A Liminal Winter

Liminal Winter


Dom Lepore

April 3, 2024

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

An injection of warmth into droning icy soundscapes elicits haunting nostalgia

There is something harrowing about walking through familiar places during the chilly dead of night. The pageantry of the world slows to a standstill, an empty haze descends alongside a feeling of detached solitude. One may weave through suburbia’s mazey alleyways, pass empty shopping centres with glaring lights still turned on, and witness the local populace fast asleep. In these moments, the coldest of nights are made memorable. Liminal Winter uses slushwave and ambient drones as the foundation for the partially self-titled A Liminal Winter, typifying the act of stepping into the seemingly perpetual lethargy of a dark, cold liminal space, letting memories wash over oneself, like tiny, intricate snowflakes.

Opener From the North audibly establishes this prospect: “It was true, you could see absolutely nothing, the snow was coming down so hard and blowing up that visibility.” Huge blankets of snow covering the streets is the narrative Liminal Winter holds onto. Any semblance of life is limited to a gruelling solitary traversal through dense, numbingly-cold silver sheets.

Snowflake is the most ominous display of melancholia, bells and a deep piano melody ringing like a soporific lament, that calls through the wind and whiteness like a spectral memory. The track features interpolations of Howard Blake’s Walking in the Air, often recognised through its use in Raymond Briggs’ animation, The Snowman. The usually wondrous melody takes on a brooding, almost gothic quality here.

Polar Explorations is more minimal, carrying the same sparsity as an unnerving cut from Aphex Twin’s ambient series. The crystallising wind lapping against you, even in your warmly-layered exterior, sends shivers down your spine in the form of creeping euphoric notes. Crystalize does just that – with the aid of barber beats architect Time Fragment, the icy shock of percussion and melody that push beyond the warping phased sounds leave a sting.

Even the industrial factories – spaces normally characterised by their bustling nature – lay empty. Sonar Ice Detection Center’s mechanical shrieks indicate a complete lack of life, save for the methodic beeping of consoles. Slush on the Pavement, a tongue-in-cheek title given the style that shrouds A Liminal Winter, breathes with bellowed horns proudly painting the grimy exterior of a factory structure smouldering deep in the night.

While the blizzarding landscape has frosted over the surroundings and choked life from a place, warmth is still present – in our memories, which Liminal Winter bolsters as the album’s core ethos. Veins of warm piano and melody. During A Liminal Winter’s final third, Winter Dreams almost lets the warmth of the sun crash through dark clouds with angelic, yearning choruses carried by chariot-like percussion, echoing against the streets as it lands majestically ahead of the listener.

What’s in practice is a solemn swirling, like that of an antique snow globe – each pale pallet emanating a wistful glow. The flurry is cold, but carries with it the precious buds of aged memories. The typhonic snowfall engulfs you, as you are whelmed like the surroundings slowly submerged by silvery dots. Flickery memories no more – they are no longer liminal, but felt, as the listener motionlessly welcomes them.