anthéne – orchid (Sound in Silence, 2017)

There’s a melancholia to Spring, anthéne would argue: whilst many seem to labour the point of its regenerative power and the much desired return to life that the season provides, there’s also loss. Loss at its conclusion, certainly, when the planet spins away and leans back from the Sun, cooling and killing in the process, but also in its arrival. Spring disrupts a crisp, quiet world with its energy and busyness, imposing change upon a stable and adamantine landscape: neither, of course, is in the wrong.

Hints of Winter’s presence are littered throughout, endless concerns at the transience of nature’s green periods; it’s most obvious in aptly titled “frozen path”, a shimmering, gilded piece that shines softly in its deeply sparse and cold airs, gleaming with such white resonance it feels like it could just crack and fracture at any moment. A current of aqueous bubbling is just discernible through the drones, a faint gurgling that suggests an imminent disruption, of subversive decay as the air warms and returns the earth to us. Its precursor “flora” feels this march into change even before, the living world sensing hemispherical revival through some innate perception as it glows in dark, deepening passages. Waves of drone fill the space like oxygen through stomata, grey and brown buds pulsing into proto-leaves and shoots in preparation for the return to life.

Opener “fauna” echoes the low energy state of the animal world through the cold times, soft drone sighs blossoming gently in expansive yet pale and pastel movements. There’s little power spare for motion at its early stage, each carefully constructed unfurling of sound considered intimately, every step a use of precious resources that must be accounted for. Still, there is beauty to be had in the stillness and quiescence during these times as “reflected light” extolls in its crystalline hums and daydreamy bass undercurrents. Guitar strands bend woozily, the world flaring as the eyes sweep over the landscape catching pockets of ice and water under a weak Sun, glancing rays over dew and hoar frost.

In amongst it all is a small gem, a sweet and overlooked little flower in a big world: “orchid”. As the title track it’s afforded the greatest length, and it uses it well; luxuriously it grows, serene lines that fill the eye with soft pinks and purples in shapely forms, flaring quickly as it moves from stem to flower in delightfully empowered fashion. It’s a brief flurry of activity though, the rapidity of its entry into life and colour almost as swift as its descent into pallor; the guitar drones shrink and cool, crinkles and scratches mar the music’s surface and before we know it we’re cycling down into decay. Why must these precious little things be so ephemeral, seeks closer “trace” in its thinned and strained, rarified atmosphere. Orchid seems like a distant memory now, Spring and Summer along with it; all that remains is an echo of their warmth and vibrance, etches upon neurons, imprints of colour and contours that line the passages of the mind until such a time as they can be refreshed, when the inexorable turning of the Earth rotates us back to light and heat. Until then, they’ll remain frozen and still, just like everything else.