Richard Gürtler Review – Catalyst by Steve Brand

4th January 2013

Here is another sonic installment by Steve Brand, released during June 2012 on Relaxed Machinery. A four track album, with track lengths durations between 12 and 18 minutes. “Amniotic Light” ignites the journey with droning intro, but soon serenely spiraling and cascading ethereal reveries can be explored, although quite dissonant with its high-pitched tensions. The interaction between celestially warmer and noisier, nearly hallucinogenic passages is hauntingly pleasant, a sort of sonic chamaeleon, one of the trademarks of Steve Brand. At times spiced by assorted distant primal rumbles, which add a truly mysterious earthy feel. Awesome intro!!! Gongs and ear-tickling percussive sounds on title track “Catalyst” take us to the deep cavern to explore humming drones with watery sounds. Quite monstrous soundwalls in some parts, which are melted with eerie tinkles and all kinds of ghostly and otherworldly rumbles, voices, winds and disruptions. Towards the end slightly more relieving and drifting soundscapes step in, although still massively submerging. A truly magnificent listening experience revealing all the mysteries of these spectacular subterranean passageways!!! “Deep Into It” bridges masterfully frosty drones with charmingly shimmering, slightly nostalgic-infused strings`. Deep and windy minimal drones ebb and flow, occasional lighter, with yearning moments wrapped motifs heat these vast glacial panoramas. But also few tighter disruptive washes appear as well. However, the overall sound is still very compact and harmonizing. This gorgeously peaceful composition unfolds utterly serene and meditative atmospheres. But this quiet majesty overlaps also to the closing, beautifully entitled piece, “The Track Of The Moon On Water”. With 18 minutes the longest composition on this journey. Warmly inviting washes, slowly meandering across the immense landscapes continue to soothe the listener’s ears. Here and there gently fragranced by cavernous drip-like sounds. Masterfully tranquil conclusion by Steve Brand!!! The entire 63-plus minutes flow together as a whole absolutely magnificent. “Catalyst” is another brilliant work by this, in Roeland Park, Kansas, based sound architect. If I would be in the shoes of a label owner searching for some potential composer working with primordial ambient soundscapes, who is constantly releasing his music on CDr format, Steve Brand would be most likely my first choice!!! And don’t forget to give a listen also to the newest works of Steve Brand, entitled “Sunprints” (re-release on Pioneer Light Music) and “Our True Nature” (out on Relaxed Machinery)!!!

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