[sic] Magazine

Winterlight – The Longest Sleep Through The Darkest Days

The Longest Sleep Through The Darkest Days is the second album for n5MD label by downtempo electronica act Winterlight. Mainstay Tim Ingham is certainly a child of the eighties post-punk and new wave. Influenced by the likes of New Order, Cocteau Twins, Felt and other sensitive, melodic indie that ruled the ‘Alternative’ Chart back in the day, this latest release sees Ingham honing his craft. Augmented by daughter Isabel (bass) The Longest Sleep Through The Darkest Days offers a perfect tonic for these ‘dark days’ of January and February. Christmas may be disappearing in our collective rear view mirrors but The Longest Sleep… recalls the festive period with its twinkling strings and swirling keys. It is this aspect of Winterlight’s music which draws comparison with the likes of Ulrich Schnauss and Manual, this plus a distinct reverence for shoegaze. To give an example, the second track here, ‘I can’t start being happy for feeling sad’ is a clear successor to the likes of Slowdive and Lush. I’d even throw some Seefeel into the mix with the way the track pulses and surges at its climax.

The album begins serenely with opening track ‘Calm Then Storm’. As the title implies, things start with gentle prettiness before erupting into tempestuous spangles of exultant keys and strings. As the record progresses the tracks generally lengthen and we tend to alternate between ambiance and song-based structures. I should make clear, the album is wordless. However Ingham’s strong knack for the melodic ensures this never becomes a problem. Things culminate on the epic ‘The Longest Sleep’, (so good that downloaders get an extended 27-minute version thrown in). ‘The Longest Sleep’ is signature n5MD. Whilst it nods admiringly in the direction of Mogwai (themselves lovers of Slowdive, The Cure, Joy Division etc.), the twinkles and swells are distinctly out of the port-royal/ Lights Out Asia/Bitcrush playbook. That’s probably what got Winterlight signed to n5 in the first place as the label’s raison d’être is electronic music with an emotional connection.

I find the name Winterlight so very apt. One can easily close the eyes and imagine a fairy-lit snowscape (with the merest hint of distant, imaginary sleigh bells). Cocteau Twins had this too on certain tracks. It’s a warm, fuzzy, comforting vibe and a welcome counterpoint to the often po-faced, ‘cooler than cool’ness of many IDM contemporaries. The Longest Sleep Through The Darkest Days will help us reach Spring more than any Vitamin D supplement. To be taken, twice daily.

Album released March 16th. Preorder now at n5MD Bandcamp or via the label website.