Winter Villains: Once There Were Sparks, Now There Are Ashes (Owlet Music)
LP/ CD/ DL
The second album by Cardiff-based Chamber Pop outfit, Winter Villains recently dropped. Simon Tucker reviews:
The times they are a changing. Economies crumbling, enviromental concerns play on many a mind, there is conflict everywhere you look. Into this uncertainty comes Once There Were Sparks, Now There Are Ashes by Winter Villains, an album that seems to not only draw your attention to the twisted human condition but also leads you on a path to right wrongs and shines a light on ways things can be changed.
This is not punk-protest either, this is beauty solidified. It’s an album that falls in with the crop of artists all quietly making devastating music such as A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s or Nils Frahm, artists who have embraced song forms from aeons ago and made the classical relevant. The rise in popularity of the neo-classical movement can be seen as a reaction to the continued bombardment of media, the 24 hour news agenda and the blah blah blah of modern living and Once There Were Sparks, Now There Are Ashes is the perfect antithesis to the white-noise grind.
Warmly and subtly produced, the creak of timbre and the thrum of gentle electronics bathe the mind in a richly textured way making this easy to listen to but not easy listening.
Songs Empire and Hunters play out like dark lullabies with the former reading like a promise to future generations that the band will do whatever necessary to secure their freedoms and to conserve the planet on which they will walk.
OTWSNTAA is full of unexpected twists and turns like the deep ambient nature and backwards vocals of Comatose, or the steady increasing of pace in Part 1 So The Battle Begins. There is even some murky rapid-fire percussion that shines and disappears in We’re Stuck With This Beauty, which is an extreme highlight.
With this album, Winter Villains have created a subtle classic that branches throughout genres. A great listen.
All words by Simon Tucker, find his Louder Than War archive here.