Review Summary: Cold atmospheres, raging guitars and the occasional beautiful melody.
Paysage d'Hiver is the solo project of Wintherr, having released 10 demos and 2 splits over the course of the bands very productive career. The releases are extremely limited, almost never on CD format, and can be difficult to find (even in mp3 format). The S/T album is no exception, being limited to 300 copies (although a re-release has just been printed in CD format). It is often hard to compare the works of this band as all I have are tape rips of the releases (the tapes sell out at an insane rate).
The cd is divided into three songs, but if you have the rip that I have you will find the last two songs merged into one due to the nature of where the songs are on the sides of the tape. Anyway, the demo starts out with quick distorted tremelo guitars similar to Darkspace's faster sections (note that Wintherr also plays in Darkspace). The music blasts on for several minutes in a monotonous drone creating a very atmospheric environment. If you are not the type to digest poor production or very long songs (the first being 20 minutes, the second 33) then I would not recommend that you begin your delving into black metal with this cd. What can be found here is remarkable however if you get past the (very fitting) bad production. There are moments of extremely amazing atmosphere, such as the violins in Welt Aus Eis which create a huge contrast between the pounding drum, screaching guitars, and distorted vocals. The violins provide a calm and smoothly melancholic melody that juxtaposes the chaos of the rest of the music. Tempo changes are also employed for maximum effect. Compositionally there are no flaws in the arrangement of the songs.
Paysage d'Hiver translates to winter landscapes, it the music does exactly that. While books may focus on developing characters through text the music here actually develops the imaginary environment through music. If you have heard Burzum's Det Som Engang var (the song), you know what I mean. Excellent balance of synths and guitar/bass/drums/vocals. The music even employs acoustic breaks and then goes back to a section that is totally different without disrupting the flow. It's hard to describe, one must hear it to understand it.
It's hard to find an album that can help stimulate more fantastic thoughts than this album, that is why it essential to approach this cd with the correct mindset. Listening to for musicianship and seperate instruments is completely beside the point. The only intent Wintherr's music has it to create a cold atmosphere, and if you allow yourself to try and understand this the album will make a lot more sense. If you are the type of person who looks for technicality and musicianship than I would rate this a 2/5 for you. Half of the music has absolutely no melody that can be hummed or even remembered, but it is all the more beautiful when a melody does enter the music, as it is arranged and composed so effectively. A must have for all fans of Vinterriket, Burzum, and Darkspace.
Re-release available in A5 digipak format from Cold Dimensions.