Linear Bells
Winter Haze






Winter Haze is a four-track EP by Nantes-based multi-instrumentalist David Teboul aka Linear Bells, self-released in February 2013, available to purchase and stream at Bandcamp, but only reviewed now and thus comparably late by me as part of my Winter Ambient Review Cycle of 2013. And what a poignant entry it is, not necessarily because of its name or the track titles, but due to the enthralling sound washes that are droning and traversing all over the EP. Or maybe meandering would be a fitting term, as the work is part of Teboul’s River Loire series which connects on site field recordings and the river’s aesthetics with Ambient compositions. The previously released Summer Haze was part already of this cycle. And this is also the case in terms of Winter Haze. Three long-form pieces and a slightly shorter closer make up the EP, and it is here where Linear Bells truly worships and respects the self-chosen title: the listener shall receive glacial, icy and frost-covered drone formations and the gurgling floatation of the river, but at the same time, Linear Bells silkens and veils these structures and makes their true origin unrecognizable for both the layman and the reviewer who, I might add, could well be the same person. Having used anything but a guitar, organ and field recordings, Teboul's EP feels stupendously synth-oid, as all traces or vestiges of the original instruments are generally elasticized, prolonged, diffused and blurred to the maximum. The result could be called a winter haze, and blimey, it obviously is called exactly that! Read more about one of the winter-related Ambient works that are to cherish, one to which I incidentally keep coming back and which is there to stay with me in the coldest of all seasons. 


Though not diametrically opposite, Winter Haze features different vistas.


Winter has always been about dilapidation and downfall, so a track title like Frozen Red Lips does not come as a surprise at all. The long-form opener of 23+ minutes, however, is not of the mortal, let alone Gothic kind, but breathes and absorbs the surroundings that waft through its innermost core. This very core is enshrined in poignantly glacial and wondrously superimposed synth zoetropes of the enmeshed kinds. A certain ethereality of the drone washes cannot be denied, but their textures are mercilessly translucent and icy in lieu of thickly wadded cloudlets or vibrant smoke. That the piece still feels full and vigorous is caused by two beneficial occurrences, firstly the various sinews and undertones which form a multiplexed beam that emanates vibrancy, and secondly the cautious shift to euphonious mauve-tinted hues which atomize bliss and centigrade thermal rapture. During its apex, Frozen Red Lips blooms and prospers, remains awash with light, embraces its dual structure of warmhearted surfaces and interwoven melancholic patterns which then lead to the truly contemplative final phase of angelic ecclesiasticism. Linear Bells dilutes magnitude and wideness and moulds them into a decidedly narrow appendix of blurred synth choir-oid coldness. It is not entirely paradoxical to embrace this state and interpret it as snugly, for the heavy blur filter boosts the quiescence and lessens the admonitory drop in temperature. Frozen Red Lips ends on an erudite and eremite note.


The follow-up Outside Me continues the path of thin ice and fades in with glacial-pristine drone strings, vitreous wind gusts and interstices of reverberation. Much more mystical and akin to a crystalline cavity, the piece of 13+ minutes fathoms out multitudinous moments of fragility, followed by waves of polylayered protrusions. Everything seems delightfully artificial, synthetic and at times even technocratic – for instance when piercing, train brake-resembling piercing sine tones enter the scenery – while still leaving room for enigmatic arcs and a perceived grandeur whose dimension is stupefyingly large. Adjacent crackles and pops, dun-colored tone sequences in minor, whitewashed fields of haze: Outside Me wafts plasticity, it is one of David Teboul’s most impressive pieces that really transport the listener into a vaulted sphere. The clever use of filters and hall effects make it possible. The third piece Rain Snow Alcool seems like a silkened addendum to Outside Me, but this remark wants to stress the seal of quality. A seraphic-gaseous alloy of etiolated synth flumes twirls majestically in close proximity to field recordings of rivulets and other aqueous fluxions. The surface area of the aorta is eminently soft and mellow, everything seems to be transcendent and purposefully somnolent. A certain pressure is sometimes evoked as the slowly moving chords create fugacious dissonances akin to New Age material, but otherwise, the encapsulation process of Rain Snow Alcool is magnificent. Another corker and track I come back to time and again when fog banks swirl across the countryside. The final Winter End feels like an elasticized Rave tune slowed down to beguiling downtempo levels; its signature element is the glaring yet helical disk saw-like organ which pierces through the cauterized bass billows. A delicate concoction of Rave, Dark Ambient and New Age, Linear Bells embroiders the gaudiness of the former, the abyssal ravines of the centrical as well as the purified tendrils of the latter genre. As the cold mephitic gusts of winter fade away, the spiky light of the organ increasingly becomes all the more pivotal… and vernal.


Winter Haze is a very strong release in general and by Linear Bells in particular, and the reason is not necessarily close at hand, but has built up during countless listening sessions. I am somewhat glad for having the review postponed until December, for what I am able to distill right now is definitely different from the non-existing review I would have written back in February or March 2013. Winter Haze feels exactly right. This sentence is as fuzzy as it is short, so let me explain: it does not become a burden for the listener. Even though David Teboul presents three long-form pieces and one comparably shorter closure, these tracks do not become tiresome in the slightest. The concept of time is somehow overcome, of course not in the physical sense of the real world, but in-between the inner-musical structures themselves. Which could be seen as a failure, as Linear Bells, according to the liner notes, wants to showcase the passing of time, that is the opposite! The gorgeous blur and hazy fuzziness as well as the delicate diffusion layering technique make Winter Haze so erudite, enchanting… and mollifying. Less is more, and I am glad that David Teboul not only handpicked four compositions of the Drone genre, but that he, as a particularly prolific producer akin to Joseph Curwen and Celer, took the time to revisit, nurture and pet these four artifacts over a period of six months. This work feels important yet humble throughout its runtime. The opener Frozen Red Lips, despite its long duration and state as an opener, is not even the best tune off the four, although its shapeshifting notions and interim rearrangements of patterns make it a strongly varied work. No, it is the central duo of Outside Me and Rain Snow Alcool which is so amazingly successful in ennobling desk-related tasks with its washed out, calcined color spectrum and fully fleshed out density of processed and unrecognizable guitar funnels. Strictly speaking, Winter Haze is my favorite work of Linear Bells, as concept, artwork, shape and style translate into a beautiful mélange.



Further reading and listening: 

  • You can order the digital version at Bandcamp
  • The CD edition has long sold out. Linear Bells is on Twitter: @linearbells.



Ambient Review 289: Linear Bells – Winter haze (2013). Originally published on Dec. 4, 2013 at