The Declining Winter - Haunting the Upper Hallways

Miss Fliss 17/07/2009

Rating: 4/5

The way the rain has been pelting down and the thunder has been cracking away in the south of England today, with grey skies looming large, it's an apt idea to get all toasty and warm and curl up with some ambient wintry music. The Declining Winter conjure up whorls of melancholic emotion much like the slower, gentler moments of their post-rock alma mater Hood (Richard Adams is a core member of both bands).

Largely instrumental, Haunt the Upper Hallways is a delicately sad affair. Thrums of electronic bass underpin cascading keyboard tones, creating layers of lush and monumentally sad sounds. Sometimes these keyboard sounds fall like rain (as in the recurring Hey efd), sometimes they soar like string sections (the Outside Closer era Hood chime, clatter and epitome of aching found in the title track). There are also harp hues that chime away with grand cinematic notions. Hints of Richard's love of hip-hop seep through at times, with persistent rhythmic drums or samples that have been fed through backwards melding into the more organic textures, so there is no escaping the musical mould formed by Hood as it echoes here loud and strong. But the lo-fi indie and pop leanings are not in sight. This is an album for those pensive moments, and a ramble in the countryside when the horizon is wrought with heaviness could not find a more ideal soundtrack. When oboe mixes with electronica feedback and sombre strong bass guitar with Carta Remix, the album reaches its absolute climax - this song hovers with emotive poignancy, like the most wistful of laments. It's incredible.

Slow, sensitive, subtle ambient electronica is the order of the day with The Declining Winter, and Haunting the Upper Hallways stands as another fine achievement in Richard Adam's canon.

Haunt the Upper Hallways is out now on Home Assembly Records.

Declining Winter Myspace

Home Assembly Records