Longwinter have poured their hearts into this release. It’s brimming with soulfulness and melancholia,and perfectly showcases all the beauty that can be found in dark, emotive music.
Longwinter caught my attention last month when I checked out their new track “Burning Season”. The first thing that poked my curiosity was the instruments these guys played. As well as guitars, bass and drums, they had a violin and a pedal steel guitar. Now there are not many instruments that can express hardship, sorrow and melancholia like both of these stringed old-timers, so the sentimental side of me found this both soul-stirring and undeniably creative. Longwinter hail from Minneapolis, Minnesota and this is their second outing after 2020’s hugely atmospheric album Fires In Paradise. Now, what we have here is either a single or an EP, but with a running time of twenty eight minutes for two tracks, it’s an EP in my books. So, to share the same experience I did with Burning Season, this is what you need to do….find yourself a comfortable, solitary place to take refuge and put on the best set of headphones your finances will allow, and simply fall in love with its harrowing yet rousing beauty.
The title track “Burning Season” opens up with solemn violin strings that wail and dance in sorrowful and sombre eloquence. Perfectly balanced drums lumber over the violin strings while the steel guitar chords sinuously bend and bow into the background. The pace of the track is gradual and unhurried, allowing you to fall deep into the atmospherics of the music. As the emotion intensifies, guitars join the congregation and strum though their chords, sending ripples through the track, building on the emotion and depth that’s already been generated. You could be momentarily mistaken for thinking you’re in the flare-up of a Godspeed You! Black Emperor track with its rich wall of sound that is crying and bleeding emotion and melancholic energy. Longwinter have managed to encompass and compose that sense of togetherness, where every instrument is crying its heart out, aching with sorrow and reflective sympathy, bringing the track to a dramatic and almost frantic climax.
“American Dream/One Nightmare At A Time” continues with the sombre atmosphere that went before it. Gentle guitars and plucked strings open the track while hi-hats and cymbals are brushed and caressed. The melody here is patient and beautifully laced with warmth and emotion. What I really love about bands like Longwinter is the patience and the time they give for a melody or a hook to sink in. Sometimes it can be a little frustrating when bands arrive and hit that “sweet spot” but never maintain it, but thankfully Longwinter can see it, and when they hook you in, you find yourself getting lost in the track. Their hypnotic and transient sounds have you in their grip from that moment and you’re basking in the comfort of your musical “happy place”. You’re almost cocooned within the instruments, feeding off each simple key change and following every shifting harmony. This track is awash with that. Five minutes into the eighteen minutes, that gorgeous steel guitar takes centre stage and delivers that haunting and familiar country wail that perfectly blends with the guitars. The ambience is electric as synths and a spoken passage echo and carry high above the music, giving the whole experience great depth and air. However, it’s all eventually brought back to earth with deep, coarse violins and a rumbling drum section. In contrast, the guitars begin their ascent and slowly join the wall of sound. Patience is a virtue as the crescendo begins to take shape with all musicians enthralled in their art. Like the track name suggests, like one nightmare at a time, each instrument cries and weeps its way to the final flourish. It’s highly charged, it’s emotionally draining and it’s bloody brilliant.
Longwinter have created something truly inspiring, that’s big on emotion, and six feet deep in melancholy. It’s one of the best releases I have heard this year and will be an absolute thrill for anyone who enjoys patient, ambient, and atmospheric Post-Rock. Longwinter’s debut release was a triumph, but Burning Season sees them developing and mastering their sound. They are a band that are quietly going about their business for now. I don’t think it will be long before these guys get the break their talent deserves. Fantastic.