Cinderland by High Plains

Release date: March 7, 2017
Label: Kranky

The announcement of a new project featuring Scott Morgan of Loscil certainly should pique the interest of any fan of his work. With that being said, one shouldn’t underestimate the involvement of Morgan’s collaborative partner Mark Bridges. The two of them, operating under the name of High Plains offer their first collaborative album experience Cinderland, a beautifully unsettling and chilling album capturing the essence of ambient and neo-classical genres. Across this album we’re offered a portrait of wintery landscapes, expressed through the quiet subtle hums of ambient drone, emphasised by chilling piano and beautiful string sections. There’s a dark beauty to the work being presented here, one which is so intriguing it simply draws you in again and again.

Cinderland opens up with a slowly building ambient hum that pulsates as it establishes the groundwork for much of the album. From here, delicate yet deliberate piano and cello performances help paint much more of the picture, expressing a mysteriously brooding portrayal of winter-soaked landscapes. Much of t he work seems to slowly evolve from minute details, giving them greater emphasis when they do come forth in the music itself. It all results in an album experience that is simply fascinating in its portrayal of ideas and concepts, one that leaves the listener in a state of oddly calm reflection.

There feels to be much of a harrowing darkness in Cinderland, which perhaps in turns helps express that album’s core themes. There’s a true sense of an album experience at work here, with each track seamlessly blending together to create a journey across mystical rugged landscapes. There’s a sense of anticipation of what is yet to come, as the album delivers its surprises here and there. At times, it feels sudden, intimidating and incredibly unsettling, but it all culminates into a very thorough and meticulous expression of a creative vision.

This first offering from High Plans may feature surprises here and there to fans of Loscil, though it is there we find the elements that separate this project from simply being another version of Loscil. There’s many elements and notions that present this as a truly different creative project, and one that is truly collaborative in the fullest sense. Both members interplay woven elements of music perfectly with one another, with the album itself never sounding bloated in any sense, or as though it is leaning towards one member over the other. It’s cold at times, and mysterious, but it’s that creative vision that will keep you coming back over and over again.

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