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RickJames, September 20th, 2009

Especially in this age, there are rarely any bands present that present remarkable pieces of work, leaving listeners befuddled about what should be said about them. Perhaps nothing should be said, and the listening adventure left up to the ears alone….

Paysage D’Hiver is a one-man project of Wintherr, associated with Kunsthall and the highly esteemed Darkspace. I originally investigated Paysage D’Hiver after witnessing many talks between Visionary and Droneriot about “PDH” inside of the metal chat (hint, hint, anyone?). After obsessing over sound clips provided by PDH through the Kunsthall website (www.kunsthall.ch), I finally stumbled upon this first demo recording. Endless consuming of the demo ensued, until I felt I could actually summarize the experience in words.

The power of this record remains in very simple, yet dynamic, conventions. First off, readers should be aware that, for the most part, PDH is not a Burzum clone or worship thereof; the entire gist of things differs largely. Steineiche, and the rest of the PDH catalog, is lo-fi and super-minimalistic, with extremely long songs, averaging at least in the ten minute range, all the way up to half an hour. That’s where about most of the Burzum similarities fall. The demo is four songs split in a half black metal, half dark ambient format, but all have a similar theme, which will be expounded upon later.

These songs aren’t some excessively redundant bulk. There is a thorough amount of songwriting done here to attest to that. The guitar work is simple, yet very effective. What is special about PDH is the atmosphere contained. Through all of the frostiness contained, there is a kind of intrepid wonder, or even awe, if it could be expressed in that manner. Riffs rise in such valiant strength that one could wonder whether he/she had scaled the Himalayas to the peak of Mt. Everest. The ambience of the keyboard strings, howling winds, with its own brand of emotion, shines clear. If any band could display the emotions of winter, this would have to be a top band, for all the bands that would claim to bask in ice and snow. The emotive gestures range from that of perplexing darkness, bottomless lacunas, even to ethereal ascension. What is brought about is this overwhelming feeling of timelessness, in all of its natural, primal expression.

Truthfully, also, the riffs as well as the other musical motifs in the other songs are related. The entire demo is something similar to that of a sonata-form piece. Sonatas are a classical pieces which contain an exposition, a development, a recapitulation (restating ideas from the exposition), and a conclusion. I am not stating that each piece is exactly part of the genuine sonata-form, respectfully; rather, I might say it has influenced Steineiche’s songwriting and perhaps its power of feeling. Notes and ideas articulated show in Wintherr’s presence to flourish and give an elegant touch to the songs themselves, retaining much relevance in each piece.

The inspirations here are carefully used, whether they are well-known or completely obscured. Paysage D’Hiver is varied in speed, at times quite expedient, at times doomy, at other times mid-tempo, while completely resorting to ambient backgrounds in others, giving off a certain air of the perpetually expanding Lustmord. The guitar work comes from what seems like tonality emphasis combined with striking resolutions and well placed rhythm shifts. This dynamic can possibly explain the emotive intensity brought forth in much of Paysage D’Hiver. Doomy riffs enrich the tone conveyed; the span between the end of “Die Baumfrau” and the “Der Baummann” intro pound with crushing rhythms, setting tone and revisiting with varying riffs and motifs.

The demo’s overall structure can be noticed by the amount of work that is placed into each piece used to complement the others. Although the songs themselves are not exceptionally complicated, the general work itself retains an accurate and precise description of what Paysage’s musical identity is: highly well-structured, with a simple format yet-meticulous detail, and cold-blowing, frozen landmarks and visages surrounding the impetus of its art. The demo is epic in many ways, from its stress on icy, raw atmospheres, to the free-flowing ability to strike a myriad of emotional forms. Even “Déjà Vu” could remind one of Queen (pun accepted) - notice the falsetto about six minutes in!