For many people, winter isn't an enjoyable time of year. Even I have a love/hate relationship with the season, but when the snow is falling and everything is quiet, it slows the world down to my preferred state. That's what I've been trying to capture in the music over all these years. I've explored other aspects of winter, such as in the sombre Black Trees Among Amber Skies (2010), as well as recapturing the magic of the original Winter Embrace in The Sidereal Cycle 3 (2012). But I've been told by many long time listeners that the original holds a special place in their heart and mind.
The original version of Winter Embrace was a shorter 25-minute piece, written in early 2002. Later that year, I expanded upon it to produce my first long-play album. Finally, in 2005 (the version that's been available all this time) I replaced the strings, adding to the emotional impact I strove for.
15 years later, the form and musical structure of Winter Embrace still holds weight to my ears. The five-minute introduction sets the mood. The main theme that follows is a slow-motion minimalist structure, and over the next 25 minutes transforms into an ambient bed of sound. The second half suspends you there, containing reminders of the theme but is never fully realized.
What harms the 2002/2005 recording are the tools I had at my disposal, as well as the limitations of my technical knowledge. Any artist can tell you that we're always learning something new. I've learned a lot about sound design, and my current toolset offers me a much better set of options than what I had then.
What you hear now is the definitive version of Winter Embrace. Aside from the twinkling bells that permeate the recording, everything you hear has been meticulously rebuilt from the ground up, treated with the utmost respect in terms of keeping the mood intact. To be clear, changes have been made, but if you were to compare, I think you'd agree this version is a vast improvement.