Alternative Matter Review – Upwelling by Steve Brand

15th January 2012

Steve Brand began work in the experimental music field under the working name of Augur, but in 2003 began releasing “ambient” music under his own name. Since that time he has released a number of projects within the field of profound sound worlds, including work on the Relaxed Machinery label. Upwelling consists of a collection of pieces, such as re-workings/remixes of Forgotten Feast and Morning Glory which were completed while working on previous albums, and Upwelling and The Web, which are remixes and reinterpretations of tracks originally available online as freedownloads.

As well as working in the field of sound creation, Brand is a Reiki Master and visual artist. He describes his work as “…more than being just an object for sale, as actually a fluid and transformative process that opens us up to new possibilities that create the potential for healing spiritually and physically, and connects us via its roots in our common ancient past with its wellspring in the depths of our larger selves”. This manifesto becomes apparent from the opening few moments of the first piece “Forgotten Feast” which takes the listener on a journey through delicate waves of ethereal sound which are both discordant and responsive, and spill over with a sense that although they are electronic in origin, the overall essence is that of an organic unit which matures throughout the duration of each piece. Elsewhere “The Language of Moon and Tides” is infused with distant, echoing wordless voices which at once seem to unnerve the listener but essentially draws them further into the landscape.

“Morning Glory” and “The Web” emerge as more heartening and compassionate, and are not, it could be argued, infused with the sheer iciness of many of the other pieces, which seem to float and drift forward with a machine like precision. With each piece given the time to expand and breathe, Brand intelligently allows the music to mutate and evolve. There is a sense in which each piece could at any moment become dark and solemn, and it is testament to the craftsmanship of each composition that the line is never crossed and each passage skims gently across the subconscious of the listener. There is transparency to each of the pieces on “Upwelling” which demands the listener’s attention and respect. Words in a review such as “atonal” and “drone” can often be seen as warning signals to those unfamiliar with its possible permutations. Each piece on “Upwelling” is never static and if given the attention it deserves, rewards the listener with, as Brand would possibly argue himself, the space to facilitate expansion, perception, passion and ultimately, healing.

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