I have drifted my way through the four pieces in Steve Brand’s new release, Children of Alcyone, four times now–and by that I mean the recent now, in the past few hours, letting the thing loop quietly through my space, shaping the air, and quite content to have it do so. Children… is a straightforward ambient disc, designed for this sort of quiet, repeated and almost inattentive listening–but, as can be said for most good ambient discs, offering a lot of depth and interest to the focused listener. The content here is crafted in familiar, deep-sigh synth pads rolling in slow waveforms toward the horizon. Shifts in tone rise up infrequently to pull attention back to the music. (Again, as good ambient music does.) Brand shows equal strength in developing calming flows, as in the first two tracks, “Golden Cloud” and lush, 22-minute “Light Age,” and tenser, more dramatic musical scenes, evidenced by “Outside the Grid of Time,” which can at times be almost discomforting in its edginess. With the fourth track, “Into the Central Sun,” Brand folds in sparse percussion for a low-level, unobtrusive tribal feel. In handling all these sides of his ambient self, Brand effectively creates a sense of narrative, movement and completion of thought. Outside of the opener, which comes in just under nine minutes, these are long, patient tracks. There is movement within each, with Brand exploring and developing their distinct personalities and themes with a certain hand. This is my second exposure to Brand’s music, and my appreciation for the quality of his work grows, not just with each new CD, but with each listen.
Children of Alcyone is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.
Available from Hypnos.