Steve Brand | Coniunctio

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Coniunctio

by Steve Brand

Coniunctio is two hours of music comprised of two long form tracks of cosmic expanse and terrestrial rumblings, orchestral and choral washes, bells and didg that overlap, reveal and move away again into obscurity.
Genre: Electronic: Ambient
Release Date: 

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1. Pale Blue Orb
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61:06 album only
2. The Beginning of Days
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72:46 album only
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
More info, wallpapers, cover art and extended samples of "Conciunctio" can be found at RelaxedMachinery.com

For some time now, a number of releases have been in the works at the Treehouse, among those are two long form pieces, together timing in at over two hours and ten minutes, “Pale Blue Day” and “The Beginning Of Days.” Although these two releases were began about the same time (late 2007, early 2008), I never really considered releasing them together until recently. As these two pieces began to develop, I felt they were two different expressions of the same feeling of longing.

“PBO” has a very celestial, spacious feeling, that evokes Hubble images of stellar nurseries. However, the overall feeling is not of remoteness of coldness, but instead it is of the warmth of enveloping light and consciousness. This long form includes the sounds of the human voice, bells, didg and cosmic expanses of orchestral and choral washes that overlap, revealing and moving away again into obscurity. The tile was purely inspired by the sounds themselves—I literally “saw” a tumbling gaseous blue sun in my mind’s eye while working. Interestingly, the majority of this composition was improvised during an very active (and noisy) electrical storm in one evening. I was energized by the storm and felt compelled to capture to energy of the moment, even though I was sure I was going to loose the power at any time during the session!

“The Beginning Of Days” was started a short time after "Pale Blue Orb." By contrast, this piece has a very terrestrial, Earthy feel, and includes the sounds of cicadas, processed flutes and breath sounds, and tectonic rumblings. While working on this piece, I became aware of channeled information regarding prophesies made around the year 2012. The channeled information gave a starkly different point of view from popular images of fear and chaos presented in the media: basically, we are in the middle of this shift that began long before 2012, that the Mayan calendar was off by several years, that we are at the end of one cycle and the beginning of another, and that it would be represented by many stages of literal and energetic changes in government, existing power structures, and even in our individual and collective minds and physiology. Instead of the depictions of fear and chaos, the overwhelming message was/is of hope, change and empowerment on a scale that we have never witnessed before as a species. There was a huge disparity between the two visions, and the title was my answer to all the “end of days” spook stories presented in the media.

In the usual weird tangential way that things come together for me, the idea of releasing the two albums together came as part of my longtime interest in sacred symbols. About 2 to 3 years ago, I became aware of the one of the simplest and oldest sacred symbols, the “+” sign. Previously, for me, this symbol had only been associated with math. However, I came to learn that the “+” symbol (among other meanings) was one of the oldest symbols for the coming together, intersection or union of Earth and the heavens/Spirit, encompassing the horizontal line of the Earth, with the vertical line representing the celestial or Spirit. I saw a connection between these two musical compositions (a very terrestrial one, and a very celestial one), and this symbol. Once I made that connection, I resolved to release them together as one release. I recommend listening to these pieces at low volume with headphones, repeating them alternately.

In doing research on the "+" (plus) sign, I ran across the concept of "Coniunctio," is the alchemical process of combining elements that were previously separated into a new, totally new element. I felt like this was the perfect fit for the overall concept of this release. So, "Coniunctio" was chosen for this double longform release. I'm also pleased to announce that it will be released through the new label Relaxed Machinery. Thanks to JKN, Geoff, Bob and Chris for the kind support and assistance, as always.



Reviews


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Richard Gurtler

Captivating, mesmerizing and powerful ambient elixir!!!
Firstly known under his Augur project focusing on more experimental sound, but since 2003 exploring deeper ambient soundworlds under his name. Since then Steve Brand's discography features around 15 releases for various labels like Afe, Hypnos Secret Sounds, AtmoWorks, Relaxed Machinery, including few self-releases. "Coniunctio" is already Steve's second release for ambitious Relaxed Machinery label, while his previous album "Circular Scriptures" marked the premiere release of this label in January of 2010. 2 CDrs, 2 long form pieces, but don't expect some kind of minimal and static background meditative audio landscape. On the contrary, Steve enters here with more lively and evolving, but quite monumental and expansive atmospheric soundwalls. 61 minutes long "Pale Blue Orb" unfolds with deep space sounds featuring heavenly choirs. Peacefully floating and absorbing washes are cascading through various deeper and thicker droning spaces, later enriched by sharper bell outbursts, this is orchestral and ethereal ambient elixir!!! "The Beginning Of Days", clocking to almost 73 minutes, is less spacey, more earthy and natural flowing, but still quite mysterious. Begins again with choirs in sky high regions, but soon the flute whistle takes us back to the Mother Earth. Deeper and magnificently huge drifting and culminating passages are presented with all their beauty and graciousness. Just close your eyes and slip into this captivating, mesmerizing and powerful Earthsong!!! "Coniunctio" is definitely one of the most remarkable sonic statements of this Kansas based sound sculptor, Reiki Master and visual artist. One more note, by the time I am writing these lines, a new "Avatara" CD by Steve Brand is being released on Hypnos, so watch out for this potential and creative guy!!!

Richard Gürtler (Bratislava, Slovakia)

eyes cast down (Greg M)

Two Outstanding Long-Form Pieces
Longform pieces and albums abound, but this is only the second album that I've heard of featuring more than one longform piece. This by itself is merely eyebrow-raising; the real astonishment is the music presented by Steve Brand in his double-CD Coniunctio (Relaxed Machinery 0006).

Like any good longform piece, you could happily spin either of these discs on repeat all day (or all night). Both are deep ambient, beatless and hypnotic.

The first piece, Pale Blue Orb, opens with intimations of celestial voices & an inviting deep space chord. The voices breathe long and slow, drawing the listener inward. The mysteries of space and consciousness – heralded by suitably eerie and entrancing chords, are soon beckoning.

Like the view of Earth from space, the majesty of space, or the extremes of consciousness, the contemplation of such mysteries is now serene, now severe. Steve's music weaves the two together in an apparently effortless way.

At about the 21-minute mark, the music subsides to a rich, swelling drone, setting up a chorus of synth voices. This relaxing interlude is soon visited by slowly breathing, deep, dark chords with a hint of menace.

Pale Blue Orb is spacious, composed mostly of synths, with voice, didgeridoo, and then… the appearance of bells (contributed by Matt Hillier/Ishq) is a wonderfully surprising moment, in a brightly-lit synth chord with a dark subtext. The bells eventually fade away into a passage of singing radiance. Earthrise, perhaps, seen from another, distant landscape. Perhaps time feels slower out in space. Here, elsewhere, in inner space, it stops altogether. Space is vast, but time is even more remote.

The voices, pretty much alone, carry the last few minutes, and one last airy note breathes the music away into silence.

Pale Blue Orb's 61 minutes stream by easily, though our listening experience can be effortless or intense, as we like. Is this a day in the passage of Earth across an alien sky, or a musical capsule of its long history, or the deep reflections on one moment of its living, breathing existence? Maybe all three and more.

The album's earthy counterpart, The Beginning of Days, begins with a dawn. An ancients' wakeup call of shamanistic, wildly echoing flutes. Earth sings her daylight song now, rhythms of processed breaths and subdued, flowing synth chords. Her song on this day is one of stillness, pregnant with potential.

Earth has her own rhythm and her own time, and her song is not to be rushed. This music flows along as naturally as breeze or stream. The moods change as do the seasons, or a whip of the wind. Nothing ephemeral here, everything is simply the inevitability of nature doing what it does.

The feeling is emphatically not one of sentimental homage or tribute; it's simply as if Steve has somehow tapped a primal Earthsong and then stepped aside to let her sing directly.

At about midpoint, the music fades to near silence, the breathy flutes withdrawing. An organ-like chord heralds a shift into the depths. A more metallic-sounding chord draws us in deeper. More depth, and – strangely – more light. Muted to our eyes at first, not our accustomed wavelength. But it was always there, with the eternal, almost familiar beauty of the unknown. Processed cicadas and breath sounds are the quickening pulse of this quiet place.

A series of tectonic swells, beginning at the 60-minute mark, as the music is beginning to fade away, signals a new episode of flutes under a haunting, aurora-like chord, which repeats to hypnotic effect. The flutes and the aurora take us to the last minute, to a tectonic - or windblown - fade. These days will be full of mystery and wonder, never dull.

The Beginning of Days, for nearly 73 minutes, almost subverts its title by slowing time to an imperceptible crawl. Like Pale Blue Orb, it offers a mesmerizing and renewing experience.

Each of these longform pieces would have easily stood on its own as an album, but in musical terms they belong together. Steve's choice to join the two – celestial and earthy, spacious and grounded, ethereal and visceral – is consistent with both his musical ethos and the optimistic worldview which informs it. The terrestrial and the divine need not be strangers to each other. Here, they go together beautifully.

Available by download from CD Baby at a bargain price, and a 10-minute clip of each piece is available for preview at RelaxedMachinery.com. Highest recommendation!