Review: Broken Harbour- The Geometry of Shadows by historic_bruno

rM0031_Broken Harbour_TheGeometryOfShadows_300x300Lacking some magic perhaps from the previous release Gramophone TransmissionsBroken Harbour returns with The Geometry of Shadows, nonetheless a piece of fine high-quality ambient music. It retains many of the same characteristics, but obviously differs in the lack of classical samples, tending instead toward traditional ambient music. There is some influence of space ambient, but for the most part it presents a stationary and glimmering, pleasant atmosphere, rather than a more kinetic sound. Certainly, there is an uplifting feel to the whole, warm yet sparse; not as dramatically emotive as Gramophone Transmissions. It feels like one suite instead of six distinct tracks, nearly all of which are over 11 minutes in length.

The Geometry of Shadows is very cohesive, and that combined with the strong composition and excellent sound quality, earns this release an easy 4 star rating from me. It’s nothing ground breaking, but these days little in the ambient genres truly is, and here Broken Harbour demonstrate a mastery of ambient music and a unique style. Once again, music for headphone listening.


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Review: Steve Brand, Roy Mattson – Meltstream by Richard Gürtler

rM_0042_Brand-Mattson_Meltstream_300x300Steve Brand needs no bigger introduction here, he is constantly confirming his reputation as one of the giants of primordial shamanistic electroacoustic soundsculpting. But Roy Mattson comes here as a new name on the ambient map. Based in Stony Creek, NY, Roy Mattson has been making music for many years, but according to my knowledge, he didn’t share it until 2013, when his collaboration with Mystified “Pluto And Charon” was released on Treetrunk Records (July, 2013). Steve Brand and Roy Mattson have met for the first time on Steve Roach’s Into The Soundcurrent workshop in Sonoita, Arizona in September, 2007. And that was the triggering point for “Meltstream”. The album comes in beautiful 4-panel digipak, for sure both artists and Relaxed Machinery deserve this catchy packaging, a way to continue!!!

10-minute opener “My Shadow And The Morning Sun” quickly shifts into gorgeously ethereal spheres, attractively melting distant drone undulations with evocative string subtleties. Drifting, expanding and peaking into heavier, unbounded realms, before inconspicuously transmuting into lushly colored primordial paradise led by tranquilly swirling, rattling and embracing cacophony of various eclectic shakers and rumbles. I am really hooked on this track!!! “Just Above Treeline” graciously floats and meanders on soothingly waving cloudbeds of gorgeously majestic pensiveness. Ancient whistles quietly sneak in during the second half and take the listener deeper into enthralling contemplative realms. “Leeward Shadows”, the longest piece clocking to nearly 15 and half minutes, immediately dives into monstrously abyssal drone depths. Watch your speakers, because that’s a really huge drone blaze, but fortunately soon joined by the graceful symphony of panoramic drifts, enhanced by intensifying blankets and pierced with mysteriously crescendoing reverberations. Crickets are awaken too during this nocturnal magic and deliver their chirping virtuosity, while assortment of bells illuminate the path to the gates… Psychically supreme and spectacularly transcendental magnum opus awaits here. Bravissimo, Gentlemen!!! “Meltstream”, the title composition, returns into earthy wistful terrains filled with warmly ebbing wide-screen reflections, masterfully unfolding into thrillingly immersing vistas, which slowly metamorphose along the way into magnificently expanding and imposingly culminating drone scenario. Another breathtaking tribute to surrounding natural wonders, more please!!! “Unlost [Strange Lights & Firefly Stars]” starts with ear-bending drone escapade, soon the journey calms down a bit, but the drifting intensity is still absolutely unfathomable and mindscaping. Lushly colored field recordings inconspicuously permeate through mysteriously dark, moonlit landscape, but then spiritedly interact with gargantuan dronewaves. Utterly embracing!!! A grand finale? Sure, it was!!!

What to add? I am short of words, because it’s the music that speaks for itself, you must fully experience “Meltstream”, because otherwise you will miss one of the most glorious dronescaping adventures released in last few years. Steve Brand did it again, but that’s nothing surprising anymore and for Roy Mattson this turned as a really great introductory performance. “The Great Hoop” was one of the ultimate sonic jewels of 2013 and now, “Meltstream”, a 67-minute long soundsculpting magic is heading for the same title in 2014. Hats off to Steve & Roy!!! The official release date is scheduled for May 30th, the countdown is running!!!

Richard Gürtler (May 18, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)


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Review: Steve Brand – Over-Soul by Hypnagogue Reviews

pl0015_SteveBrand_Over-soul_300x300JUNE 7, 2014

Using a nine-minute track from a 2011 release as a starting point, Steve Brand expands on the idea beautifully with the three long pieces that form Over-Soul. This is a very big bit of work, a broad and cosmically panoramic thing that also manages to be as personal and spiritual as an epiphany. As Brand gently layers long pads over, through, or alongside each other and kneads their surfaces with texture, the listener cannot help but ease into a very quiet space.  There’s a slight rite of passage to go through first, however, as the opening track, “The Wise Silence,” sets about balancing shadow and light over its 21-minute run. Brand brings us in with a dark, rising tone that turns to a growling breath rich in low-end tones. It’s reasonably ominous, which makes the shift toward lighter sounds that much more potent. The shift comes and goes as the piece goes on, pulling the listener deeper into the flow. It’s remarkable what Brand achieves with what feels like a fairly slight sound-set. The layers here are not overly deep, but they’re fully effective–you feel the weight of the shadows around you, and you feel the relief of shifting away from them. “The Collective Heart” moves into a realm that is equal parts spacemusic and pure ambient, where the windy hiss of washes and high pads arrive to regulate your breathing. Brand does an expert job of handling the transition between these tracks. The calm that “The Collective Heart” eventually gives us doesn’t come immediately; it unfolds slowly from out of the darker landscape of its predecessor. There’s a nice minimal feel at play here, a cool sparseness of movement that brings its own power. Brand plays a bit with dissonance here, but lightly so, underscoring stretches with what sounds like the modified sound of a temple bowl. The ringing sound draws the attention just slightly toward it as it comes and goes. With “Unity” we are moved into a meditative space, soft and largely free of shadow. The tone here is higher overall, and hopeful, bring the proceedings to a cleansing close.

Over-Soul truly is a release that you need to make time to simply dive into. It will pull you into itself, as I said, regardless of how much attention you think you’re giving it. But this music draws out something intensely personal. It touches the listener very deeply. It is quite stirring while managing to be deceptively simple in structure. Brand’s music always carries a very honest, human feel. It’s in tune with you just as much as you are with it. While it’s his music, in listening it becomes very much yours. Set aside the time and pay close attention to the lush emotional content of Over-Soul.