As for so many, a definite loss was felt when Portuguese / Finnish project Vertigo Steps went on a ‘hiatus’ with no indication of whether it would ever return. This was band which never quite hit the spotlights it deserved but was no stranger to acclaim across a trio of albums alone taking the listener on impressive progressive/ambient nurtured melodic metal adventures. It seemed like the band founder, Berlin based Portuguese musician Bruno A., needed to take time out to regroup and reflect, but whatever the reason for the band being put on ‘hold’, the wait for new immersive adventure is now at an end as the musician returns with his new solo project Soundscapism Inc. and a fascinating self-titled debut EP.
In many ways, the project is a natural progression to Vertigo Steps, the music within the EP seeded in the mellower atmospheric moments of that band. The new seven track encounter is an evolution of that swiftly honing its own individual character though, revealing new exploration in songwriting and sound through bolder and even more suggestive and intimately instrumental landscapes. Similarly an even more potent cinematic air emerges across the rich emotively hued and electronically/acoustically honed proposals making up the release too. Being the creation of Bruno A. unsurprisingly there is a definite Vertigo Steps breath to the music seducing ears but employed in a proposition revealing thicker uniqueness of its own.
The EP opens with The Breath Of Life And All Things The Sky Looked Upon, a song instantly cradling ears in the gentle smile of keys and as quickly the intriguing coaxing of guitar. Straight away an emotional suggestiveness washes over the imagination, the dreamy air of the song blessed with celestial harmonies and angelic keys as a dark stringed romance adds to its spatial. It is a merger of shadows and warmth which suggests a personal reflection being shared, and in the imagination sparks thoughts and feelings of a lone soul beneath an expansive heaven reaching sky.
It is a mesmeric start continued by The Quiet Grand and its more earth bound atmosphere around perpetually evolving scenery of spicy blues rock flames, shoegaze calm, and post rock ambience, to slim down the creative countryside on offer. With transfixing ingredients such as the ebow, mellotron, and celesta amongst more expected instrumentation the release is a tapestry of sound and temptation; a weave sublimely blossomed in the second track and again in its successor Tomorrow´s Yesterdays. There is an introspective feel to the melancholic charm and elegant embrace of the song, keys and acoustic prowess alone like a knowing nod at the kind of emotions and thoughts inspired by lonely surroundings and experiences all have felt in some form or other.
Sommerregen is next, its initial firm rhythms the lead to a refreshing emotional stroll through a summers caress; like a jaunt through warm rain and subsequent sultry rays of sun as thoughts contemplate the beauty of it all. The craft and imagination of Bruno A. again lays like a knowledgeable hand on ears and appetite, his invention building a lazy rewarding day into a festival of energy and enticement blessed, amongst many things, by a brooding bassline and Pretenders-esque melodic enterprise.
The darker shadows and ethereal flight of Planetary Dirt is equally as bewitching, its mix of melodic radiance and more portentous hues a skilful persuasion woven through an array of flavoursome elements. The vocal sample for personal tastes does not quite work but in its brief appearance makes no impact on the glory of the piece. Another masterful element of song and all tracks is how none are cluttered or over busy, yet Bruno A. involves strikingly intricate and tenacious resourcefulness in all, the emotion and poetry of the sounds doing the story telling rather than the technical craft others might over indulge in.
With the flirtatious beauty and comforting radiant wash of Eucaliptus Song (Lullabye For Summer´s End) and the blues scented and sentiment fuelled Alone In Every Crowd, the EP comes to a captivating and enthralling close. Again the pair offers a kaleidoscope of sound and creative hints which provides the imagination with a new tale to conjure with every listen but equally an emotional tempting that instantly bares the honest heart of the song.
With guest contributions from violinist Sharalalanda Laya and double-bassist Aki Heikinheimo, Bruno A. has returned as inventive as ever. Soundscapism Inc. is not a substitute for Vertigo Steps but a brand new protagonist for ears and emotions to contemplate and deeply immerse within. Certainly fans of his previous proposal will be thrilled by the new EP but so too all fans of ambience built, cinematically coloured, and emotionally cultured rock music.
The Soundscapism Inc. EP is out now @
Pete RingMaster 09/12/2015
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