« on: September 14, 2015, 08:18:27 AM »
Steve Brand "Second Spring" CDr
One of the most exceptional ambient soundforgers these days, Steve Brand, returns with his second 2015 album entitled "Second Spring". As usual for this Kansan maestro, the album is released through his own Pioneer Light Music label. Out since March 20th and packaged in attractively designed 4-panel digipak, which means return to previously used packaging concept with releases such as "The Space Between" or "Meltstream", because his previous album from this year, "Into The Current", was published in a cardboard sleeve. Although I like both packaging types, I think catchy digipak gets my vote. Anyway, it's the content what counts the most and when it goes to Steve Brand, my expectations are always enormous. If I would use the term "unsigned" artist, which is not exactly correct in this case, because of Steve Brand's Pioneer Light Music imprint and his co-ownership of Relaxed Machinery, or when focusing on artists, who release their music in small pro CDr runs, then Steve Brand would for sure belong to the best kept secrets on the scene. So it's no surprise that during the last few years Steve Brand always gets my nomination for Best of the Year album. Masterworks such as already mentioned "Meltstream" (collaboration with Roy Mattson) and "The Space Between" or other highly praised older recordings like "Over-soul", "The Great Hoop" or "Subtle Movements Inside" are the best examples of his virtuosical eminence. And his mission still continues and I can easily confirm it's stronger than ever throughout 2015, stunningly evocative "Into The Current" (released and reviewed several months ago) is the most relevant proof. And the deep listening session with "Second Spring" is still ahead...
"Second Spring" is also the title track, which ignites this journey and it does it in an absolutely thrilling way. Ultra gargantuan drones are bridged with outbursting high-pitched intensifications, swirlingly traveling across the listener's head. Ear-piercing sinuousness is continuously charged and counterpointed with glimpses of warmer blankets or cyber-biotic traceries. Disruptive, expansive, peculiar, mind-blowing!!! After about ten minutes transition into slightly calmer ethereally-infused passages follows, although still crossed with eruptive escapades, before soothingly disappearing on the wings of organic subtleties. A truly grandiose 16-minute intro!!! Deeply evocative flute calls announce "The Sun Resides Within My Body", contemplative tinkles join the stage along with slowly emerging distant pulsation and all drone gods are being awaken as well. But soon overtone singing slowly permeates until this wizardry completely steals the show and reveals its utterly powerful magic. Undulating magmatic movements are jaw-droppingly intense and exquisite, although intriguingly softened with tiding warm expanses. Then primordial artifacts emanate from fascinating subterranean domains and amalgamate with heavy drone elevations. What a journey!!! Absolutely phenomenal composition masterfully displaying the track title, it clocks to nearly 17-minute mark and it's certainly one of the most extraordinary moments of 2015!!! This must be Steve Brand at the very top of his soundsculpting transcendence, bravo!!! "Transitional Experience" unfolds with delicate cavernous rumblings, surrounded by intangible flute patterns and meandering drone hums, until magnificently soulful flute moves to the forefront and crescendoes until reaching its vertex towards the end of the first third. Then the remaining, about 7 minutes long part slips into serene, yet profoundly mindscaping terrains persistently reinforced by ear-tickling organic earmarks, strongly mesmerizing and spectacularly transporting into the majestic terra incognita. This thrilling journey continues with "A Drop Becomes A Stream, Becomes a River, Becomes The Ocean", where Steve Brand again excels with his richly nuanced shamanistic flute bravura, ranging from whistling through droning to outbursting palette. Monochromatic drifts guard above throughout, while contemplative tinkles inconspicuously ascend and coalesce with slowly escalating texture. Another astonishing symmetry between the track title and its aural expression!!! "The Fruit Of The Spring" calmly glides across and heads into graciously expansive vistas, when contrasted with sharply invading, yet gorgeously evocative strings, while awaken tranquil natural sounds with pristine primeval rumbles join the floating spectacle of this serenely relaxing spring scenery. The last piece, "Love Never Dies", delves deeper into desolate drone terrains, smoothly drifting, yet immensely spacious with ear-bending surges, before magnificently metamorphosing into warmly monumental dronescaping tour de force. Ethereal stringed embellishments excessively perforate across and later soothingly fade away in delightful synergy with balmily surrounding reminiscences. A tremendously imposing conclusion!!!
Lushly colorful, over 78 minutes long "Second Spring", released in limited edition of 50 copies, is another hugely significant recording of Steve Brand, confirming his remarkable consistency and firmly strong position among the leading forces within the genre. And yes, if you ask me about the number of released copies, it will always stay way behind my understanding... And if this is still not enough convincing for you, then check out the latest recording of Steve Brand, a double pro CDr album entitled "Sanctuary", released during June 2015 on Pioneer Light Music. And along with that, get ready for another beauty, "Songs From Unknown Territory", which is scheduled for September 25th. And on the top of all these exciting news, Steve Brand is also polishing in his Sanctuary basement his live concept. As always, I stay deeply connected!!! And I am dreaming about joining the live gathering one day...
Richard Gürtler (Sep 12, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)