Boston University — much like the rest of the northern East Coast — has been enduring a painstakingly prolonged winter. Students have waged colossal snowball wars, taken their chances crossing the frozen Charles, huddled under layers of blankets and studied to the sound of snowplows.
But no matter your opinion on icy sidewalks, slushy street crossings and overstuffed down jackets, winter often draws out the very best from creatives who thrive off of the imagery, emotional change and the occasional forced sense of shelter that arises when the big storms hit. Winter, the debut EP from Australian act Vancouver Sleep Clinic (Tim Bettinson), sonically embodies both the expansive and limiting qualities of the year’s final period. The 18-year-old is sure to garner comparisons to more popular and immensely talented artists like Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, the immersive band Daughter and soloist James Vincent McMorrow; with all of whom he undeniable shares aesthetic tastes.
Flipping through sweetly succinct vignettes, globalized outlooks and romantic reflection in a strictly falsetto tone, Bettinson glides between the experimental, often formless music of Bon Iver and the less obscure — albeit similarly delivered — records of a Daughter or James Blake. Scaled-back drums support, rather than lead, Bettinson in his quest through self and sound. Reverb amplifies already towering vocals. A cavernous space between the forefront and background of each of the project’s six tracks makes it easier for listeners — who are visiting Bettinson’s mind and peering through his oddly mature eyes — to lose themselves in the music, an effect foreshadowed by the act’s title.
Dreamy on the surface but brimming with occasionally stark sentiments just below the thin layer of ice, Winter is a conceptualized EP well worth the short running time. “Collapse” and “Vapour,” two previously released singles, serve as good measures to test the cold water before diving into the rest of the tracks.
Winter’s finally coming to an end, but Winter has just begun.