Winter music in summertime? The thought may sound strange in the Northern Hemisphere, but with a touch of fall chill in the late summer air, Overwintering is a hint of things to come. The short album was inspired by the change of seasons, beginning in autumn, so the timing of the release is just perfect. The listener is able to tune into the recording just as the events are taking place.
Last year at about this time, Boston’s Devin Underwood (Specta Ciera) began to watch the birds migrate and the leaves slowly lose their green. This created “a sense of abandonment and isolation”, which he then translated to this recording. As the album progresses, the sounds grow ever sparser, and one can feel the oncoming chill. The rain that falls in the opening track is replaced by wisps of wind on the closing couplet. A synthesized squall in “Surrounded by it all” sounds like an electronic version of snow grains.
While the nature of the recording is ambient, numerous field recordings provide the impression of a real-life event. The aforementioned rain is followed by deep-toned chimes on the title track, lending the project the timbre of a Buddhist temple. Thundersnow launches “Up into the corner”, and is soon joined by lightly-struck bells. The deep chimes and soft precipitation return on “Words over wind”, implying holiness in isolation. Could this be the last call to worship before the white incursion?
For those who prefer winter to summer (and there are quite a few), Overwintering will arrive like an early gift. Those who prefer summer may be able to resist its charms – at least for now. Australians are already in the midst of winter; the rest of us will get there soon enough. For now, we’ve got this soundtrack to the long, slow descent. (Richard Allen)