Lawrence English provides the mastering, Katie English the art, and Tehran’s Tegh & Kamyar Tavakoli end up with one of the most un-Hibernate sounding releases ever on the label. The EP sounds more like a bear that has been awoken from hibernation. Loud, thick and brash, Through the Winter Woods is a welcome late-season surprise.
When one thinks of winter woods, one thinks desolate, quiet, cold. The first still holds true, the second not at all, and the third is hard to gauge. Tegh & Kamyar Tavakoli’s drones sound like a harsh storm in a barren landscape. Lead track “Hollow” is like wind rushing through a large construction pipe filled with leaves. Outside, the crows are cawing, hoping a meal will be trapped. As the volume rises, the tension follows. If “Hollow” was indeed “inspired by their urban surroundings,” one fears for their lives.
Not that it gets any quieter from there. The duo (who also records as Artirial) adds a bit more form to “Fractal”, but it’s like adding snow to a cloud. No edges are apparent, only a slow gathering and dissolution of sound. In the early moments, a pulse holds the whole thing together; as the drones congeal, the pulse is swallowed by wave upon synthesized wave. This hostile takeover awakens a second, static-filled pulse, which takes the place of the first like a father rescuing a son. Even without his hands at the helm, one would think of English, who is accustomed to working in such territories. But it’s a new region for Tegh (Shahin Entezami), whose solo work rests further toward the ambient side of the spectrum; he even recently curated the compilation “We Like Ambient” for the label. His background is apparent in the closing track, but is offset by a distorted voice. Only in the closing minutes might a listener recognize the connection between his works, specifically to “The Memories Are Killing Us,” which also included guitar and vocal distortion. But this direction is a better one for Tegh and his partner, and a sign that Hibernate may also be expanding its borders. (Richard Allen)