Windy & Carl: Antarctica (Darla, 1997)

by Brent

Windy and Carl AntarcticaSure, Windy & Carl’s Antarctica may be seven years old as of this writing. But, how can I resist writing a review of a CD created to interpret the icy cold continent of Antarctica (on a site called “Somewhere Cold”)? In addition, when said site majors on dreamy, pensive, soothing music, how can we NOT have a review of Dearborn, MI’s masters of ethereal music, Windy & Carl? Such an omission from our catalogue of reviews is a glaring oversight, particularly when one considers the quality of music present on Antarctica.

Released as the second instalment of Darla Records’ innovative “Bliss Out” series (in which bands are invited to create music for listeners to ‘bliss out’ to), Antarctica contains 3 long tracks of icy atmospherics. The running time of the entire CD is 41 minutes, meaning that each track is much longer than the conventional tracks one hears on CD’s. Antarctica is unique, too, given the fact that the CD contains no vocals or percussion (unless crunching guitar feedback counts as percussion). Yet, what Windy & Carl  are able to do within their self-imposed restrictions is create an aural experience that somehow, mysteriously, conveys a voyage to the South Pole.

The title track, “Antarctica” starts things off with a dark, bass heavy moody collection of sounds. This track contains no discernable melody, and yet in spite (or because) of this, the track soothes the listener. Featuring an ominous sounding loop of under-girding feedback, mixed with shimmering guitar effects, “Antarctica” sounds to me like listening to a menacing blizzard approaching. Time seems to stand still, as the dark clouds approach and the wind picks up. Yet, despite this foreboding quality, “Antarctica” provides a wonderful soundtrack to contemplation or relaxation. “Traveling” follows, and provides, after 20 minutes of dark drones in “Antarctica”, a gentle melody played by intertwining effected guitars. The effect of the guitars playing these gentle sounds, mixed with the slight whisper of drones enveloping the song, provide a stunning aural experience. “Traveling” provides for the listener the feeling of gazing at the stars of the dark Antarctic sky. In fact, I can imagine that this track would be the perfect soundtrack to watching the Aurora Borealis (forget the fact for a moment that the Northern Lights are just that…the NORTHERN Lights, and not the Southern, Antarctic Lights). After gently coming to a climax, “Traveling” gradually dissipates into “Sunrise”. “Sunrise”, the shortest song on Antarctica, also contains the most melody and structure. After the storm of “Antarctica” and the icy night of “Traveling”, “Sunrise” offers the listener warmth in its melodies that have the same effect of a sunrise over a frigid landscape. A gentle bass plays the main melody, whilst higher effected guitar frequencies add depth in the ever evolving soundscape. “Sunrise” gives the listener just that, a track of ever-warming and soothing sounds.

Having had the opportunity myself to travel to the Northern wilds of the province of Quebec in Canada, I can relate to this music in a profound way. Antarctica, in its organic flow and subtle nuances, mirrors the deafening but comforting silence of the bleak landscapes I have experienced. Windy & Carl have accomplished the daunting task of creating visions with sound in a way that only perpetuates their acclaim as one of the top bands in the soundscape genres. Truly, Antarctica is an apt CD purchase for visitors of Somewherecold, and is highly recommended.

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