Stormloop: Snowbound*
Glacial Movements

Stormloop's Snowbound* would appear to be the quintessential Glacial Movements release in a number of respects. At a surface level, track titles such as “Cold Winds” and “A Blizzard” obviously perpetuate the frozen persona associated with the label, while “A Calm Reflection” and “Space Station J” namecheck the respective introspective and sci-fi dimensions of the recording and label, too. More significantly, the music itself, in this case by Leeds, England-based Kevin Spence, is also consistent with the cold-as-ice style presented on previous Glacial Movements releases. Even that's a rather oversimplified assessment, however, as the recording also features ample servings of warmth and humanity. Though Spence has been creating electronic and ambient recordings since 1999, Snowbound* is, in fact, his first recording on a record label.

Spence recorded the material in December 2009 during a time when snow had fallen for over two weeks, and the composer found himself creating the material while watching heavy snowfall accumulate and imagining himself lost in a remote cabin and hoping to survive the winter. “Snowbound” does, in fact, make the listener feel as if he/she has taken temporary refuge within a remote research facility in the hope of surviving the deep freeze outside the building's walls. Dangerously cold though they may be, “Cold Winds” nevertheless sparkle prettily in a way that masks their potentially lethal impact were one to foolishly expose oneself to them for any length of time. Amidst crystalline tinklings, said winds emit unearthly whistling sounds throughout “A Calm Reflection,” while ethereal choirs do much the same during “Dense Fog.” In a track such as “Drifting-Decent,” a rather New Age-like ambient quality emerges that's reminiscent stylistically of someone like Steve Roach, with the soothing character of Spence's material reinforced by its synthetic smoothness. The sci-fi aspect of the recording comes forth most prominently during “Space Station J” when lines of film dialogue appear alongside Spence's long, brooding tones. It's this arresting track in particular that elevates the album above the genre norm when the voice samples, brief as they are, bring an air of wonderment to the instrumental setting. It all adds up to fifty-four minutes of ambient-synthetic scene-painting of the kind that, in this case, evokes the image of a lone researcher marooned at the coldest place on the planet and desperately hoping to survive winter's seemingly never-ending onslaught.

January 2012