patrick Constable
along with many others featured at Five Years' "PROMISSE OF HAPPINES"
Eventually the gallery was served an eviction notice for noise, and
Underwood Street's colony of artists' spaces and studios was forced
to make way for luxury apartments.
Dirty Snow have since performed at numerous galleries and venues,
including playing support at early gigs by the Libertines at their
Filthy Mac´nastys..SKINT &and Minted and CITY OF LIBERTINE
at the Rhythm Factory and on tour with Selfish Cunt. The band also play
regularly at Esther's Site Specific, night 'Club Esther', a so-called 'exhibition
in a club' which advertises itself with the battle-slogan 'ART-LUST/
BLACK CUBE'. This sporadically recurring event was organised by
Esther in collaboration with Marc Hulson and takes place, when it
did take place, at On the Rocks, a venue that was notable for being one of
the last remaining bastions of unreconstructed East End seediness
amongst the multiplying style bars and suffocating 'hipness' of
Club Esther has also re-appeared in Berlin and lately at South London Gallery show
The Weasel , Pop Music and Contemporary Art , curated by Kitt Hammonds and
The BCN Psychotropic Workshops at Antigua Casa Haiku , curated by Alex Brahim
Dirty Snow's gigging and recording career has involved
collaboration with numerous musicians and artists but the most
stable (and current) line-up has been with lyrics and vocals by
Esther, jazz musician Ivor Aizenberg on drums, Patrick
Constable(co-founder of art/noise terrorists Selfish Cunt) on
guitar and the painter (and co-founder of Five Years gallery) Marc
Hulson on bass.
Dirty Snow is a band developed in an art context but which pitches
itself against the detachment and self-concious irony which tends
to typify the 'art-band'. The group's musical style and unpredictable mode of performance,
which foreground emotional expression and improvisation (sometimes to the point of
incoherence and collapse...) are for Esther a means of counter-attack and critique against
a too intellectual art-world. At the same time the band's stance rejects the crossover / careerist
trajectory of becoming a 'real' band in the 'real history' of rock music. Dirty Snow exists,
in Esther's terms, as a kind of 'ghost band' - not a real band or an ironic representation of a band.
Their mode of romanticism is consciously chosen as a means of challenging, terrorising
and infecting all the 'scenes', on as many levels as possible.
Dirty Snow also continues to provide the soundtracks for most of her video works.
Dirty Snow latest detourned line up:
Marc Hulson : Bass
Wolf : Synth
Esther Planas : Guitar and vocals
Baking tracks by Marc Hulson,
Nick Hudson and Wolf.
A new angle on our sound
Review about gig in Manchester on the same tour
Following with a much more mature sound and appearance were Dirty Snow. A band with an average age of about thirty, they
bash ‘em out with the best of them. With the ‘wall of noise’-ness of ‘Sonic Youth,’ and the conservative gothness of ‘Siouxsie and the Banshees,’’Dirty snow` show a fierceness that would make children cry. Most striking is undoubtedly the leading lady. She looks like Shelley Duvall of ‘The Shining’ fame. Wendy Torrence armed with an arsenal of twisted, tortured writhing, gyrating ‘dance’ moves to send Jack Nicholson straight to hell. No discernible words came from her mouth, and if they did were hidden under the screams and wails of that wild banshee woman. But hey, who needs words anyway. The ‘Dirty Snows’ are not at all precious about their sound, giving it up for an energy that truly shakes and stirs the front woman. ‘Dirty Snow’ are not doing anything particularly new, if anything they are playing on old styles, but their energy is fresh, sincere and exciting to watch. It’s just a shame they burnt out after only 15-20 mins.
James Bridge Williams
The Dry Bar, Manchester 2/12/2004
A PROMISE OF HAPPINESS AT FIVE YEARS 2000
BAND SPOTLIGHT}} Dirty Snow
Dirty Snow are an enigma at first glance: a starkly monochromatic male/female duo, making atmospheric post-punk in the vein of Faith and the Cure era - an influence they pay tribute to with a cover of 'All Cats Are Grey' - and under the influence of electronic music and shoegaze. It takes a little investigation to discover their origins in a gallery in Hackney in 1999 as a conceptual 'ghost band' founded by artists Esther Planas and Marc Hulson for the Five Years project. Since then they've played around London and Europe for nights including Decasia and Zoo Music. How The New Thing have missed them so far is largely due to their lack of publicity - this isn't a band so much as an experimental artistic project, with possibly the least commercial approach we've ever seen. That we haven't previously picked up on them is our mistake, since they make some of the best music we've encountered fresh for quite some time - and apparently their live appearances are even better. Discover them now to make up for nine years' worth of lost time.
review at The New Thing 2008