starsendradio

Spacemusic Reviews

Tag: Stephen Hummel

subtractiveLAD: Minor Deities

Minor DeitiesStephen Hummel

subtractiveLAD: Minor Deities
Released: 7 October 2022
www.subtractiveLAD.com

Culminating the passions of a mind in motion subtractiveLAD (aka Stephen Hummel) commends to the world 11 pieces – 11 transporting fantasies from his Minor Deities (76:02). Stepping inside (where we will not contemplate the life of this artist, but rather the ideas that drive it) this release makes audible an internal frequency of truth. In a track by track breakdown we find that each one seems different in makeup. Yet something indescribable joins them together into a weave of complexly connected stories. Utilizing mesmerizing colors, patterns and textures Hummel conjures an electro-rush immediacy with craftsman-like proficiency and attention to detail. Charting a course of subtle emotions Minor Deities delivers a strange mix of sensations: apprehension, fixation, wonder, gratitude – slowed down into a fantasy of coiled up power. Dark and measured, borne by its own momentum, further in the unstable material rises in reckless motion. Ethereal choirs and strings offer certainty while elsewhere sinister chords swell in gentle sonic turbulence. From synth jams and whispering ambience to surreal stillness and tender melodic engagement, this album captures a range of beautiful, elusive moods. In one corner a rising sequencer run leads us to space, then disperses into stardust heavens. Another zone produces a fragile twilight atmosphere of fragility and repose. Taking flight in various imaginative manipulations of sound, lilting piano notes and heavenly vocalize enchant the dreamy drama – easing these electronic scenes in a remarkable chill. Music of this quality can move us toward something higher at the best of times, or at the very least exist as a reminder of our collective human potential, creativity, and spirituality. Minor Deities deserves that the act of listening be an act of intelligence – with the listener truly attending and adoring what they are hearing.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END27 October 2021

Advertisement

subtractiveLAD: Calm

Calm

Calm

subtractiveLAD: Calm
Released: 9 May 2019
www.stephenhummel.ca

As would a meteor seeking a lost sun, or something gradually falling in darkness, the three tracks on Calm (39’23”) move across a listening space. Sounding mildly on the twilight subtractiveLAD (aka Stephen Hummel) uses guitars and synthesizers to realize a softened Spacemusic. With sure pacing and sharp timing this EP does indeed exist as an innovative exercise in concision and imagination, but it will also prompt beautiful daydreams. Calm ably travels through the mind on reverb laden chords, and currents of jewel-toned steel strings. Quietly resplendent, we may imagine the constituent parts of these compositions as smooth shifting shapes that emerge out of fog, breathe, and then dissolve back into nothing. Rounded tones ride alone on an echoing current of flexing sound, while others give off a metal ringing. Recurring themes subtly spin fragments of melody, then transpose these phrases into a novel, vaguely familiar repetition. Threading its soft-hued lunar lullabies into active, ambient forms, a structure is more suggested than it is scored. Ending in a soft plum dawn, we could easily just stay floating there forever. Whether expressing soul searching florid adagios, or a poised private melancholy, Hummel’s ideas spread out in elegant waves of notes – each building with an unhurried sense of inevitability. His controlled improvisations move with nuance and empathy. A blur of slow gestures his hovering drones seem to offer the brightest possibilities for new beauty. As the mainstream cites all the evils of a world coming to its end, let us use this music to help renew our sense of wonder. As the future will be thus tamed, a great peace will lay over the land.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END27 June 2019