February dawn – frost
on the path
Where I paced all winter.
– Jack Kerouac, Book of Haikus
Written, produced and mastered by Wil Bolton, September 2014 – December 2015, London.
Performed on bass guitar, acoustic guitar, synthesizers, effects and field recordings.
Artwork by Francisca Pageo
Inside photography by Mathias Van Eecloo
Design by Rémi Verdier
Thanks to Soo, Mathias and Francisca.
“We wrap up today’s writing session with a man who has often been present in our evening playlists. As some readers might know, I like to close my day with some nice, relaxing ambient music. In the past few days I have been playing this album a lot because it simply is the best music to listen to when a person is ill. Yes, I’ve been suffering from a flu and/or laryngitis last weekend. I still don’t feel so good but mr. Bolton made it all bearable.
Every month, Eilean Records release one of these ambient gems and it’s always a pleasure to listen to them. English composer Wil Bolton delivered the February edition, which has become a warm, organic piece of music, gently floating through the room. With keyboards and guitars, Bolton creates elaborate soundscapes, perhaps a bit similar to what people like Dirk Serries, Field Rotation or Pete Namlook have done over the years.
At times, as in the great title track ‘February Dawn’, the drones might be a bit harsher than the usual easy-to-listen-to ambient tunes from people like Brian Eno or Harold Budd have created but never in an obtrusive way. The whole remains on a listener-friendly level, a perfect companion for those late night relaxation sessions. The slow, lingering soundscapes fill the air with a warm sound.
It’s hard to pick a favorite track out of these ten but if you make me, I’ll probably go with the gloomy and melodic ‘Weatherboard’ or perhaps closer ‘Honeywood’. Both add a touch of melody to the music, be it in a very minimal way. However, as with most of the Eilean releases, I prefer listening to this album in its entirety and I recommend you do the same. If you are a fan of ambient sounds, you surely want to have this beauty in your collection.” – Merchants Of Air
“When speaking about his work, UK-based sound artist Wil Bolton has expressed that his is “particularly interested in the resonance of spaces and their history, and wider notions of place”. Take a look at his releases over the past couple of years and you will see ample evidence of this. Every album has a thematic context and every track a setting that frames the perspective and drives the musical narrative. There is a certain consistency in Bolton’s compositional approach but the sonic gradients and filigree are always crafted with great attention to detail to convey that which is unique about his subject and so it is the case with latest effort February Dawn which is soon to be released on Eilean Rec.
The music on this record was performed on bass guitar, acoustic guitar, synthesizers, effects and field recordings and reflects an acute minimalism mirrored in Jack Kerouac’s haiku which is all that is offered as background. Compared with the lush modern classical landscapes of Marram or the autumnal charm of Inscriptions, February Dawn seems sparse and muted, but that does not mean it is any less exquisite. It has a seductive, icy allure that befits the title. Field recordings and a glistening amalgam of guitar and synth tones mesmerize on tracks like “Shells and Flints”, “Coastal Glow”, “Bleaching Ground”, and “Honeywood” while a deeper shade of melancholy occasionally emerges such as on “Dot to Dot” or “Dead Branches”. The album defies impatient listening. One has to embrace and inhabit its stillness to fully appreciate it and, listened to in this way, that appreciation will grow each time the journey is repeated.
February Dawn is being released digitally and on CD by Eilean Rec. with artwork by Francisca Pageo. Pre-orders began the day before this post was published, but by the time you read this there will likely be only a handful of physical copies left as is the case with almost every release on this enigmatic label.” – Stationary Travels
“A musician from the United Kingdom with a penchant for combining electronic tones with digitally processed acoustic sounds, Wil Bolton has already made a name for himself through his works with Hibernate, Time Released Sound, Home Normal, Dauw, Dronarivm, and Fluid Audio. Now however, Bolton has moved on to Eilean Rec., and with the change of label comes the release of his twelfth album, ‘February Dawn’.
The new album sees Bolton once again exploring his interests in the resonance of spaces and their history, along with wider notions of place and memory, but where previous albums have often felt a little shallow on their sound, ‘February Dawn’ presents a fully realized vision. Holding firm a setlist of sonic gradients and compositional flourishes, Bolton’s twelfth LP is arguably his most consistent and moving to date.
A spiraling combination of bass guitar, acoustic guitar, synths, effects, and field recordings, the album showcases a rich collection of sounds that have been spun together to forge a lavish ensemble. Seasons and colours blossom throughout, with compositions shifting the melancholy wash of ‘Dead Branches’ to the cascading romances of ‘Coastal Glow’ and ‘Honeywood’, and all throughout you can sense the world that inspired Bolton’s sounds.” – Anthem Review
“Non poteva mancare un artista prolifico e di grande sensibilità come Wil Bolton nell’ideale mappa sonora che da due anni a questa parte l’etichetta francese Eilean sta tracciando, intessendo fili e unendo punti espressivi apparentemente distanti nello spazio e nello stille.
Quello delineato dal chitarrista inglese è, come spesso avviene con le sue creazioni, uno scorcio di romanticismo ambientale, che trova collocazione temporale e di ispirazione in un contesto invernale riscaldato riverberi e modulazioni soffuse, screziate da field recordings, minuti fremiti e irregoralità.
I dieci brani di “February Dawn” mantengono appunto fede alla loro traccia tematica, restituendo sensazioni aurorali e vaporose, morbidamente plasmate dalla combinazione di effetti e timbriche chitarristiche con stratificazioni sintetiche e placide note acustiche.
Nel corso dei cinquanta minuti del lavoro, il composito universo sonoro di Bolton si dispiega in maniera quanto mai esaustiva, muovendo dalle abituali modulazioni chitarristiche (“Shells And Flints”), prima solcate da tremuli frammenti acustici (“Coastal Glow”) e via via sublimanti in evanescenze ambientali impalpabili (“Dot To Dot”, “Blue Field Balcony”).
Accanto alle estatiche contemplazioni stagionali definite da tali elementi, in “February Dawn” convivono microsuoni crepitanti, adagiati a mo’ di cornice intorno a un po’ tutti i brani, e saturazioni sintetiche più dense, che proprio nella title track lasciano trasparire una consistenza granulosa, così rappresentando anche il lato più disagevole di un’alba invernale, così colta in tutti i suoi aspetti di fragile, evocativa suggestione.” – Music Won’t Save You
“La luce tenue del sole che sorge infrangendo il gelo di una notte invernale senza diradare l’aura sognante che ancora avvolge ogni cosa. Potremmo sintetizzare con questa immagine le sensazioni che derivano dall’ascolto di “February dawn”, punto  sulla mappa Eilean tracciato dal talentuoso Wil Bolton.
Il musicista inglese costruisce una raccolte di delicate istantanee che condensano il fascino e la malinconia che accompagna la stagione fredda attraverso un’attenta combinazione di tessiture sintetiche, flebili melodie elettro-acustiche ed essenziali field recordings. L’incedere è segnato dalle trame della chitarra che riverberano attraverso morbidi strati sonori e fragili crepitii come a voler suggerire un viaggio nella memoria (“Shells and flints”, “Coastal Glow”, “Dead Branches”). Le interferenze a volte aumentano di intensità tramutandosi in ruvida grana e caratterizzando l’immagine risultante (“Bleading ground”, “February dawn”), in altri casi è invece la componente eterea e sognante ad emergere definita da dense e luminose stratificazioni (Dot to dot”, “Wishing well”).
È una costante sensazione di sospensione quella che accompagna lo scorrere dei dieci tenui paesaggi sonori dipinti da Bolton, una onirica contemplazione di un mondo che si muove incessantemente in modo quasi impercettibile e che trova in ogni singolo elemento un affascinante centro di interesse.” – SoWhat
“wil boltons tonlandschaft ist weniger einer verzückung nahe, als dass sie eine vertrautheit herstellt, die beruhigt und sanft wiegt. die komplexe verflechtung elektronischer töne mit field recordings und der beimengung eines breiten instrumentariums, aus zum beispiel akustischer gitarre und bass, führt in eine organische landschaft, die sich belebt zeigt und immer wieder dynamische momente aufweist. doch zuvorderst, dies offeriert sie an jedem einzelnen der zehn tracks der treffenderweise “february dawn” bezeichneten veröffentlichung, die am 02. februar via eilean records veröffentlicht wird. sanftes harferauschen nebst diffizilem synthiefeiern erwirkt sich aufmerksamkeit und sucht den weg in breiter vollendung. ein anschwellen beginnt, das von kirren feldaufnahmen gekreuzt wird.” – Das Klienicum
“Negli ultimi anni il britannico Wil Bolton è stato uno dei musicisti elettro-acustici più prolifici; una serie di ben dodici album che, partendo dall’esordio “Time Lapse” (2010), giunge fino ai più recenti lavori del 2015, la triade “Inscriptions”, “Marram” e “Green & Gold”.
Sempre attento nel mantenere il difficile equilibrio tra elettronica e strumentazione acustica, Bolton, col nuovo “February Dawn”, approfondisce ed esalta ancor di più le potenzialità dell’unione tra le due strumentazioni, usandole stavolta in un contesto freddo e invernale.
L’alba di febbraio è quindi la descrizione di un paesaggio gelido e inospitale, dipinto con sottofondi e riverberi, droni, morbidi ricami di chitarra acustica, rintocchi di basso elettrico e registrazioni ambientali. Se l’accostamento col duo norvegese Pjusk appare abbastanza evidente, non si può non segnalare quanto Bolton riesca sempre – tramite complesse tessiture acustiche – a mantenere una sua rigorosa personalità.
Nei suoi momenti più evocativi, Bolton compie l’impresa di coniugare i paesaggi più cupi dei brani acustici dei Labradford – come ad esempio l’inquieta “Weatherboard” – con l’elettronica contemporanea; “Bleaching Ground” e “Coastal Glow” sono abbastanza esemplificativi di questa unione. L’aspetto più romantico si ritrova in quei brani dove riverberi e droni persistenti danno una consistenza fragile e granulosa (“Dead Branches” e “Dot To Dot”), mentre inquietudini elettroniche dominano nell’episodio più autenticamente ambient-drone di “Blue Field Balcony”.
Vie di mezzo tra la fragilità e la durezza si ritrovano nell’onirico splendore della title track, che mette in unico calderone Rafael Anton Irisarri, Pjusk, il post-rock elettronico dei Labradford e dei Seefeel. Di fronte a tanta cupa grandezza il morbido finale di “Honeywood” appare come una sorta di riconciliazione. L’alba di febbraio non è poi tanto gelida.” – Ondarock
“Effortlessly blending drone, post-rock, and field recordings into an elegant elaborate whole, Wil Bolton’s “February Dawn” is sonic bliss. Melodically rich the way these songs unfold has a light, airy quality to them. Pace is the trick as these pieces make sure to take their time, floating up into the heavens. Best taken in as a whole the way the songs interact with each other is rather beautiful as they drift by with the patient calm of clouds on a bright sunny day. At times feeling reminiscent of a less industrially inclined Stars of the Lids, these approachable pieces hint at classical undertones as they evolve ever so graciously.
Beginning with a sense of play “Shells And Flints” opens the album off with a mellowed seaside manner. As it builds itself up it continues with the light contemplative mood. Easily the highlight of the album is the folk-infused wordless ballad of “Coastal GI”. Quite lush the way the drone and guitar interact is akin to that of a wind chime in a gentle breeze. Tender and emotionally affecting is the melody of “Dot To Do” whose leisurely pace and attention to detail work to its benefit. Rather active is the fragile multi-layered patterns of “Dead Branches”. Slight aggression through far-off distortion defines “February Dawn”. Easily the most pop-orientated piece is the album closer “Honeywood”.
“February Dawn” reveals Wil Bolton to be a master of the craft as the songs radiate with a welcoming warmth.” – Beach Sloth
“When speaking about his work, UK-based sound artist Wil Bolton has expressed that his is “particularly interested in the resonance of spaces and their history, and wider notions of place”. Take a look at his releases over the past couple of years and you will see ample evidence of this. Every album has a thematic context and every track a setting that frames the perspective and drives the musical narrative. There is a certain consistency in Bolton’s compositional approach but the sonic gradients and filigree are always crafted with great attention to detail to convey that which is unique about his subject and so it is the case with latest effort February Dawn. Compared with the lush modern classical landscapes of Marram or the autumnal charm of Inscriptions, February Dawn seems sparse and muted, but that does not mean it is any less exquisite. It has a seductive, icy allure that befits the title. The album defies impatient listening. One has to embrace and inhabit its stillness to fully appreciate it and, listened to in this way, that appreciation will grow each time the journey is repeated.” – Headphone Commute