In a pair of 35-minute tracks, Steve Brand takes an electro-acoustic path to showing that “one of the most fundamental and immediate ways we can connect with our essential selves, our core being, is through our connection with nature, its processes and metaphors.” Field recordings, bells, flutes, rain stick and more are carefully woven in and around Brand’s signature slow-motion synth pads. It’s not long before the listener is fully immersed in the calm, meditative space Brand carves out in the first track, “True Nature.” Break out the headphones for this; this artist pays a lot of attention to sound placement and movement to create rich dimension. He also covers a lot of ground in each of these explorations; there are distinct shifts of tone and feel as well as density of content. Where “True Nature” starts with a lot sound and a lot happening in your ears, its middle stretch becomes delightfully sparse, leaving you with windy pads, quiet movement, and the call of the flute–and then that gives way to simple nature sounds. Brand imbues this moment with reverence; it’s a very cleansing passage. There’s an interesting, almost dark turn at the end of “True Nature,” with thunderous rumbles, echoing whispers and rain stick. After several listens I still can’t decide what I think of it. It does, however, make a great counterpoint to the bright and almost energetic start of “Genuine Nature.” The melodic start slowly spreads and quiets, to rise again with cricket sounds and more bright, swirling synth lines with a string feel. Brand brings the piece back around on itself in the closing minutes to drive home the sense of a journey undertaken and completed. On both tracks Brand does an excellent job of moving the listener between states of pensive quiet and bolder, more active stretches, and the balance between the two is superb. There is time to take in Brand’s careful construction, and there is time to simply listen, breathe, and be within yourself. Our True Nature is a disc that should be listened to closely to get its full effect, but also thrives in a subtle, low-volume listen. As always, excellent, spirit-moving ambient from Mr. Brand.
Available from Relaxed Machinery.