Anemone Tube / Jarl / Monocube – The Hunters In The Snow – A Contemplation On Pieter Bruegel‘s Series Of The Seasons CD The Epicurean / Auf Abwegen 2019
Being a three-way split of sorts, there is perhaps little point in trying to highlight who did what, particularly as their individual inputs combine and blend into a seamless whole. Yet even so, the sonic hallmarks of each project are clearly present throughout (depending on the track), which includes: the clinical and forceful ambient drones of Jarl, the archaic soundscape ambience of Monocube and the evocatively lush vs tonally harsh industrial ambience of Anemone Tube. Likewise, as is expressly stated in the title, conceptually the album is inspired by the Pieter Bruegel’s seasons paintings, of which five in the series are reproduced in the luxuriously designed eight panel double gatefold card cover, while the eight-page booklet provides further conceptually relevant liner notes.
Five tracks span just short of fifty minutes, which will give an appreciation of the long form and slow evolving compositions. Evidently composed over a span of five years, this is clearly evident in the meticulous detailing and the controlled and unhurried approach. The atmosphere effortlessly articulates the slow morphing ebb and flow of life and the cyclic nature of the seasons, and even more so when nature-based field recordings are employed within the sonic framework. The is also a huge spectrum of tonal variety employed, which makes each of the five compositions clear and distinct from each other, which spans the calm and contemplatively toned, to the compositions with greater tonal heft and force.
The Gloomy Day opens the album and embodies the mood implied by the title through sweeping minor key tonal washes and synth pulses. The Hay Harvest then significantly deviates though its use a manipulated micro-tonal contact mic recordings, lush sub-orchestral synth washes and further field recording elements (late in the track throbbing clinical drones and higher pitched sustained tones take over). The Harvesters then makes central use of field recordings, which are gradually overlaid with intense atonal synth drones and squalling distortion which makes for the noisiest composition sitting at the centre of the album. The muted synth melodies of The Return of the Herd are suitably bleak and forlorn, which is counterpointed with the forceful and intertwining crystalline drones of The Hunters In The Snow, which late track shifts into austere melancholia. With its widescreen atmospheric soundscape this final track morphs into the sound of whiteout snow blizzard which sweeps the album into concluding oblivion.
Given the glut of releases being issued year upon year in the broader dark ambient field, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out in the mass, yet this album has no issue in those regards. This is an album which immediately draws you into its sonic tapestry and thematic narrative and does not let up for the entire duration. Personally, I listened to this three times back to back upon receiving it, which is proof enough of this point, and further underlines my assertion that this album warrants your detailed attention, regardless of if the contributing projects are familiar or not. Conceptually, sonically and visually, this a veritable feast for the ear, eye and mind.