The Hunter In The Snow – A Contemplation On Pieter Bruegel‘s Series Of The Seasons

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Anemone Tube w/Jarl & Monocube
The Hunter In The Snow: A Contemplation On Pieter Bruegel‘s Series Of The Seasons
The Epicurean / Aufabwegen (CD/DL)

SPLIT VISIONS: I’m always intrigued when artists are inspired by or in some way take their interpretation of a concept as disparate as art from another realm altogether. Here we have the fruit of a half decade-long effort, industrial exculpations by German field recordist/sound sculptor Anemone Tube (Stefan Hanser), Swedish industrial composer Jarl (Erik Jarl) and the incredible Ukranian sound artist Monocube paying homage to formative Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel’s (the Elder) seasonal paintings (circa mid 1500s), expertly mastered by James Plotkin — all packaged up quite beautifully with several depictions of the lauded artist’s works on canvas.

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The often gloomy, but necessary subject matter of hard-working peasants (like the artist himself) give great foil for these modern day sound sculptors, and they do not disappoint. Opening with The Gloomy Day Anemone Tube & Jarl deliver a mercurial set of synthesized bells, drones and whistling wind that piques the deepest of wide-open space. It’s a mystical rendering that howls with striking incandescence. As the two collaborators move forth with The Hay Harvest they combine a low grind with a modest drone that billows, the effect makes for something secluded and enigmatic, with added muffled voices, as if the peopled paintings come to life as the workers toil. If you pair the oils with the sounds you almost get this in-situ experienced, channeled through this re-envisioned work.

The Harvesters (+ Monocube) incorporates a delightful modular synth and field recordings of waves and other natural anomalies. This is far more murky than the previous pieces, and includes the sound separation imposed by large machinery that eventually mutes into murmurs. It’s bleak but so layered it’s impossible to turn your ear away. This perhaps finds a pattern between turn-o-the-century classic industrialism references and the way in which people had to develop as sophisticated ways to reap and sow in an era sans electricity or vehicles to do the heavy lifting. It’s a bit of a miasma.

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The only solo work by Anemone Tube is The Return Of The Herd which keeps with the darkened theme. The setting is thick with a sense of slowness, of a long cycle repeating itself and shifting as if aided by Mother Nature. This is a searing ambient bloated in nebulous sleepy drones. On the title track, The Hunters In The Snow, all three artists come together for a nearly nineteen minute long journey that is far more ratcheted-up than previous. It’s a bit of a burring whir of bubbling blur at first. It feels as though you are central within a cosmic factory slowly churning out a way to best retrofit wares for the future. There’s a deep-seated melancholy here, it’s emoting with a palpable yearning sense. And the track only gets colder, denser, sub-zero from there.

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