Adrift is the beautiful debut album from UK composer-pianist Steve Gibbs. Acting loosely as a reissue of Gibbs’ hugely popular Bandcamp release of a similar collection of pieces, this expanded, re-mastered, heavyweight vinyl edition paints a clear picture of a composer mastering his form. It is a record of astonishing warmth, eloquence and sophistication, bedding deep in the ear, whether punctuating subtle moments of silence or rising to sublime heights.
Steve Gibbs ostensibly occupies a similar territory to his peers in the broad and unstructured “modern classical” world. His instrumentation – piano, strings, gentle electronics, occasional guitars – is used with a similar sense of vision as Goldmund, Ólafur Arnalds, Dustin O’Halloran, Stars of the Lid, the piano solos of Arvo Pärt. Yet Adrift retains a singularity, a distinct and forward-facing identity. Its canvas, though rich and vivid like theirs, is left purposefully spacious and open. Passages of soft microsound comparable to Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto’s duet albums or Mika Vainio merge with lusher cinemascapes akin to Clint Mansell and Max Richter. Album opener ‘Passion’ combines breathtakingly pretty musicbox and piano sounds and lamenting chords to underpin its seaswells of white noise. By ‘Bokeh’ – the final piece – varying themes of elevation, melancholy, catharsis, love and loss have been sparingly, economically dotted about the pindrop elegance. “One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt and follow as a rule is that simplicity is often much more effective,” Gibbs writes. “The space left in between the notes are almost as important as the notes themselves.”
Adrift is now out on vinyl through Injazero Records and is available here. Watch the premiere for the video made by Alex Kozobolis for the track ‘Passion’ here: