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Over the course of recent time, an aching, growing void has developed where our normal way of life has resided. Uncertainty abounds, and Steve Von Till‘s No Wilderness Deep Enough provides a voice of existential wisdom and experience to offer comfort and perspective in an era of uncharted territory. These six pieces of music shape a hallucinatory landscape of sound that plumbs the depths of the natural world’s mysteries and uncertainties—questions that have vexed humanity since the dawn of time asked anew amidst a backdrop that’s as haunting as it is holistic.
Von Till’s fifth solo album is a swirling and iridescent blend of ambient, neo-classical, and gothic Americana that swan-dives into the darkness of modern life, with the resulting emergence a sonic document of rural psychedelia that transcends the physical world—towards a greater spiritual acceptance that connects naturalism, spiritualism, and the corporeal form. No Wilderness Deep Enough arrives alongside Harvestman: 23 Untitled Poems and Collected Lyrics, a book of new poetry and collected lyrics from Von Till’s solo career as well as his Harvestman project. The book is a rich text that showcases his deeply felt ruminations on the myriad beginnings and endings of life itself, offering another medium of which to experience his singular artistic perspective.
With a foundation of simple melancholy piano chord progressions that came to fruition during jetlagged nights in his wife’s childhood home in Germany, No Wilderness Deep Enough was further embellished with mellotron and electronic treatments in his home studio in North Idaho. Viewing the emerging result as an ambient instrumental album, Von Till consulted friend and engineer Randall Dunn (Marissa Nadler, Earth) about adding live cello and french horn and piano in a proper studio. After enlisting Brent Arnold on cello and Aaron Korn on french horn, he challenged Von Till to sing over the music and make it his next solo album—which is exactly what happened, with final work being completed at Tucker Martine’s (the Decemberists, Neko Case) Flora Recording and Playback in Portland.
Von Till’s charted an extraordinary musical path over the last several decades, from his main duties as singer and guitarist of the boundary-breaking Neurosis to the psychedelic music of his Harvestman project and the gothic Americana he’s released under his own name. But No Wilderness Deep Enough is truly like nothing you’ve ever heard from him before—an album that’s devastatingly beautiful and overwhelming in its scope, reminiscent of the tragic ecstasy of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ recent work as well as the borderless ambient music pioneered by Brian Eno, late composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s glacial compositions, and the electronic mutations of Coil.
Von Till’s scorched ache spreads across the terrain of No Wilderness Deep Enough like a brushfire, adding a tactile level to his sonic creation as well as an inviting level of friction to the burning beauty painted across the album’s framework. From the low-slung train chug that opens “Indifferent Eyes” to the vibrating synth bass that punctures the midsection of “Shadows on the Run” and the glassy void of “The Old Straight Track,” this is music to lose yourself in, with textures so rich that listeners might try to reach out and touch them.
Lyrically, No Wilderness Deep Enough touches on themes essential to living in the world around us, as well as co-existing with ourselves and others. “It often seems to be/ Clearest at the stream,” Von Till intones over the mournful strings and miles-deep bass hits of “Dreams of Trees,” an evocation of searching that cuts further through the haze of bells and buzzing tones on “Trail the Silent Hours”: “Confusion carries us through the night/ We will always stumble through the dark.” There are no answers here, but instead a sense of guidance through the unknowns we face every day—summated perfectly within the soft explosions of closer “Wild Iron”: “The all seeing eye has no way of knowing.”
“It’s about personal longings and loss, and the loves and insecurities we all feel combined with meditations on humanity as a whole,” Von Till explains while discussing his main artistic aims behind No Wilderness Deep Enough, as well as his poetic expressions captured in Harvestman. “I’m exploring the great disconnect: from the natural world, from each other, and ultimately from ourselves—trying to find meaning and depth in re-establishing those connections, to find a resonance in purpose and acknowledging the past while looking towards the future and still being in the moment.” And with No Wilderness Deep Enough and Harvestman, Von Till has achieved a sense of mass resonance through his restless artistic exploration—providing art that journeys into the heart of fear and uncertainty in a world where we’ve often known little else.
No Wilderness Deep Enough and Harvestman: 23 Untitled Poems and Collected Lyrics arrives August 7, 2020 via Neurot Recordings. Further information and pre-order details are available here.