Steve Brand - Bridge to Nowhere
Artist: Steve Brand
Title: Bridge to Nowhere
Label: Hypnos Secret Sounds (Ltd CDR)
2008. Steve Brand has just recently started releasing music under his own name, after more than 20 releases in the experimental realm under the name "Augur." Now Brand has a number of recordings scheduled for release on Hypnos, and also on the AtmoWorks label, and the first of these is Bridge to Nowhere.
Brand's work has always had a ritualistic element, and sound sources include: medicine drum, udu, rattles, various flutes, bells, conch shell, thumb piano, cora, Indian fiddle, found, natural and handmade objects, voice, field recordings and keyboards. Bridge to Nowhere is a spacious, slow-breathing exploration of a meditative state, and nowhere in Brand's work is the ritualistic element more present than in this case.
Ambient music in general is often considered to be "spacy" or conducive to altered states of consciousness in general, but this music specifically seems exploratory, meditative, and even a bit "druggy" and strange. As fans of this music ourselves, we particularly love it when an artist seems genuinely to have tapped into a reality outside our own -- to have slowed down the world or distorted it, or viewed things through a prism or kaleidoscope. The work of Steve Brand functions in this way, and we're pleased to be able to deliver this incredible, no-side-effects sound trip, to Hypnos listeners!
Track listing, with mp3 sample clips:
1. Bridge to Nowhere 1 - (14:43) - mp3 clip
2. Breathing Light - (20:40) - mp3 clip
3. Bridge to Nowhere 2 - (20:00) - mp3 clip
4. Through the Lens of Love - (20:00) - mp3 clip
(this item is out of print, and no longer available from Hypnos)
"Recent entries on the label’s CDR imprint Hypnos Secret Sounds are of such vivacity one wonders why owner Griffin didn’t deem them fit for “legit” silverdisc; it’s a pleasure they exist, nonetheless. Making the case for Steve Brand’s credibility is a no-brainer, but more puzzling still is why his profile remains negligible in the deep libraries of serious ambient collectors. Having built up a considerable catalog under both his given surname as well as the more opaque moniker Augur, Brand’s traversed intercontinental soundscaping, digital rainforest raga, au natural acousmatics and abstract experimentation with the greatest of ease. Bridge to Nowhere is scorched savannah ambient, lethargic and lush, breathy and breathless, keenly felt across the two lengthy sojourns spanning the title tracks, where Brand simply allows his balmy drones to expand and contract at will. “Through the Lens of Love” departs from the established norm with some well-ordered gamelan rhythms that brings the artist’s fascination with tribal elderisms to the forefront, but eventually his nest of mbiras and xylophones ultimately become subsumed in the sticky mix. Great stuff."
--Reviewed by Darren Bergstein, ei-mag.com
"Steve Brand, a veteran of more than twenty releases under the Augur alias, recently began issuing material under his real name with the four-track Bridge to Nowhere his first for Hypnos. With three of the pieces clocking in at twenty minutes apiece, you know you're in for some hard-core ambient and Brand doesn't disappoint. He also wisely invests the material with a broad sonic palette by supplementing a number of exotic instruments (rattles, flutes, bells, conch shell, thumb piano, Indian fiddle, etc.) with found sounds, vocals, field recordings and keyboards. Time slows noticeably in Brand's material, and one's heart rate seems to do likewise—all the better to induce the meditative state one presumes he's aiming for. In “Bridge to Nowhere 1” sparse piano tinkles, deep tones, exotic flute accents, and soft, high-pitched moans drift over a serene synth base. By contrast, the sonic mass expands in the later “Bridge to Nowhere 2” until its windy howl reaches a progressively more intense pitch. Accompanied by the soft, late-evening chirp of insects, church organs lend a melancholic, hymnal dimension to “Breathing Light” that's not only calming but lovely too. The music's glacial unfurl camouflages the subtle swell in volume that occurs during the first half, and the sudden dispersal of minimal piano notes over the placid base proves arresting. As the piece moves towards its end, the insect sounds get louder, accentuating the sense of context that's subliminally persisted throughout. After an introduction of thumb piano and tinkles, “Through the Lens of Love” draws Bridge to Nowhere to a tranquil close but not before a near-symphonic coda takes the listener on a final plunge into the depths. It's the perfect soundtrack for those early evening moments when light fades and surrounding details gradually disappear into the encroaching darkness."
--Reviewed by textura.org
"I first encountered the work of Steve Brand whilst reviewing a VERY small label (it shall remain nameless!) a few years back, and recognised then that he would do better work, given the strength of his vision, and technical ability. Imagine my surprise then, when Hypnos duly presented me with Bridge to Nowhere, a voluminous four tracker of epic proportions, rivalling the work of some of the finest exponents of dark ambience, or dark atmospherica.
Though these pieces are not “dark” in any significant way, they tend towards the “sombre” end of the spectrum. Opening with a deliciously rich and protracted tonal piece, Bridge to Nowhere 1, a heady piece that encapsulates the mood of the whole album, with a lush tonal backdrop, dripping with piano and eerie sepulchral choirs looming out of the ether. Breathing Light blossoms with a swell of muffled organ tones draped in birdsong, this is breathtakingly beautiful, not to say downright melancholic, but strangely reminds me of some of Tangerine Dream’s works, as Brand has a command of restrained melody, pitching complimentary elements against each other to form a glistening compound that sends shivers along the spine..truly wondrous material indeed. Bridge to Nowhere 2 resumes the almost funereal themes perpetuated in the first part, but here, Brand reduces the activity further with a stream of sinuous tones and reverberant chords, overlaid with angelic keyboard swathes, this is a glorious and invigorating bliss-out, that is highly filmic and evocative. Closing piece, Through The Lens of Love glistens and glides along with a stuttering refrain that could be sourced from a sampled xylophone or keyboard, a looped , yet non-linear central theme, with sparkling metallic elements shimmering in and out of focus.
In Steve Brand, Hypnos have truly struck auditory gold, and this memorable collection of pieces that at first impression, I thought would be a standard ambient chill out, have become permanent residents in my current listening collection, as well as being emblazoned upon my memory for a long time to come..first class."
--Reviewed by BGN at http://whiteline1.wordpress.com/