Stormloop :: Snowbound* (Glacial Movements)

There are no great shifts to the glacial isolationist ambient paradigm here, but a consummate execution of a programmatic template. A little more than this, in fact, since Spence manages, with the quiet storm of his loop, to imbue Snowbound* with a metaphysical sense of something beyond within the chronostasis of his scenes.

Stormloop 'Snowbound*'

Snowbound* - Stormloop Snowbound* compiles tracks recorded in an eponymously snow-engripped December by Leeds lad Kev Spence, synth-twiddler by appointment since 1999 under the unfortunate sub-Tolkien moniker, Stormloop. Composed while watching late into the night, attended by the feeling of being lost, but safe and warm, in some remote cabin, its trajectory goes from the cold winter nights in a full-immersion ice bath out towards the magnificent void in bleak but warm droning ambient electronica—minimal motion, from deep, sonorous and bass-heavy expanses to more delicate vistas, formed of synths and processed guitar to create a landscape of vast droney fields, airy field recordings and soft environmentalia. A first full label release for Spence on Glacial Movements, it represents a resumption of something approaching normal service for the minimal glacial inclination of the label aesthetic—closer to the soft isolationism of Loscil and Netherworld, two recent entries in the Glacial Movements catalogue, and gratifying removed from the blowsy ambient blub of bvdub, whose I Remember and earlier The Art of Dying Alone) made for, to these ears, an incongruent deviation from the GM mission.

The external trappings perpetuate the label’s glacial in-house style, but insides secrete a certain warmth—a sense of cold stillness, certainly, but short of the deep freeze of a Köner (click here for article), or indeed a Sleep Research Facility, with a deal more overtly harmonic content. Opener “Snowbound” sonographically traverses a frosty trajectory with a majestic sweep of sonorities of naggingly Biospherean mien. The wind-blown contours of “A Blizzard” are rolled over by ripples building to waves – mimetic of a storm, looped, in fact (could be onto something there), yet all still feels comfy inside. “Cold Winds,” for all their chill, enfold pretty crystalline tinklings and a glaze of snowflake-like crepitations in their swathes of droning keys, remotely infused with intersecting melodic figures, flutings and hisses. There is much satisfaction to be derived from the sound design detail here: from the alien susurrations threaded through the monstrous depths of cavernous resonance that form “A Calm Reflection” to the lowercase interlude of “Melt” with its bending of lighter textures into darker shapes, followed by the ethereal choir-wraiths haunting the steepling dronescape of “Dense Fog.” Then there’s the impressive “Drifting-Decent,” which lies in a lowlit tenebrous zone, while staying nicely shy of facile dark side gestures, with something of a Steve Roach-like spirit in its headswim of deep pads drenched in fathoms-deep reverb; “Losing Sleep,” more removed, ambiguous, low-end pulse and field recording atmo lending a sense of subtle displacement. “Space Station J” and “Cygnus” take on a character of their own—a sci-fi filmic aspect, the first in boldly stated sombre tones articulated in languorous elegiac sweeps, the last, “Cygnus,” audibly draining in colour, washed out exhalations ebbing away in slow timbral evacuation.

There are no great shifts to the glacial isolationist ambient paradigm here, but a consummate execution of a programmatic template. A little more than this, in fact, since Spence manages, with the quiet storm of his loop, to imbue Snowbound* with a metaphysical sense of something beyond within the chronostasis of his scenes, the variations on the snow theme summing to a significantly involving whole. Those left wanting more will be pleased to know that they may indulge themselves further, with a set of leftovers from the same recording sessions to Snowbound* made freely available via Bandcamp.

Snowbound* is available on Glacial Movements. Buy at iTunes or Amazon.

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