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..BGN