Paysage D'Hiver - Paysage D'Hiver
Kunsthall Productions
Black Metal
3 songs (54:24)
Release year: 2000
Reviewed by James
Archive review

Paysage D'Hiver's lone member, Wintherr has been holed up in The Alps, producing records under the Paysage D'Hiver name for about 10 years now. Despite being practically unknown, with only dedicated black metal fanzines really devoting any column space to him, every time he deigns to grant us a new recording there's something of a frenzy in the underground black metal scene. The initial pressings of the tapes sell out within hours, even minutes, and any reissues tend to be snapped up within a similar timeframe. Although Paysage D'Hiver's self titled release may not be their best (I much prefer Schattengang) or even the easiest to come across (It's only recently seen a CD release) it is certainly the best place to start, and by far the best example of what this most arcane of black metal acts are all about.

We open up with Welt Aus Eis, and the first thing you'll notice here is how seriously lo-fi the production (or lack of it) is. The record's clearly been bashed out on a 4-track, and it's harsh by even the most hardened kvltists standards. Indeed, anyone new to this kind of music will probably dismiss it as mere noise, such is the thickness of the sonic fog that covers everything here. And yet it's utterly essential to the feel of the album, the feeling that it really is produced by the shadowy figure on the cover rather than someone who watches TV and eats pizza like the rest of us. The imperfections, the way the drums bleed into the guitars causing a slight flanging effect, even the jumps in the tape (at one point the guitar track is reduced to noise by a flaw in the mastering) make the record. But, back to the music, and I'll be damned if Welt Aus Eis isn't a Det Som Engang Var for the 21st century. It revolves around a similar structure to Varg's defining moment, built around a hypnotic riff and a subtle balance of keyboard and guitar, but Wintherr dares to play with the formula a little here. During Welt Aus Eis' nigh-on 20-minute running time, it takes in acoustic passages, ghostly violins, and even choral vocals buried deep in the mix at one point. If you only hear one Paysage D'Hiver track, it should be this one.

After that black metal tour-de-force, anything that follows it up is going to look a little less stellar by comparison. Geforener Atem is almost an ambient track, built around a stately drum beat and keyboard line that foreshadows Wintherr's Darkspace project, formed several years down the line. Despite this, there's still some interesting guitar melodies in there, although the guitar is nearly inaudible here. Interestingly, at points in the song there's some harsh, abrasive noise textures in the mix. Of course, it may just be accidental and I'm looking way too far into it, I don't know. It's perhaps the most difficult piece here, running 17 minutes with little change in the keyboard line. Although a massively epic near-guitar solo comes in at the end as a little reward. Der Weg plays us out, and it's a hurricane-force slab of black metal, spoiled slightly by the tape clicks in the beginning. Good news is, the violins from Welt Aus Eis are back, and this time they sound even more gorgeous than ever. There's also a rather nice, if slightly incongrous piano melody in there too.

If you can take the noise that covers much of the track, there's some of the most epic riffing here, a suitable climax to the album.

There's a good chance you'll hate this on first listen. I initially found it too long, too repetitive and too boring. But upon closer listens, this album has hidden depths, and I personally find something new here every time. Darkspace seem to be gathering momentum lately, so why not investigate their members' work further? You may like it.

Killing Songs :
James quoted 92 / 100
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