WINDOW WEATHER: Something In The Darkness
I’m writing this review on a plane. The turbulence is seriously starting to irritate me, and I’ve probably had a total of 9 hours sleep over the whole weekend. Yet despite my current uncomfortable situation, I am grateful to be listening to high quality new music from electronic trio; Window Weather. Their unreleased debut EP Something In The Darkness was sent to me a few days ago, but will be made available to everyone else this Friday (26/10/18).
I’ve heard it around 7 or 8 times by now, and each time find new elements that I love. When I first read the title of this EP I figured it could potentially be some depressing heavy metal (I’m an idiot, I know). Of course as soon as I pressed play, I realised that this was not the case. Instead, I was instantly transported into an imaginary, mist-covered, serene lake, with colours of grey, pale blue and white surrounding my thoughts. I don’t think this is merely music; it’s an experience. Immediately, I entered a calmness that I’ve only really gotten from listening to emotional piano compositions, or that particular instrumental part of The Mamas and The Papas 'California Dreamin’' (you know the one). Using a combination of live and electronic instruments, Window Weather have managed to create an atmosphere that plunges my mind into warm water.
When the vocals came in for 'If You Only Knew' (my personal favourite), I was reminded of Isaac Slade’s (The Fray) soft, melancholic voice. As I continued to listen, I was drawn in by the emotion, and enjoyed how this smooth, familiar yet unique, voice glided over the top of calm synth drones, melodic guitar and relaxed percussion. This song felt like a journey, with minimalistic composition that was effective in allowing space for the music to breathe.
The second track, ‘Unspoken’, awoke me from my mellow trance and reminded me that faster melodies do still exist. By this point, I’m thoroughly enjoying the atmospheric background noises that add depth to the music. You have to listen to ‘Unspoken’ right to the end, as the middle 8 is intense and feels as though it’s been built up the entire song. It’s certainly a sweet release, and you are left with the final lingering melodies ready to transition into ‘Ghosts’.
I’d already listened to this song several times prior to receiving the EP, however I was now able to understand and experience it fully in context of Something in The Darkness. This track draws elements from both previous tracks; melancholic vocals and atmospheric instrumentation. It depicts both the calm and the storm, and while listening I can envision an ocean time-lapse. The symbols are the crashing waves, synths the wind, guitar is the boat bobbing up and down on the water, and the vocals are the lonely sailor. And although I’m imagining some distant scene on the Atlantic, the song is still personal and makes me feel as though I am a key listener to Window Weather’s message.
'Atlas', the final track on the EP, begins with what sounds to me like raindrops. This time the smooth vocals follow a simple melody, with focus on the lyrics, as if the singer is whispering poetry. The drawn out top line contrasts to the continuous drops and unlike the other tracks, the guitar takes a back seat, allowing this song to shine a spotlight on the words. About halfway through, I realised a heart-beat inspired percussion had begun. I found myself believing it was my own heart and that the lyrics of the song were now the thoughts in my own head. I’m not exactly sure how Window Weather have done it, but they have created music that feels as though it is flowing from one ear to another, right through my brain, then through my veins all around my body, like an electric shock in slow motion.
This EP manages to embody the exact definition of Window Weather. Listening to their music, I truly feel as though I am looking outside at a beautiful storm, yet am so warm, safe and calm inside. Something In The Darkness is more than soft, electronic music; it’s a unique experience and I can’t wait for the rest of you to fully hear it as I have. I caught up with Sam, Ollie and James to ask them a few questions about their upcoming release. Read on to hear more about their formation, inspirations and creating their debut EP:
How did you guys meet?
Ollie: I became friends with James as our first year at university progressed because we were on the same course, then we both met Sam very soon before the band started.
James: I loved Sam’s voice from the start, and love the idea of having a unique line-up (no bass player) so the band sort of started from there!
Ollie: We suggested maybe meeting up one day to jam together and alongside filming and recording a cover of John Mayer’s ‘Slow Dancing in a Burning Room’ (which is still on our YouTube!), then we put together a few original ideas.
Sam: We definitely bonded over our shared enthusiasm and adoration for creativity as opposed to our music tastes.
Where do you rehearse?
James: We rehearse at the Birmingham City University studios where Ollie and I study.
Ollie: The great thing about being at university is the easily accessible and free resources. Definitely worth taking advantage of for the next two years!
What inspired you to start creating electronic music?
Sam: We all agree that the best stories are not only told lyrically, but equally through the emotional characteristics of different music styles. I didn’t grow up listening to electronic music, however, I have grown to see how the sound design that is typical of the genre are invaluable when trying to explore a deeper narrative.
Ollie: I listen to a lot of electronic music anyway, and have been writing it to a very amateur standard for a few years. I like its versatility to blend with almost every style and ‘electronic’ is a blanket term for many genres, so it can appear anywhere. I think that now, there are so many new artists out there that to really make an impact, you have to push yourself to be unique and creative. Utilisation of various pieces of modern technology when writing, recording and performing live, allows you do almost anything you can imagine and make sure you can carve your own niche in a crowded space.
James: For a long time, I wrote much heavier music, but over the last few years I have discovered a love for calmer music. I became obsessed with the album ‘Dark Eyes’ by Half Moon Run and discovered new music through listening to that. I also study music technology so have been experimenting with electronics and synthesis for a while. Meeting the guys and finding our sound was the next logical step, as well as getting me back into writing music and playing live.
Individually, who are your inspirations?
Sam: In my experience, I am most inspired by stories that evoke the feeling of nostalgia as I like to think that this feeling encodes itself in everything we come to enjoy in life. Some of my favourite songwriters are Keaton Henson, Jackson Browne and Don Mclean. Although my music tastes are constantly changing, I still find myself going back to these few artists. It seems as my memories fade, these songs keep me close to the people and feelings I know are gone forever. I believe the most powerful feeling that music can create is the feeling of heartbreak, emotional paralysis and the longing for what’s impossible to reach. “Like a fire in the distance I can see but I can’t help.” - Aquilo. One of the saddest things in life is knowing that memories are just reproductions of linked data in the brain. Although you think you can see them as if they were yesterday, every time you imagine them they become further and further from the truth. I am inspired by people that find a way to truly capture these feelings, almost as if they are sealed in a bottle. My aim when writing music is that at least one listener will sit in the dark with their headphones on and let the song take them back in time.
Ollie: Although I listen to many different styles on a regular basis, for this music, Aquilo has been a big inspiration for me as well. I also very much like Oh Wonder and the home-made style of their first album. With regards to production, contemporary composers such as Nils Frahm and Max Richter are favourites of mine.
James: I am a huge fan of acoustic fingerstyle guitar players such as Jon Gomm and Mike Dawes. I try to combine that mind-set of playing the entire arrangement as one person with the addition of electronics.
If you could support any other artist, who would it be?
James: A band we all love is Aquilo. I’m sure we’d all love to open for them!
Sam: Also Flyte.
Ollie: I think Maribou State or Alt-J would also be extremely fun to open for!
Where did you record your debut EP?
James: We recorded at the Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham City University Studios where Ollie and myself study. A few of the parts were taken from our demos but most of it was recorded over a long period of time.
Ollie: I was away in the US for the majority of the writing and recording process. The drums are programmed and edited by myself from where I was. The live cellos were recorded by James in the concert hall at Birmingham Conservatoire!
Did you work with a producer or self-produce?
James: We self-produced on this project; during the recording process, Sam acted as the producer - concentrating on the performance details. As my background is in audio engineering; I took more of a recording engineer role focusing more on the sonic aspects of the sessions.
Ollie: Yeah most of the work was done entirely by us! We wrote everything from scratch, and mixed the whole EP. The recording was done by our friend Catharine Danielian (go check her out - brilliant engineer), and the mastering was done brilliantly by our friend Alex Price. This gave us a chance to step back at points and more easily view the project objectively to compare to music that is out currently.
What made you decide on releasing Ghosts as a single first?
Ollie: We wanted to release a song first that well represented what we thought was our sound. There are four songs on the EP, two of which have unique qualities to them. The other two are similar sonically and so we wanted one of them to be shown first. One of these songs is the first on the EP and we didn’t want to give away the beginning! Essentially it was process of elimination!
James: I also feel that it has the catchiest hook on the entire project as well as lyrically, it has a special emotional connection to both me and Sam.
What are you currently working on?
Sam: We have already mapped out the basis of where we want to take the sound next. We are really excited to see how our ever-changing influences will lead us in the next release.
Ollie: The main focus right now will be our O2 Institute show next month! We have new finished material out soon which is really exciting and the gig will be a great way to tie up the project thus far. Following that, we’re all going to be very busy with work for a year so it will be difficult to complete anything new for a while!
James: We’re constantly working on new music and sending each other ideas. Currently we’re just tirelessly working on our live set and trying to get it as tight as possible as well as getting the best sound we possibly can!
You’ve just had some interest from BBC introducing, what is your aim for next year?
Ollie: Yes! We were played on BBC Introducing West Midlands, a great way to get our music listened to by a wider audience! This year, the focus is to keep getting the word out about the band while we’re busy working in different cities. Next year we will all be living in Birmingham so it will be a good chance to work on new music and maybe plan some more live shows.
James: For me, I’d love to work on more original music and start on a larger project than our upcoming EP; allowing us to explore more conceptual ideas.
Sam: Some of the ideas that the guys have come up with for the next release have honestly given me chills. Everyday, I feel more and more like Something In the Darkness is like a blueprint ready to be taken apart and explored in much more depth as we grow as a band.
Check out their music here, and make sure to follow their socials to stay updated!