The press release that accompanies the latest album from Steve Von Till is a worthy read in itself as it seeks to add context and shed light on the ever evolving and enduring musical work of the Neurosis guitarist and frontman. In the four long years since the last, searching release by the Bay era Titans, Fire Within Fires, Von Till has dedicated his time to his Harvestman projects. Releasing gathered collections of poetry and lyrics that seek to explore the thematic heart of the American psyche, embracing a psychedelic, spiritualism found in the natural world around him and ask the questions that have inspired, and troubled, the heart of humanity since the dawn of time.
His latest, and fifth solo album under his own moniker seeks to blend these ideas in an ethereal mix of ambient, other worldly existentialism that utilises a stillness and a beauty that is born, as much from melancholy, as it is lovingly tender.
Released delicately into the world like the freeing of a butterfly, alongside the deeply introspective Harvestman: 23 Untitled Perms And Collected Lyrics, the six track No Wilderness Deep Enough work alongside each other, or stand alone, to offer insight into the mind of a man who has sought to challenge perception, and in turn offer perspective on the world around him since Neurosis took a rusty scalpel to the cranium on Pain Of Mind in the late eighties.
There’s a wistful ache of experience that permeates every carefully considered line in this album, creating a very old world feeling of listening to an elder tribesman, passing down knowledge by the edge of a campfire at the dying of the day. Von Till’s smoky, almost spoken word drawl is soft, yet wrapped in authority as he takes us on a journey that encompasses the past, and hints at a trail of bread crumbs for the future.
The music that forms the back drop for these musings is almost tidal, gently lapping in a slow ebbing movement that creeps in an out of consciousness in a haunting distant call. Often formed around a simple piano or electronic refrain, that has more in common with Nine Inch NailsGhost album projects, it’s easy to see how this was born from the original vision as an instrumental album.
This is an album of rare beauty, of aching loss and longing, of hope and a labour of love…
Created in a part collaboration with friend, and studio engineer, Randall Dunn, No Wilderness Deep Enough was originally born in the downtime at his wife’s childhood home that grew as the vision, and scope, of the instrumentation changed as a mellotron, cello and even a French Horn were added, before finally he was challenged to sing over the music created.
As such there is a tentative, pleading and searching quality to the music that becomes reflected in the lyrics. Opening track Indifferent Eyes features the passage ‘Emptiness swallows us all, Bleeding all over our lives, Reach for the infinite deep, Wilderness inside our minds, Shelter inside of the blind’ sung in a multi-layered vocal harmony that can’t help but tug at the soul.
That is the key to No Wilderness Deep Enough, it’s an album that seeks to connect on a spiritual level. It seems almost superfluous to even try and talk about the music, to break down the songs and offer comparison. This is an album of rare beauty, of aching loss and longing, of hope and a labour of love. It is something you feel, rather than understand.
Von Till doesn’t ask you to think here, he asks you to surrender your mind and the low vibration of the synth instruments either stir you in the rise and fall, or it will pass you by. This is a piece that juxtaposes his early works and offers yet more layers to the vast catalogue of music he’s been involved in. Just as he has come through Silver In Blood and raged in gold, here his restless spirit yearns to take flight again and invites you to come with him on the journey.
No Wilderness Deep Enough is a rare album of sincere vulnerability that has much in common with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Brian Eno and his beloved Townes Van Zandt. It is a truly special release from an artist whose sizeable contributions to music transcends genres.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden