Review Summary: No mountain high…
When most people think of Mr. Von Till it’s normally in the context of electric guitars, undisclosed amounts of distortion and typical preconceptions of what makes Neurosis...well, Neurosis. Considering the particular brand of music attributed to the likes of Neurosis and the prestige an act like that would achieve (if you’ll forgive some level of reader assumption as far as what “Band A” sounds like) you could be forgiven in overlooking a completely guitar-less endeavor from the Neurosis leading member, especially considering the larger contrast in styles. Still, the man’s solo works aren’t without their merits, separate from the sludge-based affairs to which he’s more prolifically known. Without getting myself dragged to far into the world of Times Of Grace
or the more recent Fires Within Fires
it’s important to note that No Wilderness Deep Enough
isn’t Steve’s first foray into anti-Neurosis material. Dating back twenty years, Steve Von Till has been trading the gravel, throaty remarks of his more “well-known” works for loose folk and flourishing, darker Americana. Comparably, No Wilderness Deep Enough
is as much of a promising experiment in music as the pieces that prelude it.
The overall mood and atmosphere of Steve Von Till’s 2020 piece hides most of the vocal efforts in plain sight. While Steve’s contributions are lyrically grim, wandering from forlorn mood to somber atmosphere, the opening “Dreams Of Trees” could stand majestically without a lyrical interaction. Simple piano melodies sweep under climbing strings and lush synth work. Steve doesn’t ‘force’ a vocal point, opting to add another layer in an unfolding story instead of narrating over it. The album largely stays true to this course, floating from one moment of nuance to a similar moment. Imagine a sailor on a calm sea gazing into the depths of a starlit sky. No two patterns are the same, and yet there’s a natural feeling of abundance, of being part of something much larger than you could comprehend with a naked eye. “Indifferent Eyes” reinforces this feeling of insignificant significance. The leaf you lead may be your own, but you're lost to the whims of an uncaring universe. The calm sea you may find yourself in could quickly turn to rage and turmoil - whether you want it or not...
As the record continues its journey from start to finish the individuality of Von Till’s latest solo venture tests the bounds between lush orchestral composition and moody melancholia. The likes of “Shadows on the Run” is clearly different to the hope-laced dirge of “Dreams Of Trees” and yet, the album runs a paradoxical course charted by its swooning atmospherics and transient ebbing compositions to which the Neurosis frontman features. “Shadows On The Run” takes on a too even phrasing; discomforting the distance between twinkling cello, and the haunting purr of Steve’s deeper vocal range. Maybe the lull of these compositions incite a deeper meaning as No Wilderness Deep Enough
moves towards its more final moments, but the larger than life and natural death themes Steve laps and against the crescendo and decrescendo lose some of their larger impact, even if it’s only marginal.
The album’s close however unveils the true pensive nature of No Wilderness Deep Enough
’s larger scheme. “Wild Iron” takes the synth led compositions and wraps more light piano work around Von Till’s baritone. The song itself takes the familiarity of the tracks that came before it, fading out into meditative silence. A stark, but not unwelcome reminder of what’s left for everyone at the end of their respective journeys. As a whole, No Wilderness Deep Enough
is an entity of its own not anchored down by the stereotypes for the artist that creates it. In featuring even amounts of synth, cello and piano, Steve Von Till has laid a canvas not defined by what an electric guitar or throaty yell can unveil. Instead, music as an art, as a way of life, or a way of death triumphs and bows out gracefully - ready to be born again.