Album Review: Winter Dust – Sense By Erosion

Winter Dust Sense By Erosion cover
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I’m going to make a bold claim.

The 2015 EP Thresholds by Italian sextet Winter Dust is one of the best releases you’ll find in the world of post-rock.

I still remember when I first heard Winter Dust. It was during a walk to work on a frosty winter morning. I used to love that time of morning, and used those walks as an opportunity to get into a good frame of mind for the day ahead. It was especially cold. The grass on the park was coated in white crystals, and I blew jets of steam with every breath. I had headphones on and was listening through the new Open Language compilation that A Thousand Arms had recently released.

It was a good collection of songs. I already knew a handful of tracks, from the likes of Tides of Man, I/O, Ranges, We Lost The Sea and Dumbsaint. But many bands were new to me.

The one that stopped me in my tracks was “There”, by Winter Dust.

That night I logged onto Bandcamp and downloaded Thresholds as soon as I got home. Months later a vinyl copy arrived in the post [I believe the first order got lost in the post so they sent me another]. I love that EP so much.

And now we have a follow-up: Sense By Erosion.

It’s exactly what I wanted: Thresholds, but more. Intense emotion, anguished hardcore vocals, sublime instrumental passages and visceral dynamics.

The many Marco’s have exceeded themselves this time. (four of the band members have the same name, along with Fabio and Carlo). Some of them live in separate countries, so I can’t begin to fathom how they managed to write this masterpiece. Yes, the internet is amazing, but nothing can substitute human contact when you’re communicating and creating with each other.

Sense By Erosion starts of as many post-rock releases do: softly building up. The track “Quiet January” quietly loops on itself, building with intensity as dialogue plays in the background. Then, just as it built up, it then slowly decays in waves.

“Duration Of Gloom” continues the build up with a good groove, slowly growing. The playful melody that floats above the main riff is a nice use of treble. Then BAM, distortion and cathartic roaring. I always find it fascinating when foreign bands choose to sing in English. Then again, I can hardly tell what they’re saying unless I pay close attention anyway. These post-hardcore vocals are one of the marked improvements that Thresholds and Sense By Erosion have over Winter Dust’s earlier output, giving the music a huge injection of urgency and feeling.

This song has me sighing with delight. This is what I want: emotional, energetic music that kicks me right in the feels and leaves me winded. Just like with Thresholds, I feel so consumed and swept away by the music. It’s so engrossing: Hard hitting drums, tremolo guitar, and a raw undercurrent. Then, once you think it’s all over, a calm bridge to let you catch your breath and ease you into a false sense of security. Before BAM, back into the intensity. If you listen carefully during the soft outro, you’ll hear church bells faintly ringing in the distance.

If you can’t tell yet, I’m a big fan. Loud or quiet; heavy or soft; sung or instrumental, Winter Dust just nail the mood.

At first, “All My Friends Are Leaving Town” seems like a softer song, although it picks up later on. One passage features a weird reversed effect. Maybe they’ve subtly backmasked messages that brainwash me into loving the music?

“Composition Of Gloom” is the second song with the word ‘gloom’ in the title. Funnily enough, the absence of vocals makes it feel like an interlude, despite the fact that one of the defining aspects of the post-rock genre is lack of singing. That, and the fact that it’s the shortest song.

Again, “Disharmony” is by no means weaker, but the lack of vocals is noticeable. Ironically enough, I found lead single “Cruel Jane” is one of the songs that makes the least impact for me, with the first half feeling soft and meandering. This is not to say these songs are bad, but they don’t offer as much oomph as the tracks from the first half of the record.

Their blurb on Bandcamp states “Our new album is ideally divided in two, the nervous part and the heartening part. It’s a record about leaving people, leaving places, parting ways, losing things.” This makes total sense. And I’m not sure what that says about me, that I prefer the nervous part, but as you can tell, I’m very much drawn to those songs.

It’s a shame that we don’t hear much piano in the mix throughout this album, but they make up for it with album closer “Stay”. After a tumultuous emotional ride, this is the touch of hope at the end of the album to send us on our way in good spirits, with a parting gift of ambient tranquility.

I simply love this album. I feel so strongly about it, but at the same time find it hard to articulate exactly why. I think the intense evocative nature of the music certainly resonates with me in a way that few others can. By taking the beauty of post-rock, the intensity of hardcore and the emotional aspects of emo, Winter Dust have fused their own sound that ticks all the right boxes for me.

Thresholds EP, was an underrated masterpiece. Sense of Erosion is the logical progression: taking all components of its predecessor, and building upon them to create something longer and more fully realised. I had high expectations of this album, and I’m delighted to say they’ve been met.

Winter Dust

Winter Dust links:

Bandcamp: https://winter-dust.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/winterdust

Twitter: https://twitter.com/winterdustmusic

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/winterdustmusic/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1wcxnlsMklfqJ_QurUuGVQ

Joseph James

Album Review: Platonick Dive – Overflow

PLATONICK DIVE - OVERFLOW COVER
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As much as I love post-rock and associated instrumental music, I seldom venture into digital based music. I’m a purist that likes to listen to music played on instruments instead of computers. I know that some post-rock bands and lots of hip-hop artists I listen to are quite sample heavy, but I always prefer live instrumentation. For example, I’ve enjoyed seeing some hip-hop bands like The Roots and David Dallas (with his backing band The Daylight Robbery) far more than seeing other rappers that have DJs or backing tracks.

Maybe I need to get with the times. Many of New Zealand’s major current music exports (Kimbra, Lorde, Broods, Brooke Fraser) are all headed in that direction, but I’m not really interested most of that stuff.

So when I listened to Overflow, the forthcoming album from Italian four piece Platonick Dive, my opinion was quite divided. A lot of it sounds like 65daysofstatic to me – post-rock with a heavy electronic element. I don’t mind music like that, but it’s certainly not my preference. That said, sections of Overflow were really striking and caught my attention.

platonick dive promo 1

I’ve previously listened to the song “Træ” from Platonick Dive that featured on a Nothing But Hope and Passion compilation. This was off Platonick Dive’s first album “Therapeutic Portrait”. I liked the song but it isn’t a fair introduction to Overflow, because the second album is a change of direction for the band. This is a deliberate move. “We are in a continuous artistic movement”, their press release says, “the most dangerous thing you can do is to stay still”. This is a band that is ever changing, and always experimenting. Trying to push the envelope is one thing, but does it make the music convoluted when it’s heading in too many directions?

Not really. There is a lot of influences at play here, but it seems to work. The album is well produced. Parts reminds me of one of Platonick Dives’ contemporaries – electro/ambient outfit worriedaboutsatan. The music is crisp, deliberate, moody. And plenty of it is clearly electronic. The track “From Seattle To Berlin” is full of glitches and DJ style scratches, a feel that continues throughout the album.

The instrumentation is interesting. I am a drummer, so of course the excellent drumming and percussion stood out to me. Keyboards are quite dominant. There are all sorts of other sounds and instruments utilised, many of which come from a computer. I quite liked the part in “High Tide” that sounded like marimba or xylophone.

Some songs feature singing. The vocals on “Mirror” especially stood out to me. For a predominantly instrumental band, I suggest they have a serious rethink about their style. Hiding a voice as good as that is wasteful.

And of course the album includes the obligatory samples, like Maybeshewill would use in their early material. “Geometric Lace” features a sample about marijuana, and “Back Home Boulevard”  includes a quote about junkies, so I think it’s fair to say drugs influence the band in some way.

I feel like I’m a bit out of my element here because although it’s similar to some music I listen to, it’s at the same time quite different. I could allude to genres like electronica, trip-hop, dubstep, house… but I’m really not an authority on those matters. If I had to describe the songs “Above You” and “Reverb Nation” I’d have to use the phrase “beep boop boop”. Platonick Dive’s Facebook page categorises their genre as “Electronic Therapy With Feedback Explosions”, so I guess “beep boop boop BOOOOOM” would be more apt.

This is an album that I would expect to hear in a café. Background music that is a bit unusual and ‘arty’, but not something I’d chose to listen to at home. It is well crafted, and I enjoy parts of it, but I think at the end of the day I still prefer to listen to music that is actually played by people, more so than computers.

If you like post-rock and you’re not as uptight as I am about music being ‘real’ or ‘live’, then I’m sure you will enjoy Overflow.

Overflow releases on February 17th 2015