“Serpente Masjien” is the first solo effort from Sannie Fox, formerly of Machineri. In general, it draws heavy influence from the blues and rock bands on the ‘70s while the vocals serve as the driving force. In fact, the vocals demand attention with immediacy. Sannie Fox’s voice is versatile, and her technique is comprehensive. Within the space of a few bars she can change gears from staccato spoken word phrases to full, soulful crooning. The sounds of a Stratocaster accompany her like a trusty sidekick, adding its characteristic blues undertone.
‘Halelan’ in particular captures the authentic psychedelic blues profile that Sannie Fox does so well. It’s a perfect example of Sannie using her voice like Hendrix used his guitar – it may be easy to tell what’s happening, but there’s an intangible brilliance that would be impossible to replicate. In contrast, ‘Killer’ jolts along in a terrifying 7/4 time signature while the vocals sail through without wavering to showcase a more obscure aspect to her writing. Each track stands out with singular purpose like the gadgets on a Swiss Army knife.
The lyrics seek to conjure even further with cryptic messages and unabashedly obscure references. Much of the content is not immediately digestible. I for one fell that this works in her favour, and often felt that I needed to earn the right to understand them through multiple spins. Phrases like “Hip Heretic/know where the light switch is” had me wondering for hours, and I haven’t had lyrics affect me like that since I heard ‘Voodoo Child’ or ‘All Along the Watchtower’.
“Serpente Masjien” isn’t about understanding music on paper, it’s about having an instinct for it and letting raw talent run wild. In doing so, Sannie Fox has strayed off the beaten path and achieved greatness reserved for the artists of a bygone era. When I get my hands on the hard copy of this I’m going to play the CD until it melts.