Steve Von Till finds beauty and humanity within a chaotic universe on No Wilderness Deep Enough | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Steve Von Till finds beauty and humanity within a chaotic universe on No Wilderness Deep Enough 

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click to enlarge Steve Von Till

Steve Von Till

Niela Von Till

Steve Von Till is best known as co-front man of the mighty Neurosis, but for two decades the singer, multi-instrumentalist, and poet has also led an ambitious and expansive solo career. Under his own name he’s released dark pastoral folk, and as Harvestman he’s made dynamic, psych- and drone-infused music. On his new album, No Wilderness Deep Enough (released alongside a new book titled Harvestman: 23 Untitled Poems and Collected Lyrics), Von Till merges those personas with glistening ambient washes and somber neoclassical arrangements. He began working on the album in early 2018, first recording stark piano melodies on the rural land in northern Germany that his wife’s family has farmed for more than 500 years and then adding electronic elements at his home studio in Idaho. He originally intended No Wilderness Deep Enough to be strictly instrumental, but when he consulted producer Randall Dunn about incorporating French horn and cello in the studio (provided by Aaron Korn and Brent Arnold, respectively), his friend challenged him to add lyrics. Though the music certainly could’ve stood on its own, Von Till’s deep voice and contemplative delivery help draw threads connecting heaven and earth and his ruminations on longing, loss, and humanity, which lie at the album’s core. “Indifferent Eyes” seems to cast its glance upward—its shooting-star synths cascade into serene piano and cello, as if providing a glimmer of light by which Von Till can study the possibilities in detachment, the unknown, and connection. On the brooding, textural “Shadows on the Run,” he ponders the esoteric mysteries of the universe and the legacies of those who’ve left this plane of existence behind. Neurosis at their most turbulent and commanding can summon all the heaviness of the world—a sonic manifestation of Atlas bearing his load—even as they break into cosmic catharsis. No Wilderness Deep Enough carries some of that same weight, but for all the enormity of its spacious meditations, they also offer us a chance to stretch out, take a breath, and even tap into untouched sources of strength before we head into the next storm.   v

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