Winterval is the debut solo album from Sam Willis, one half of London-based Walls, and he’s gone and cooked up something rather special. Taking a host of house, techno, minimal and Balearic influences, Willis assimilates these familiar traits into otherworldly electronic music that is not easily defined. Winterval gracefully hovers in an ambiguous hinterland between subtly euphoric and vaguely ambient.
The music is cloaked in a shadowy mystique, flanked by the wispy near silence opener of ‘140 Miles Away’ and eerie closer ‘Twirled With Your Slight Fingers’. Although the more unnerving sides to his sound are maintained throughout, these haunting, atmospheric individual spurts are by no means the pulse of the album. Willis is the master of not missing a beat, sustaining the rhythm and protracting the promise of a euphoric climax, while keeping you captivated through repeated propulsive beats and swirls. None more so than the swirling synth and deep drones of ‘Weird Science’, the twinkling crystalline grandeur of ‘Fox Glissando’ and the spectacular ‘Frozen-Cirrus’.
Chiming notes resonate through every track and the beats are delivered with pin point accuracy. Willis has mixed the warm sounds with a crisp frosty elegance, creating a hypnotic, comforting sound collage. It is no way an exaggeration to say not only is Winterval one of the finest records of 2012, it is one of the most aesthetically complete electronic albums for quite some time.