I have a winter tradition. When the first snow comes–and I mean the first real snow, not just some pre-winter flurry–I uncork a bottle of good red wine, usually a Syrah, then sit by my back window in the dark and watch the snow quietly blanket my world. It’s my way of paying tribute to the cycle of the seasons and welcoming the dying time. And now I have a soundtrack for my tradition: Altus’ lovely and melancholic Black Trees Among Amber Skies.
Respectfully somber without crossing over into being morose, Black Trees… is a perfect backdrop for introspection in any season. Mike Carss laces together long pads balanced on bass tones as solid as frozen ground, the feeling and pace suitably reminiscent of the slow and steady cascade of snowfall, of ice forming on branches, of the hush that ushers in the greyness of winter. In spots there are undertones of music both symphonic and sacred, and small swells of emotion that may cause you to momentarily have to catch your breath. This is one of those works that will find things in your soul that you had tucked away and ask you to think about them. (For me, this sensation is particularly strong in “Waiting for the Cover of White.”) This graceful hour-long flow is among the best of Altus’ extensive catalog and a prime example of how moving, deep and affecting ambient music can be. Please don’t wait for winter. Listen to Black Trees Among Amber Skies now. It’s a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.
Available from Altus’ web site.