Midnight Sun was a fine release, an album that grew more menacing as it progressed and lent its attention to the landscapes of the Arctic Circle. Its only downside was its need for a firm edit. Parhelion‘s new release is leaner, meaner, and more powerful as a result.
When soundscaping the regions of ice, one must make decisions regarding timbre. Many artists choose to go ultra-minimal to reflect the sparse beauty of the wide open spaces. A popular choice is the ambient wash. Another is the incremental morphing of single chords. Thankfully, Parhelion chooses to go vast, eschewing the uplifting tones of nature films in favor of something larger and more dangerous. His music sounds less like glaciers at rest than glaciers caught in motion as their faces fall into the sea, generating waves that are large enough to swamp a cruise vessel. By veering more toward the dark ambient end of the spectrum, the artist inspires an awe that borders on dread. His deep blue imaginings form the core of Temples in Ice.
Three tracks in 23 minutes is just about perfect. The EP opens with field recordings that sound like thick ice cracking and breaking, stalactites shattering against stone. A cold, swift dripping follows, imitating the effects of sun on an ice cave. A series of deep rumblings unmoor any sense of comfort. If Dan Simmons’ The Terror were ever to receive a score, Temples in Ice would be ideal. “Reflections in Ice” adds gentle bells that chime like icicles and ritual drums that pound like a sluggish Inuit heart, rising mid-piece to an organ-like peak of hushed awe. The crackling returns with a vengeance in the finale, creating a sense of completion, a circular journey from which the listener returns altered. The unmerciful wind that whips through the final seconds sounds like an echo of a memory, a reminder that the northern regions can be left behind, but that once experienced, they can never be escaped. (Richard Allen)