Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Album Review: Leaving the Hive by Steve Brand

Returning back to 2016, this year was very busy for Kansan dronescaper Steve Brand, who released several reissues of his older albums in new packaging and two brand new recordings, The Path Of The Heart (May, out on relaxedMachinery) and Leaving The Hive (September, released on Steve's Pioneer Light Music). The first CDr edition of Leaving The Hive, limited to 25 copies, comes in a 5"x7" bi-fold booklet featuring an additional poem card and signed art card. The cover image is stunningly delightful.

Subterranean gossamer flickers and meandering buzz of the bees reveal the title composition, nearly 22 minutes long "Leaving The Hive". The listener is immediately taken into the lushly colorful wild garden, yet surrounded by all mysteries of the natural environment. Then transmuting into calm cascades of longing quietudes, silently peaking vistas and fascinatingly embracing moments of stillness. But intensifyingly mindscaping drone spirals keep on permeating across the mesmerizingly organic stratum. Aural bliss!!! The 20-minute piece, "A Light Spinning In A Valley Somewhere", immerses the ears with a nocturnal symphony, but the stage is quickly stolen by high-pitched twists. Earwarming tranquility is juxtaposed by traversing piquancy, but then hypnotically galloping laid-pack pulses join the scenario, occasionally supported by Miette's meows. And after evanescing through soothingly engulfing contemplative path. Another rewardingly chameleonic composition, a thrilling beauty! The next track, "Simple Things", glides through enigmatically expansive sceneries, where lachrymosely humming blankets commingle with poetic piano glimpses. Ambrosial listening experience awaits here! The closing "Climbing A Mountain That Never Was" gets just over the 22-minute mark. An array of translucently glimmering tinkles persistently interacts with sinuously soaring meridians, balmy natural insignias and intangibly diaphanous hang drum traceries. Meditatively euphonious and intriguingly gratifying conclusion!

74-minute Leaving The Hive is undoubtedly another tour de force recording by Steve Brand, an ambient composer extraordinaire. Leaving The Hive might be a bit more experimental, maybe a bit more unsettling at times, but that's how it reflects the theme about the phenomena of Mother Nature and our presence in it. At the same time, this album is exquisitely transporting, exceptionally profound and significantly guiding with the hallmarking amount of peculiarly authentic mysteries thrown in. A true masterwork indeed!!! And by the way, I am way behind my review schedule, so it's not surprising Steve Brand has released in the meantime a bunch of new albums, for example three chapters of Near Series (all CDrs via Pioneer Light Music during 2017), Spiritual Science 2CD with Ishq (October 2017, reissue) and Near Series: Glow CD (April 2018), both on ...txt recordings or two CD albums on Dutch label Datableom, Upwelling: Emergence (January 2018, a compilation) and Graduated (May 2019). And most recently since August on Pioneer Light Music, the newest Counterintelligence CDr is available. It's quite obvious, all these sonic gems get my highest recommendation!!!

Reviewed by Richard Gürtler (Sep 03, 2019, Bratislava, Slovakia)