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The sound of snow

2010
  1. The sound of snow part 1
  2. The sound of snow part 2
  3. The sound of snow part 3
  4. The sound of snow part 4
  5. The sound of snow part 5
  6. The sound of snow part 6
  7. The sound of snow part 7
  8. The sound of snow part 8
  9. The sound of snow part 9
  10. The sound of snow part 10

It seems that some places in the world can inspire a very specific kind of music more easily than others, and it is out of question that Scandinavian countries are the craddle of an easily recognisable, and highly regarded, type of ambient music. Maybe it is because of the isolation, the cold water, the lack of daylight, the snow in the trees... who knows. The undeniable truth is that many masterpieces in the ambient genre were born close to the Artic Circle.

Petter Friberg, the man behind the Motionfield project, is a musician and producer from Sweden who finds the inspiration for his themes in darkness, snow and the cold nature of his country. The sound of snow, his album from 2010, was released by the netlabel Fuselab and featured an artwork cover by Maxim Kiritchenko and Evgeny Shchukin. Divided in ten parts without titles, it is a superb example of that northern ambient we talked about before: sweeping layers of synths, gloomy rythmic patterns and minimal melodies within a very wet mix, with echoes and effects dripping here and there.

'Part 1' is the opening door: a hissing sound in the background is telling us that we are outside, walking around unprotected against the cold wind. The themes are not linked one into the next, but the mood flows unaltered all along the whole album. 'Part 2' is like an adagio for strings and deep pads, full of melancholy and loneliness. Even when the pace goes a little up, like in 'Part 3' or 'Part 7', The sound of snow is still not the sound of a sunny winter day.

The walk keeps going on while Motionfield's music conjures up images of snowed forests at sunset, or icy roads going to nowhere faintly shining at dawn. The one thing all the themes have in common is that there is no one around to be seen, and there is a general feeling of emptiness covering everything. Each theme, even the violin sounds in 'Part 6', seems to come directly from Nature itself, as if no human intervention was needed at all. The musician disappears within his music, and music is all that remains.

'Part 8' is the highlight of the album: quietness and silence, slow-motion falling snowflakes all around, elusive dancing lights in the darkness. The sound of snow is a gemstone of freezing beauty, harsh like the winter where it came from. By the time we reach 'Part 10', home's safety is too far away. The track slowly fades away, as does the album, as does the sound of snow, if there were any.

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