Originally released as a CD and given away for free with a ticket purcased for hibernate’s Winter’s Gift show at Cafe Oto, London with Lowered, Ithaca Trio, Clem Leek and Ed Hamilton, 15th December 2012.
All proceeds from the album will go to Crisis Counselling, a charity established in 1996 to significantly reduce the barriers and exclusion in mental health care. www.crisiscounselling.co.uk
Mastered by Wil Bolton
Artwork by Jess Pauwels - tadikoi.be
Compiled by Jonathan Lees
““Melancholy were the sounds on a winter’s night.” – Virginia Woolf…
Long shadows, fading light and eventual darkness, winter pulls the curtain across the year. At this time the natural world falls into retreat, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness gives way to solitary hibernation. Snow might fall, lakes and rivers freeze and trees become brittle with the clenched strangle hold of frost. Winter is also a time of fragility and peace, it is also winter which brings the birth of the new year and re-birth of the seasons after.
Those good people over at Hibernate Recordings have put together not so much a sequel as a natural progression of last year’s wonderful Festive Greetings collection with Home Normal Records. Where last year the theme was a reworking of established seasonal music the artists invited to contribute to this year’s A Winter’s Gift have been given the task of creating music as a soundtrack to winter itself. What should that sound be: glacial, clinical, melancholic, cold, comforting, warm, a place of refuge? This collection moves through all of these scenes. A Winter’s Gift is a walk through a landscape in stasis, balancing at the top of the year, the fulcrum between decline and re-generation.
The collection of artists Hibernate have put together here tells the listener they are in safe hands, and it is that saftey and refuge which acts as a white blanket over the whole album.
Offthesky leads us out into the frozen night and hands us over to Hakobune who guides us to look up at the clear diamond uncrusted sky, clouded breath momentarily blurring the velvet canopy above. Strom Noir takes your hand and shows you the crystaline brillance of ‘Such A Beautiful Winter Day’. Simon Bainton and Ed Hamilton continue this journey before Field Rotation and ‘Winterlandschaften’ opens up a wide vista of snow-capped mountains and deep valleys, the winter landscape displayed in frozen waves of sound reminiscent of the emotional depths of Stars Of The Lid. Caught In The Wake Forever takes us down momentarily into the valley and under the shadows of snow-laden trees before emerging into the pin-sharp clarity and euphoria of Clem Leeks ‘Sleep Now Darling, We Are Here’. It is this emotional out-stretched high which gives way to Antonymes and ‘A Sadder Light Than Waning Moon’, the melancholia of winter, the essential component of the season, which brings back the balance, this is the fulcrum of the album, the depths of introspection and internal reflection which winter has to provide. Almost naturally, Good Weather For An Air Strike’s ‘Warmer With You’ is a moment of resolution, the initial abandonment to the magic of the journey becomes a resolve to continue throught the dark months of winter with its perfectly placed sample from ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, a film which could be seen as the visual accompaniment to this collection, the staring into the depths of the soul and eventaul wisdom of revelation and epiphany. Lowered, Wil Bolton and Ithaca Trio provide moments of uncertainty in the landscape, the winter mood not always benign, the melancholia of a world unable to shake off the cold, a musical shiver before Listening Mirror takes us beneath the ice, a slow moving world of life suspended, the cracks of a far off thaw just beginning above as the shifting rumble of this hidden frozen world slowly starts to hint at the anticipation of rebirth. Rebirth found through Jonatan Nästesjö’s ‘Winter Sun’ and the almost religious resilience of the organ, a slow motion breaking through the ice and on into Autistici’s ‘Kepler’s Gift’ and the snowflake which will soon become a blizzard.
The journey of ‘A Winter’s Gift’ might not end where you expect it to but that is because this is a score to winter, not to an idealised vision of a pristine carpet of white. The gift of winter is the gift of death and rebirth and Hibernate have put together the soundtrack to a time in the calendar where all life is in balance, nature deciding the outcome and us as travellers through this landscape as observers of this accutely melancholic and magical time of year.” – Fluid Radio