Hungry Cloud Darkening, Glossy Recall (out now, Off Tempo Records, I

Hungry Cloud Darkening, Glossy Recall (out now, Off Tempo Records, I don’t know what it is about Anacortes, but the wealth of music coming from that sleepy ferry town is really spiritually centering. Hungry Cloud Darkening, the touring band for Anacortes’ premiere woodland priest, Phil Elverum, is responsible for the latest LP, Glossy Recall, in this legacy of philosophical zen-rock.

With the unmistakable bass tone from the Twin Peaks theme song and the hushed atmosphere of a Catholic church (the album was actually recorded inside of one), Hungry Cloud Darkening’s languid hymnals wrap the listener in a wool blanket in the middle of a foggy rainstorm. The songs are elegant and never hurried—instead they skirt along, calmly buoyed by warm organ lines and lilting, waltzy rhythms that let up from time to time for monkish dirges on “You Look Around” and “Hidden and No Trace.” The album’s warmth and introspection manages to avoid feeling contrived or cloying among the sea of beardy pastoral balladeers that plague the Pacific Northwest.

“The void of bright days lets me be/Clearly seen,” lead vocalist Nicholas Wilbur sighs on the gorgeous lead track “Clearly Seen,” before co-vocalist Allyson Foster’s breezy voice flutters in and out, hoping to “Find a balance between you and me/And make progress to branch out feelings.”

When it gets cold in the PNW, we hermit-like residents tend to bunker down indoors in a sort of self-imposed social hibernation. It can be easy to succumb to S.A.D.-ness when the days get darker, but Glossy Recall seems to be about reclaiming a sense of connection amid all that isolation. “I want you to show me how to talk to you,” sings Foster in “Talk About Something.” Anyone who’s lived through a winter here can relate to a muddled emotion or two, and in a way, the album is a poem about reconciling our seasonal survival needs—staying warm and dry—but also seeking communion with others.

The fight to be seen and present is a motif that runs throughout the album: in “I Am Seen” and the final track “Inhibited Window,” which finds Wilbur peering out the window of his home, anxiously waiting for “winter’s bone” to finally retreat, making room for summer again.

Hungry Cloud Darkening’s wintery lamentations are peppered with bewitching moments of transcendence. By writing so deftly about silence and the sometimes-difficult struggle to communicate, the band has managed to craft an album with the ability to connect deeply with listeners. In a true act of alchemy, Hungry Cloud Darkening transmutes that darkness into light, and that magic trick makes for an incredible album.