Linear Bells ~ Over & Over

OverThe white rose, a symbol of purity, arises out of the long-form drone. Her thorns entwine around the orb of drone, masking as thin, crisp crackles that are sharp to the touch. Scratching against the window pane on a cold yet clear afternoon, the rose desperately wants to reach the warmth but finds herself unable to do so.

The rose, poetic in its ancient association with love and beauty, doesn’t find itself the object of affection on Over & Over. It’s trapped in the cold spell, just after love has departed. Linear Bells is prolific, but he doesn’t compromise the music’s quality. Over & Over is lucid ambience, permanently stuck in a cold place. The arctic temperatures that shiver North America to the bone breathe out their white puffs of frozen air, helping the music turn to ice.

The cello is shy when it comes to ambient drone music, and it’s refreshing to hear the strings out of their original modern composition / classical context. Swelling and then falling back, the cello doesn’t stay for long, as if she too were feeling the cold. Instead, she chooses to come and go, with different phrases and different, moody tones.

The cello can enjoy a deep, warm timbre, but it can also be a blunt, dusky and bleak instrument. Linear Bells has given the music a beautiful edge, where the looped petals of drone are showered in the golden stature of the instrument. One gets the sense that without the cello, Over & Over would be a frost-bitten icicle, the rose surrendering to the blast of icy air, the petals crushed and the crumbling roots retreating back into the concrete soil.

A deep blue loop keeps the atmosphere sedate as a low lying drone slowly rotates, cycling continuously. The rain trickles, dripping onto the strings. Ornate on her icy throne, she shines through the cooler air like sunshine in winter. The stark sound of the cello rubs against the pale glass, but the velvet drone soothes the music with its smooth, untroubled texture.

A drum kick-starts into life, lightly syncopating beside the drone. The inclusion must have seemed a risk, but it works perfectly. The clipped beats change the contour and the dynamic with subtlety, while pushing the drone forcibly forward. Over & Over is patient, and with its classy, ornate instrumentation it lives, frozen. And the rose is queen of the garden. (James Catchpole)

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