« on: November 15, 2015, 11:45:48 AM »
Steve Brand "Sanctuary" 2xCDr
2015 is undoubtedly a very prolific year for Steve Brand, who has released so far four outstanding albums on his Pioneer Light Music label. "Sanctuary", being the third of them, is a double pro CDr album, which is out since the middle of June in limited edition of 50 copies and follows "Into The Current" (February) and "Second Spring" (March). The album features two long form pieces and it comes in a very elegant double eco wallet packaging with stunning cover and inside images. Regarding to this, Sarah Jane Hunt gets credit for inset art. As usual, the design is handled by Steve Brand himself, who is also the guy behind many nice layouts on various releases by Relaxed Machinery artists.
I am entering "Sanctuary" with disc one, 69-minute "Place Of Honoring (Inner Temple)". Calmly nuanced drone smoothly transmutes into humming reverberations, which mind-bendingly hang above. Ephemeral rumbles continuously permeate along with gossamer tinkles. Primordial cave fully reveals all its magic when Steve Brand's chants join these awe-inspiring sceneries. The distant drone constantly paints fascinatingly flatlined magnitude and primeval artifacts tickle the ears with delicately oracular diaphanousness. Metamorphosing drones evolve into voluminously expansive spirals, masterfully juxtaposed with sinuous dissonances, elusive, sweeping, buzzing, ear-bending. Wow, a truly jaw-dropping ride!!! Then Steve Brand rises his flute and delivers another breathtakingly mind-blowing pinnacle with his magnificently undulating whistling creativity. The listener constantly encounters absolutely unexpected surges of textural brilliance within this utterly enrapturing drone ambient scenario. Towards the 40th minute, this powerfully immersing journey diminuendoes into majestically relieving terrains, yet always secluded within grandiosely spectacular subterranean realms. But when glancing through the gates, this might be just a calm before the storm... After about 10 minutes quiet tides awake, escalate and intensely pervade across and commingle with emerging solitary magmatic flow. Spaciously sweeping drifts invade as well with warmer glimpses and navigate the closing passage through tranquilly grandiose expanses into intimate stillness. An epic listening delight!!!
"Place Of Unconditional Love And Acceptance (Valley)" unfolds with remote massive hums, which are promptly contrasted with nearly poetic waves, altering here and there during the opening 10 minutes into distinguishly disrupting high-pitched climaxes, later inconspicuously dissolving most of its intensity on the wings of warmly embracing drifts. Gorgeously panoramic vistas are revealed. Majestically immense and euphoniously resonant, yet persistently confronted with ear-tickling shimmers. Then flute calls ascend and float across this strikingly scenic valley. Elixir of natural water sounds joins the forefront, while graciously gliding blankets are surreptitiously invaded by progressing structure. Lucid tinkles also emanate, dizzy swirl and contemplatively bridge with field recordings, while humming dark nimbostratus clouds guard above meandering high-frequency evocativeness. Intricate didgeridoo growls clandestinely percolate for the closing 7 minutes, vivaciously interact with helixing drone murmurs and resurface soulful flute earmarks, before vanishing in the horizon of crepuscular depths and bringing the journey full circle back to the origin. 58 minutes of pure sonic bliss, what a ride!!!
After two phenomenal albums, "Into The Current" and "Second Spring", here comes another fascinatingly mindscaping listening escapade. These two long form pieces precisely display the reputation of this Kansan soundsculptor as one of the undisputable giant forces on the drone ambient scene nowadays. Steve Brand has a genius for powerfully transcendental soundcarving, meticulously amalgamating massively emerging unfathomable dronewalls, both diaphanous and prodigious, yet always ear-piercing discharges, enigmatically embracing acoustic insignias, subterranean voices, balmy organics, all thrillingly counterpointed with splendorous glimpses of graceful stillness. A real tour de force within the genre!!! If I would be forced to pick up my fave and most accomplished artist outside of the glass mastered CD "industry" releasing his music in small limited runs, most likely I would point to Steve Brand. Yes, hugely underrated, yet the more crafted, passionate and dedicated to his art!!! Bravo, Steve Brand!!! And last but not least, "Songs From Unknown Territory" is the title of the newest album by this soundexplorer, available on Pioneer Light Music since the end of September.
Richard Gürtler (Nov 15, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)