[reviews] afe094lcd
steve brand: looking into the other

heathen harvest []
webzine, usa, october 2007

Steve Brand is an artist that has been around since the mid 80s, using the name Augur since 2003. He has collaborated with a plethora of artists in an equally large number of record labels. This release is under the Afe label (Afe stands for "Another Friendly Edition"), which is based in Italy.

Apart from being a musician he is also a visual artist – in fact his website is really worth your trouble, giving a very detailed insight into his motives and work, and providing at the same time the kind of earthly, natural and unassuming aesthetics that exist in the album packaging, and accompany his music so well.

It comes in a triple folder cardboard sleeve, with pictures from simple moments of nature, ancient artefacts and carvings in tree barks. Very thorough and eye-catching, yet at the same time simple, putting the listener in exactly the right mood.

I will provide here a few lines from the press release, to give you an idea of how the sounds are created, hence of the final outcome: "The album utilizes bells, synthesizers, voice, various flutes, medicine drums, cymbals, fiddle, rattles, prayer bowls, etc."

All these components are combined into a very harmonious, comforting and relaxing sound that streams from the very center of the soul in a very genuine manner, flooding everything inside you with its purifying white light. The tribal element is slightly more emphasized, as the flutes, cymbals and other similar sounds that are added give a very ritualistic feel to the recording.

The tracks flow in and out of one another with perfect symmetry and continuity. My favourite track is "Columns of Light", inasmuch as I can have a favourite track since I like the whole album, a more simple, ethereal track with warm, angelic keyboards and bell tingling in the background.

Another fact worthy of notice to the scholarly among you: Djehuti is another name for the Egyptian god Thoth, or Hermes Trismegistos, protector of knowledge and all the arts, among other things. It is one of the two longest tracks in the album – the other is the final one, "Wrapped In Leaves" – and is a very compelling, atmospheric and in a way more "dark" track than the other ones. It lures the listener deeper into the elemental, primitive side of things, that has already established itself from the beginning.

For as soon as the first notes strike there is no mistaking where this is leading us. Images come to mind at once, of ancient, prehistoric civilizations, of their rough carvings on stone cave walls, tree barks, rocks. Of radiance, and the therapeutic, effervescent effect of the sun. Of shamanic rituals taking place with the utmost respect for nature, for her ebbs and flows, her predetermined way of arranging things, the miracle of birth and life within her. And of course, the ever puzzling effort of understanding, assimilating, describing, with the means one has when one’s consciousness is awakened within the folds of Nature's dress, and is nourished and embraced by her.

Some may think those means are feeble, as compared to the interminable paths of science, technology and modern cynicism at our disposal, but the truth is, according to me at least, that if one desires to really get to the bottom of things, and after having dwelled for long in the aforementioned disciplines, one must go back to Nature carrying all acquired knowledge, trying to implement it to what they see, and more importantly, feel.

Nothing dark here, all light, the innocent, unreserved, spontaneous kind of light you felt as a child, while lying peacefully in a very beautiful meadow, letting the sun sink in, almost burning your skin, letting your mind languidly wander all around you. At the time when everything you touched or observed was a small miracle, and you somehow seemed to be able to communicate with it. The greatest conspiracy of all, and one rarely surpassed by adult life.

I for one, if nothing more, am grateful for the reminder. If you’re always looking for original and of very high quality ambient, so will you.