Nhor encapsulates temperate gloom
The beginning of the British spellbinder’s EP quadrilogy illuminates a quiet take on spring. | nhor-ukband.bandcamp.com
The blustery end to April in Southern California reminded everyone of the tumultuous aspects of spring. The world awakens from frigid slumber as trees take root, rivers overflow and offspring proliferate. With voracious growth, though, comes intimate meadows, placid ponds and blooming flowers adding a more gentle, more delicate dynamic to a beautiful season. It is this vulnerable malleability that a lone British musician known only as Nhor pursues fervently with his newest EP, “Wildflowers” — a piano ambient ode to the wistful introspection underlying the season of rebirth.
esoteric journey of staggering reservation
The first of a set of four EPs, which will release chronologically with the seasons, “Wildflowers” consists entirely of ethereal, nonlinear songs featuring a solo piano. Those looking for music to get lost in can look no further. No extra production or arrangements keep the sole instrument from milking every note for all its worth. This makes for a sparse, esoteric journey of staggering reservation. One can hear the piano’s mallets hitting the strings and the creaking of its petals as Nhor’s perfectly placed chords put the listener in a dreamlike state while anticipating his next modulative venture.
Nhor’s music has always kept one foot in storytelling, with some of his back catalog featuring accompanying short stories. In “Wildflowers,” one is left to mull over the central theme, with some evocative song titles setting the scene. The listener can close his or her eyes and feel the unknown distress of one lamenting, “There Was a Time When I Knew the Way,” or the assuaging sound of rain dripping off a house through “Windowpanes.” More ambiguous tracks like “Vernal’s” evolving legato and the luminously harmonious “In Moonlight” allow the listener to intuitively fill in the blanks, creating a soundtrack for internal dialogue.
Nhor’s reserved approach still takes full advantage of the piano's dynamic and chromatic range, giving each song a sense of individuality within the album’s overarching concept. “Windowpanes” and “I Knelt at the Altar That Lays Atop the Stars” contrast in their respective use of resonant low-end drones and meandering high-register voicings, which both differ from the haunting arpeggiations and tumbling accelerando found in the reticently hopeful “Let the Rains Knock at My Door.” Nhor proves his mastery of minimalism through these distinct chapters of a unified love letter to spring.
A gentle loneliness
The title track of “Wildflowers” unsheathes the full emotional spectrum Nhor pulls from. While not overtly sad, it puts the season in question in a more solemn light. This song’s melodic refrain evokes the tender sweetness of a mother rabbit’s early awakening to the sound of her hungry young, or a solitary sprout’s mute struggle to reach the heavens like its forerunners. If Vivaldi's “Spring” captures the boisterous excitement of spring, Nhor spotlights the meaningful, yet untold stories of those shrouded in the morning mist, lying in the reflective dew.
“I composed the majority of this music through the night, bestowing a somnolent nature to the album,” Nhor said on his Bandcamp page. “A gentle loneliness can be found in those moments; as moonlight softly awakens wildflowers, blooming for such fleeting spells.” By subverting the preconceived notions of spring, seven somber hymns emerge from the undergrowth. While one could certainly enjoy “Wildflowers” as pacifying study music, Nhor’s fragile piano ambient whispers into the hidden regions of the listener’s mind and spirit, revealing radiant underpinnings.