The stark landscapes and crisp climates that characterize the winter months can clarify, if not intensify, our emotions. Music released this time of year has a tendency to be especially raw and poignant, which is certainly the case for the five exceptional cuts featured on "Winter Selections 04."
Veteran American sensations Blugazer and The Cynic Project kick off this release with "Avalon," a chill contemplation that establishes the introspective tone of the release as a whole. Shortly into the track a heavy bassline emerges, followed by hypnotic vocals that fill the gaps between subtle crystalline effects. A break interlude at the song's halfway point showcases The Cynic Project's atmospheric accents, once again reminding us of the American duo's prowess for deep, mesmerizing progressions.
Indonesian phenom LTN teams up with rising Australian talent TAGLO to deliver an evocative slow-burner. A patient groove and stirring, suspenseful pads are joined by lavish piano keys. Rather than immediately leading into a traditional build-up-and-drop arrangement, the duo opt for a different direction, allowing the piano to carry the listener to an even calmer and more cathartic plateau.
British veteran contributor Glaue introduces us to "Yours Faithfully" with crisp percussion, followed by an infectious beat. The listener steadily drifts into a vortex of sound, accentuated by a vibrant bass riff. Midway into the arrangement, we're treated to mellow strings that lead into a contemplative buildup. Against the momentary silence, reverberating synths herald the reemergence of Glaue's innovative, hypnotic groove, and the listener is once again transported to a wintry refuge of infinite bliss.
In Owen Ear's mesmerizing "Skyline," delicate piano keys and arpeggios evoke a late-night stroll through the snow-dotted alleys of New York City. A morphing bassline and a funky, repeating arp line adds intrigue to the slowly crescendoing soundscape. Yet, just as the aural textures begin to feel a bit foreboding, a tranquil and hopeful vision of the cityscape is revealed through a variety of harmonious motifs. These gorgeous instrumental themes continue into the final stage of this moody and, ultimately, poignant composition.
Veteran producer and singer-songwriter Astroleaf is joined by label newcomer Simen A. Kristiansen on "Through The City," a pulsating synthwave exploration that brings the EP to a stirring close. Astroleaf's distinctively melancholic vocals imbue the composition with a somber and especially reflective quality, as he lyrically tackles the wreckage of a past relationship. Meanwhile, Kristiansen's infectious instrumental hooks offer an uplifting counterweight to the melancholic mood. The chemistry between these two gifted Norwegian composers is palpable, as the emotional resonance of the arrangement intensifies with each passing moment.