Review / Steve Von Till – A Deep Voiceless Wilderness

Neurosis, Steve Von Till’s iconic, genre-defining band were very much a physical proposition, in that their music was primed to rattle the chest and stomach. However they were also densely cerebral, playing with form to create whole new languages within the space of their drawn-out compositions. Von Till’s newest solo work A Deep Voiceless Wilderness continues this mode of musical logic; six chilly ambient tracks that balance a similar tightrope between the physical and cerebral.

Von Till has a lengthy and impressive track record regarding these more eclectic, experimental endeavours. Dating back to 1995’s debut Tribes Of Neurot album, through to projects such as the neofolk Blood and Time and the dark electronica of Harvestman, the California native has proven himself adept at working across style and genre. Crucially, however, all of these projects share an auteur’s vision in regards to their tonal, formal and aesthetic similarities.

Von Till seems to possess a genuine curiosity towards the rhythms, textures and mysteries of the natural world. From Neurosis’ towering A Sun That Never Sets (2001); an album steeped in elemental psychedelia, to Harvestman’s Lashing The Rye which warped pastoral English folk through an eerie ambient lens, Von Till’s oeuvre has long been devoted to exploring the myriad wonders and oddities of nature. A Deep Voiceless Wilderness interrogates these fascinations via especially ethereal means, and results in one of Von Till’s most delicate and poignant works to date.

A Deep Voiceless Wilderness is also a reinterpretation of Von Till’s previous solo work; last year’s No Wilderness Deep Enough. That album made prominent use of its creator’s hushed, barrel-aged vocal tones, which were overlaid atop the music like an ancient storyteller. However this time around Von Till strips the music of his words, allowing the tracks to tell their own ethereal tales. Most are marked by rich wells of cold melancholy, such as the majestic ‘The Emptiness Swallows Us All’, however these style of tracks are contrasted by the lighter and more sun-scorched ‘Shelter In Surrender’.

The closest formal comparisons for A Deep Voiceless Wilderness would be the cool, cinematic modern composition practiced by the likes of Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter and Library Tapes. This widescreen quality allows the tracks to conjure their own mini-worlds, each one seemingly a different landscape. The swirling soundscapes of ‘We’ll Always Have The Sea’ utilise thick, full-bodied synths, as if emulating the push and pull of the tides, whilst ‘Nightshade High Country’ is adorned with delicate swirls, like winds whipping across an open plain.

Another fine addition to Von Till’s dense body of work that divides its focus between rugged elemental explorations and emotive experimentation, A Deep Voiceless Wilderness is an intelligent and moving collection of neoclassical ambient composition that will engross, entrance and stir the soul.

A Deep Voiceless Wilderness is out now via Neurot Records and can be ordered here.

Words: Tom Morgan

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