Hailing from Farnborough, England Marcus Welsh have been in various punk/indie/rock covers/bands but he always had a love for ambient music. His moniker for this creative endeavor is How Hot Is Your Cloud? and his first release is entitled Winter i. The album contains ten tracks, all of which come from field recordings that later were manipulated in the digital domain although some of the recordings simply sound like they were composed on a synth. Either way you look at it the end result is exactly the same and what you have here are some very sparse soundscapes. The music does take a meditative type patience at times to enjoy but fans of artists like John Cage, Keith Fullerton Whitman and even Fennesz may appreciate some the work on Winter i.
Despite a couple of songs, the tracks aren’t particularly musical but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. To quote John Cage, “If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.” If you can simply let sounds be sounds you should be able to enjoy this record.
Opener “Lethbridge, Alberta - December 13th 2014” is dark, ominous and on the verge of creepy. The thunderstorms combined with the humming synths and the sound of birds chirping is unsettling. As unsettling as the first track was “Southwest Trainline, Tisbury - January 7th 2010” may have it beat. The song is extremely atmospheric and just has an over feeling of being vacant.
Things start to become interesting on “End of Pier (In Bed) - 18th October 2014.” It sounds like the beginning of the Fennesz song “Glide” but never really goes anywhere else. “Open Window, Union Street - November 3rd 2004” is the most fleshed-out song on the album and is the centerpiece. The song is warm and contains fleeting moments of beauty. As it progresses the music is centered around quick flurries of notes and illuminating pads.
Even hardcore fans of ambient music may find this release hard to completely embrace. Some of the music works well on its own while some of it seems more fitted as a mood piece to accompany a film.
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