Steve Brand has just released his first “lost pieces” collection, on his own Pioneer Light label. Upwelling (PL 0002) is a gathering of nine remixed and reimagined tracks, some created during work on other albums, others resulting from momentary inspirations.
Forgotten Feast at once opens a ritual, ancestral space, into which a rich light streams, full with memory. Steve establishes at the outset one of his signature themes: rebirth through rediscovery. The journey, as it must, passes through darkness and loss as well as joy and learning. I couldn’t believe how quickly this 8-minute piece flowed by. It barely seemed to have begun – one of my favorites.
Overtone continues the mood, with enticing flute fragments offset by darklit tectonic shifts. Quietly searing, ominously ringing and enchanting.
My other favorites are the reflective meditation Morning Glory and the glorious The Web, which together anchor the album at its midpoint. I hear them both as hymns to simply being present and attentive – for me, another key theme that resonates throughout Steve’s music. Key, because being present in the moment is essential to Steve’s spiritual quest, of which his music is an inevitable expression.
The pieces seem to come in pairs: the title track shimmers through a glinting, slightly-metallic space, while Selves Like Facets in a Diamond follows with a darker, more intense soundscape of processed metal percussion. At six minutes, it’s the album’s shortest piece – perhaps its strongest.
The ethereal drift of Over-soul is a brief glimpse of a slow, eternal journey through infinite space. This is a short clip from the long-form version, which will probably see release in 2012. I’m definitely looking forward to that.
Opening with a processed vocal invocation and softly-clattering chimes, The Language of Moon and Tide swells into a flow of midnight pads, ending with chimes and cymbal effects.
Ever-Increasing Brightness closes the album with Asian elements of melodic percussion and plucked strings, which cascade and echo away, then give way to an atmosphere which falls away from us.
In much the same way as does any of Steve Roach’s Lost Pieces albums, or Max Corbacho’s recent Lost Links collection, Upwelling weaves these varying strands together into a seamless, cohesive whole. As solidly as the tracks are sequenced, I think shuffling them would yield some interesting, parallel experiences.
If you’re new to Steve Brand’s music, this is an excellent introduction. For the rest of us, it’s one more welcome addition to his impressive discography.