White Hinterland: One Last Winter Chill

White Hinterland i i

In "Icarus," White Hinterland's Casey Dienel makes beautiful music that's both somber and warm. courtesy of the artist hide caption

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White Hinterland

In "Icarus," White Hinterland's Casey Dienel makes beautiful music that's both somber and warm.

courtesy of the artist

"Why must I always see the ending at the beginning?" Casey Dienel asks in "Icarus," a standout track from Kairos, the singer-songwriter's second album as leader of White Hinterland. It's a hook somber enough to match the deserted landscape she crafts throughout the piece, but it doesn't exactly qualify as pessimistic. Dienel, rather, seems more interested in evoking a space full of contrasts: Sharp gusts of wind cut across her canvas of deep bass drum hits and reverberant cross-sticking, only to be countered by the warmth of the organ and her own seraphic coos. It sounds like winter, sure enough, but the kind you might find on the edge of tundra, where the chills become a function of taking in the world rather than just a reflexive response to it.

Elsewhere on Kairos, Dienel's stylistic touchstones feel a bit more present (Broadcast, High Places, Dirty Projectors, et al), but "Icarus" serves as one of her purer expressions: The production feels spacious yet simple, with a set of samples embedded organically amongst the tune's main ingredients. (How many listens does it take to become conscious of the extra textures in the chorus, or even the little piano riff?) It's hypnagogic, certainly, but also transformative — these are the sort of reveries that can feed an appetite for wanderlust or make listeners ache for home, depending on the context.

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