Ambient label Hibernate have relaunched, returning from a lengthy hiatus – pulling out of their own musical hibernation – well rested, and awakening to a new era despite the steady, soporific state of their new output. Anthéne’s Colour Fields bends and slowly stirs, its head ruffling the pillow and its ambient body grazing the sheets with the first tentative signs of movement after a deep sleep.
Its eyes begin to open, and the synths begin to drink in the light. As soon as those lidded shutters are pulled up, the music floats on legs it doesn’t own, levitating in its warm, self-fulfilling light. Colour Fields is a rural form of ambient music, evocative of wide-open plains and swaying oaks drunk on the promises of summer. The music lives in and is a part of an endless field, existing in the fabric of every blade of grass, in a budding lavender bush and a late-to-wake patch of bluebells, oversleeping like a hungover teenager who forgot to set the alarm.
The ambient is jettisoned, spreading outwards like a sprinkling of dandelion seeds. The music is as delicate as a wing – one touch, and it would crinkle and crease. In terms of length, Colour Fields is a short release, but it’s perfect as it is, and there should be no time scale when it comes to music. After all, a longer album doesn’t necessarily mean a better album, does it? That train of thought can ruin a musician, who is then forced into lengthening (and subsequently weakening) the album: that kind of obesity and excess is rife in a culture that can’t get enough. Less is always more, and as soon as you start pandering to the thoughts of others, the music ceases to be your own.
Hibernate’s new season also includes a new album from Mind Over MIDI. Tussmørke’s quivering, grey-skinned synth reminds one of early science-fiction, while the more pronounced use of electronics adds a good deal of mystery to the music, complete with a dome-shaped flying saucer and all the clichés that accompany such an image. Something has landed in this quiet field, and the cows don’t like it. But the landing isn’t an obvious craft, less an iconic image embedded in popular culture and more like something that stealthily creeps around in the undergrowth. A snaking synth seems to exude a strange form of radiation, capable of incinerating an entire harvest of crops with a mutated form of vitamin D.
Water-like melodies run alongside the gentle tweets of birdsong. The melodies themselves seem to hover, lying low over the treescape. Its skin-tearing temperatures quietly and methodically decimate, but the surrounding atmosphere is a stormy sky, a colour close to malignant lead, and as lethal as a speeding bullet. Beats are suppressed, draping low over the background like a metallic curtain.
The music’s picked up like a radio wave, but it’s hard to tune out of its frequency once it arrives. You feel it in the pit of your stomach, a steady trickle of indistinct rain or a treble-thin rustling which not only nestles into the mix but invades it, recurring throughout the album along with a skidding synth and the sound of trampling. Those hurried footsteps litter the album – the owner of those worn shoes is running from something, chased through a mile-long cornfield. With its recurring themes and lightless copses, it’s not exactly dark ambient… but it has been exiled.