The new w i n t e r q u i l t 愛が止ま album Haunted House Vol 1: Texas Boneyard dropped April 11 on Flamingo Vapor, and if you missed it I’m here to tell you that it’s an album which well deserves your attention. As a listening experience it is a strangely cohesive mix of lofi house beats and twisted blackgaze-esque textures that create a bizarrely layered aesthetic. In exploring this cross-over space between seemingly incompatible genres w i n t e r q u i l t 愛が止ま creates a sound world that binds dirgey, droning neo-gothic meditations and high energy dance rhythms with spectral rage producing something that feels completely unique.
Much of this innovation can be explained by the circumstances under which this album was created. For a start, each of these songs began their lives almost 16 years ago as a completely different ep under the guise of a project called uncleghost. The structure of both releases is identical, with each track on Haunted House Vol 1: Texas Boneyard reworking one the original songs. The significance of this source material is deeply personal, as w i n t e r q u i l t 愛が止ま explains, the original release which was simply titled Texas Boneyard was a collaboration between the producer and his friend Michael John Gilchrist whose gut-wrenching vocal performances stand out in both the original recordings and the reworked versions.
Over the years the original Texas Boneyard had become a something of cult classic amongst his group of friends since its original release inspiring w i n t e r q u i l t 愛が止ま to revisit the material in the hope of contemporising it and preserving its legacy. This tribute is therefore an exercise in personal nostalgia which stands apart from the pop culture fetishism so common in today’s post-internet music, offering something far more intimate than overly aestheticised and confected emotion. It is a window into the youth of the album’s creator as one of a group of “stoned weirdos making creepy music inspired by horror movies and ghost stories” that offers an insight into the friendships he shared and the creative endeavours which bloomed out of these relationships.
And in doing so this recording maps the artist’s creative evolution, tracing his past in the UK black metal scene through to his present day interest in lofi house, a seemingly counterintuitive artistic trajectory which, like everything about this release, is steeped in personal history. In fact, as w i n t e r q u i l t 愛が止ま explains, he owes the discovery of lo-fi house to the three years he spent behind the wheel of a cab. A longtime fan of “pretty weird and inaccessible music” he was inspired to explore the more accessible side of dance music in order to find something to listen to that “didn’t scare old ladies in the day or get him stabbed by coke fiends at night” whilst he was at work. This lead to the discovery of Ross from Friends and the beginning of an enduring love affair with lofi house.
Haunted House Vol 1: Texas Boneyard was created using a very bare bones approach to remix. The original recordings were chopped up into loops and processed to isolate certain nuances in the music, these audio fragments were then arranged over sparsely programmed beats without adding any additional instrumentation or electronic textures. Whilst seemingly simple, this process came with its own difficulties owing the audio quality of the original recordings which had been produced on 4 track cassette, meaning that w i n t e r q u i l t 愛が止ま was forced to work around whichever section of the original tracks could withstand the EQing required to remove the drums. A completely arbitrary condition that left many of the creative decisions in the hands of fate and allowed the music to go in all sorts of wonderfully strange directions as the sounds contorted under the pressure of best laid plans gone by the wayside.
The album opens up with Deadman Flesh, immediately assaulting listeners with a wall of discordant guitar noise that forms the textual foundation upon which layers of disembodied voices loops themselves into a gothic reverie. The tension builds up over the course of the opener’s three minute run time until it breaks suddenly leaving the titular track Texas Boneyard to draw us into what feels like a sprawling blackgaze opus. And just as things start to feel comfortable the droning guitars begin to twist in on themselves and frenzied handclaps usher in a sudden shift in tone. Heavily filtered vocals float through the mix like ghosts calling from beyond which rise up into mournful drones that fall into step with the rising house beat that gives form to layers of sonic abstraction extruding a sense of structure from the phantasmagoric mess. This is followed by The Wretched and the Brutal which combines layers of reverb drenched guitar reminiscent of classic shoegaze and indecipherable black metal screams of shrieking rage with an almost jaunty beat that borders happy hardcore really emphasising the clash between darkness and light that is at the heart of this project.
The second half momentarily brings the energy levels back down again with Slum, a track that drags us from the club and pushes us back out into the dead of night. Deep ambient drones swell like gusts of sepia-toned wind, balancing cosmic horror with delicate beauty as shimmering splashes of heavily processed guitar cut across the groaning primordial noise. Pretty flourishes ringing out across the aural wasteland gradually gathering up into a comfortable groove upon which chopped voices bubble to the surface coalescing into a hauntingly sweet melody that paves the way for the next track. Abattoir, a noisy affair that submerges the dreamy layers of sound in washes of noisy audio-grit pushing towards a moment of catharsis before the album completely turns on it’s heals shifting into what could almost be described as a gothic dance-rock anthem with the closing track All Grey. Finishing on a very high note that enigmatically leaves the catchiest cut for last.
What I truly love about this album is a exploratory nature of the tracks which feel like they are discovering themselves as they unfold. A feeling which may be connected to the fact that this was w i n t e r q u i l t 愛が止ま’s first attempt at making dance music using samples. This gives the album an energy that helps balance the dark and abrasive nature of the music with a sense of naive playfulness, conveying a palpable sense of joy to the listener as each of the six experiments presented here evolve, finding their feet and flourishing as they run their course. And w i n t e r q u i l t 愛が止ま has a lot to be happy about with Haunted House Vol 1: Texas Boneyard which is an album that has absolutely broken the mould in the best way possible.
Listen to Haunted House Vol 1: Texas Boneyard here:
And if you like what you here don’t forget to visit Flamingo Vapor to pick up a copy of the Cdr which comes with a copy of the original 2003 release. Also keep your eyes out for w i n t e r q u i l t 愛が止ま’s next experiment in black metal infused electronica which is set to drop in about three months.