An array of Hibernate Records artists come together with UK-based Spheruleus (Harry Towell) for a collaborative ambient record entitled William Barber; a fresh take on organic recordings and electronic manipulations to create beautifully textured and highly emotive ambient soundscapes.
Taking influence from an extremely old wax cylinder recording discovered by Hibernate founder Johnathan Lees at a local school, William Barber is a conceptual album made from recordings around the school. The album opens with a crackling sample of an old teacher named William Barber reciting poetry that preceded a musical performance, and all the tracks that follow relate to Barber in some way.
The music contained in William Barber is born out of a desire to create melodic structures with a nostalgic tint and a slightly melancholic feel for the past…the song titles have been taken from the schools historical records from around the time of William Barber.
The album as a whole is a step outside the comfort zone of mostly pad-based droning ambient collages. The artists combine organic string instruments with rich noise and field recordings to give each of the tracks on the project their own melodic themes which at times feel sonically similar to the music of Stars of the Lid, though much more direct and comparatively “aggressive”.
William Barber is most definitely a nostalgic album; the mood established early on the record by the samples taken from the wax cylinder colour the tracks that follow with a hue of past yearning. The lightly melancholic motifs and themes of the music at times feel even gothic—specifically in the subtle background string work of “Upper Wharfdale” which almost sounds like the vocal work of a woman attempting to practice hitting a high note in a most pleasant fashion, or the quiet clattering of “Machinery” (a highlight from the album) superimposed against euphoric, accordion-like sounds.
With all profits from the album being donated to the Crossley Heath School Foundation, the group of Hibernate artists have created a wonderful conceptual and sonically beautiful album that is well-deserving of praise and purchase.
Artist: Spheruleus and Friends | Album: William Barber | Released: June 2015
Label: Hibernate Records | Genre: Ambient