Steve Gibbs - Adrift
5. Low Light
Released on Injazero Records, 28th April 2017.
Adrift is the beautiful debut album from UK composer-pianist Steve Gibbs. Acting loosely as a reissue of Gibbs’ hugely popular Bandcamp release of a similar collection of pieces, this expanded, re-mastered, heavyweight vinyl edition paints a clear picture of a composer mastering his chosen form. It is a record of astonishing warmth, eloquence and sophistication, bedding deep in the ear, whether punctuating subtle moments of silence or rising to sublime heights.
Gibbs ostensibly occupies a similar territory to his peers in the broad and unstructured “modern classical” world. His instrumentation - piano, strings, gentle electronics, occasional guitars - is used with a similar sense of vision as Goldmund, Ólafur Arnalds, Dustin O’Halloran, Stars of the Lid, the piano solos of Arvo Pärt. Yet Adrift retains a singularity, a distinct and forward-facing identity. Its canvas, though rich and vivid like theirs, is left purposefully spacious and open. Passages of soft microsound comparable to Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto’s duet albums or Mika Vainio merge with lusher cinemascapes akin to Clint Mansell and Max Richter. Album opener ‘Passion’ combines breathtakingly pretty musicbox and piano sounds and lamenting chords to underpin its seaswells of white noise. By ‘Bokeh’ - the final piece - varying themes of elevation, melancholy, catharsis, love and loss have been sparingly, economically dotted about the pindrop elegance. “One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt and follow as a rule is that simplicity is often much more effective,” Gibbs writes. “The space left in between the notes are almost as important as the notes themselves.”
Adrift follows 2013’s In Passing - a collaborative EP written with established US score composer Cyrus Reynolds - recommended on social media by Ólafur Arnalds, Lowercase Noises and Fabrizio Paterlini, and whose opening track was featured by NYC ballet company Muses of Motion.
That Gibbs’ music has already been used in various film, TV and dance productions is testament to its immensely evocative qualities. And its acclaim is readily apparent in its listening figures: Gibbs has clocked over one million plays on his SoundCloud page, and tops the site-wide “modern classical” search tag.
Adrift was recorded in Gibbs’ home studio setup, without so much as a second pair of hands until mastered by genre stalwart Taylor Deupree (Lubomyr Melnyk, William Basinski, Steve Hauschildt). Having studied piano, guitar, production and music theory through both lessons and self-training, and honing his ear through devouring classical and ambient music, Gibbs deftly interweaves studio and compositional techniques. He employs “synth pads, reversed phrases and reel-to-reel tape recording to add subtle textures as a bed, and manipulating field recordings to create unique ambient textures” alongside piano and string arrangements.
Steve Gibbs & Cyrus Reynolds - In Passing EP
1. In Passing
2. With Our Heads Held High
4. Where Am I
6. Where Am I (Tom Adams Remix)
7. After (Olaf Ambient Rework)
Release date: 3rd July 2013
'In Passing EP', the debut release from neo-classical/electronic producers Cyrus Reynolds and Steve Gibbs is the result of the warm-hearted response brought about by their work together on the title track, “In Passing” in 2011.
Their collaboration was born from a mutual appreciation of the accidental; the sounds that instruments, microphones and tape emit - between the notes - which are typically undesired in modern music production. This passion for authenticity and imperfection is an ethos which can be heard throughout the EP, independently released by the duo in early July 2013.
The EP also features the composers’ successful first foray into the world of film, with a soundtrack for French director David Dang’s new film, “Where Am I”.
An excerpt of “Where Am I” also features in a series of TV idents for VELUX, broadcast on the Channel 4 affiliated 'Home' channel on UK television.