Sometimes a piece of music appears out of the blue and stops one in one's tracks. That's exactly what happened when I put on Linear Bells' Winter Haze and its opening piece “Frozen Red Lips” flooded the room. During its twenty-three minutes, gauzy tones endlessly stretch out, resulting in a softly humming mass of celestial character that unfolds in slow-motion. The music, ethereal ambient of a particularly potent vintage, floats gracefully as if suspended in mid-air, and tension repeatedly builds when a given tone extends so dramatically that one desperately awaits its resolution.
If the album's subsequent three settings aren't quite as arresting, they're certainly credible enough complements to that beautiful opener: “Outside Me” is less delicate by comparison and texturally rougher, too, as tiny noises scrape along the edges of a blurry mass that churns turbulently, though not so violently that the material feels ready to combust; field recordings figure prominently in “Rain Snow Alcool” as outdoors sounds of flowing water and campfire crackle accompany the otherwise willowy content, an effect that makes it sound as if “Frozen Red Lips” has been transplanted from its self-contained universe and placed within a wintry woodland wilderness; at album's end, “Winter End” proves to be more industrial than ambient in tone when huge slabs of guitar- and organ-generated washes hover like immense black clouds.
Linear Bells, by the way, is the work of David Teboul, a sound artist based in Nantes, France who applied processing and manipulations to field recordings, guitars, and organ to generate the hour's worth of material presented on Winter Haze. The recording, which emerged over the course of six months of improvising and subsequent sound-sculpting, clearly shows him to be no slouch in the ambient soundscaping department.