Øystein Jørgensen
Winter EP






Norse composer and sound-designer Øystein Jørgensen is known for many a thing and moniker, even though the Ambient fan might not have these things on the radar immediately. Projects such as Auditory Perception, Ambient Fabric or the simple Q might cross one’s path sooner or later, but there is one entity that is a cornerstone in the netlabel community: Petroglyph Music. Jørgensen co-founded this label with Rune Martinsen in 2012, and since then has released several EP’s from illustrious musicians. In February 2013, the label-running artist gives himself – and ultimately us – a treat and releases the Winter EP, a four-track digital-only release available to download for free at Petroglyph or the Archive.org database. After featuring his release Antarctica (2012) in my Winter Ambient Review Cycle 2013, I am now considering the Winter EP for the 2014 cycle of hibernal goodness. And although it is not apparent right from the get-go by the look of things, Jørgensen’s EP is genuinely enigmatic, sometimes even scarily so. The ultimate reasons exist in one’s head obviously, but the sound-based immersion plays a large role, too. This is not one of the artist’s Drone works. Instead, arpeggiated melodies and sparkling bells are the dominant forces, followed by their prolonged echoes and adjacent winds. This makes for a pristine clarity, but the transparency doesn’t translate to brightness, let alone benignancy. The release of approximately 15 minutes is prone to unleash cold colors and stark contrasts and lives up to its title alright.


Even though the Winter EP has a runtime of less than 15 minutes and sports a contingent overarching theme that is both self-explanatory and based on nature, Øystein Jørgensen adds an intro to the actual three sceneries. Simply called Intro, it is awash with elasticized polar light peritoneums whose afterglow derives from the vitreous bells in the foreground. The melody itself is rotatory and helicoidal, but showcases both an interesting texture and pitch. Resemblant of a music box melody, the looming chintziness is annihilated via fir-green tone sequences. These occur due to the mellow frequency range. Instead of silvery plinking devices, Jørgensen plays the diaphanous vibraphone in the upper midtone range and therefore allows soothingly caproic counterpoints to be appended to the glacial granuloma. Be that as it may, the Norse artist makes it transparent that this is just an intro. An intro to greater things. Winter is such a thing. Here, the pointillism is much more crystalline and frosty: asphyxiating icicle punctilios of the claustrophobic kind twinkle in front of a raging storm. Tawny and iridescent at the same time, the melody is likely to haunt the listening subject due to the twilight physiognomy. Mysticism, arcaneness and enigmatic erethism are serrated. Not entirely unlike Autechre’s Amber (1993), one cannot pinpoint the mood, let alone grasp the meaning. Jørgensen however soon ameliorates this jinxed state via seraphic synth airflows whose longitudinal languor lessens the clandestine cannelure. Said cannelure is revved up again by a cleverly injected drum kit-based beat. Winter becomes lively all of a sudden, but also all the more threatening. One feels haunted at best… and hunted at worst.


The centerpiece of the Winter EP is called Air Hoar, a cavernous thiazide of almost six minutes. This is undoubtedly the greatest piece for Ambient fans and followers of Øystein Jørgensen’s Dark Ambient pieces alike. This beatless polyhedron launches with cauterized sub-zero wind gusts whose piercing force only amplifies the perception of utter coldness. The portentous chimes are included yet again, huge doses of reverb boost the spaciness of this glaucous place. Good luck in finding a tone in major! The whole entanglement is sternly dubious, be it the rumbling low frequency undercurrent, the aero engine-evoking cacophony, the fir-green luminescence of the Angkor Wat bells or – shudder – the hexangular lunacy of the rain pads. The aural hoarfrost is adamantly threatening, almost of a Lovecraftian nature. It doesn’t seem to depend on anything or anyone. Listening to Air Hoar makes for a bewildering but also fascinating experience. It is neither histrionic nor overproduced; it is in fact the omnipresent darkness that turns out to be the gravest force. An unexpectedly solacing endpoint to the EP comes along in the shape of Snowcrystals In The Sun, a brightly coruscating epithelium of glistening sine scintillae, sunlit globs and whistles as well as harp-like chords in the background. The mood is melancholic alright, drowned in nostalgia, but this is actually a boon, as the bedazzling color range turns things around and make this a positive outlook of the things to come. Spring perhaps. But in order to reach this state – and the short runtime of this EP notwithstanding – one has to cross recondite antra and eldritch cesspools.


Winter EP is a curious little gem: it sparkles and glints but its colors are cold. It emits viridian and aquatic colors but sees them harmed by an argentine chromaticity. The wideness is almost unbearable and the contrapuntal entity to the immediate attack rate of the chimes and bells. There is not much warmth to be found in Øystein Jørgensen’s four locales, and there is a reason for that: the omission of low frequency rivulets. Whereas the aforementioned Antarctica seemed like a mirage in the snowy landscapes due to the magnanimous oomph of the droning bass streams, Winter EP carves out the schematics of the bells. They are the dominant force alright, with their sustained decay being the only legato entities. Once the cherubic synth washes offer interstices of hymnic haze, Jørgensen’s EP invokes surreal pictures auf faux warmth. There is anything wrong with this short and undoubtedly sinister mood that wafts through the ancient realms. Only one particular shortcoming crosses the mind: the opener. A short opener is a bewildering element on any EP, especially so when it is simply called Intro. I can relate to such concepts when they grace the album format, but here we have the case of an EP that is luckily cohesive enough when all of its parts are added up. Since it does not destroy the streamlined theme, one might as well enjoy all four constituents.


Further listening and reading: 

The Winter EP is available for free at Archive.org.


Ambient Review 399: Oystein Jorgensen – Winter EP (2014). Originally published on Dec. 17, 2014 at AmbientExotica.com.