The Declining Winter played Colour back in September last year, a gig that will always be significant for us because of the way Richard Adams and his cohorts transformed the space, haunting it with the atmospheric, restrained but insistent melancholy of their music. Haunt the Upper Hallways is the second release proper from the Leeds-based band and it sees Adams further explore the nooks and crannies of the sound that has preoccupied him since the last album by Hood, his ‘on hiatus’ collaboration with brother Chris (aka Bracken).
Released as a three-track 7″ with an accompanying CD that features those songs plus seven more, Haunt the Upper Hallways is a charming curiosity, a document that lies somewhere between the resolutely physical and under-threat vinyl single and a traditional album. Sonically, it feels like an appendix to Goodbye Minnesota, The Declining Winter’s first album, a reworking of a very definite and intricate sound built around Adams’ prominent acoustic guitar tones and vocals that add texture rather than a narrative thread. ‘Hey EFD’ takes the central melody from the spare ‘Hey Nick Heyward’, one of the closing tracks on that album, augmenting it with fuller, mournful surroundings, while ‘Red Brick Houses’ inhabits a space not disimilar to the avant-horror of band member Gareth S. Brown’s solo work.
Haunt the Upper Hallways is a fascinating continuation of a journey; the hallways of the title perhaps representative of Adams obsession with a particular sound with this a meticulous documentation of his findings within them. It will be interesting to see what he does next, whether these preoccupations become spectres in the background of a new sound or continue to dominate his work.
Video: Haunt the Upper Hallways