Music is usually at its best when it is created as a direct response to something personal. Anger, joy, outrage, love, heartbreak—or, as is the case with Steve Brand’s hour-long Into the Current, a profound and lasting learning experience. Created as tribute to time he spent at a music workshop lead by Steve Roach, the always-soulful Mr. Brand pulls us into a slow-moving organic meditation. Long, drifting pads mix with flute and field recordings to convey “memories of warm desert breezes, shaded canyons, crisp mountain streams, [and] cool nights.” One of the things I admire about Brand’s music is that he can work in trope-ish elements without letting them sound forced or obvious. Crickets chirp in the background and it’s not listen, everyone, it’s nature!, it’s the sound of the moment, of the atmosphere as Brand plays flute—it’s the image of someone standing outside deep in the night and connecting. On this outing, Brand nudges the listener into and out of the flow by breaking up long stretches of complete immersion with the sharp-toned, breathy trill of the flute. It is a well-timed call to consciousness, a brief break to come up for spiritual air before heading back down into the lull. The quietest parts of Into the Current are incredibly beautiful. Brand takes something of a minimal route, letting just a couple of cloud-motion pads move and cross at a time. It’s not densely layered, but it’s smartly layered. The harmonies ring clear as the elements work their way through one another. This is definitely a candidate for long, quiet looping, and it’s a real pleasure in headphones. I’d say it’s good for meditation, but I do wonder if the high flute—which, don’t get me wrong, I think is superb here—would knock some folks out of their deep state. Certainly worth a try, because you’ll be listening to Into the Current many times over. Another fantastic work from the very vital Mr. Brand.
Available from Steve’s Bandcamp page.