JOSIAH STEINBRICK: MEETING OF WATERS

October 22nd, 2017 | Album reviews

JOSIAH STEINBRICK
Meeting of Waters
Leaving

On the surface, Josiah Steinbrick’s Meeting of Waters bears the marks of uncompromising avant-garde intellectualism. There are no vocals or traditional song structures, and the track titles are just lists of instruments in parentheses: “(Synthesizer, Two Idiophones, Rin Gong).” But the music itself is happily accessible. The record opens with “(Five Synthesizers),” a minimalist refrain with woody synth tones tip-toeing through a slow melody. Every so often a single note blooms into a chord and the sequence starts over. It’s a concept that reduces music to its elemental form, and the results sound almost catchy. Steinbrick doesn’t make you wait for a payoff—instead, the composition’s tension builds and resolves within the short repetitive patterns. Some pieces, like “(Synthesizer, Two Idiophones, Rin Gong),” are built atop droning soundscapes, but Steinbrick’s best works merge rhythmic and melodic elements into one. On “(Two Bonangs, Coated Spheres, Piano, Two Synthesizers, Natural Objects),” for instance, a series of tuned percussive hits move loosely around a repeating theme. It might seem like the sort of sound-bed that could fade into the background, but the music here commands attention, delivering just the right amount of dissonance to stay unpredictable. At times, the way Steinbrick’s fragments of sound ricochet before settling perfectly into place makes Meeting of Waters sound someone assembling a musical puzzle. And the way Steinbrick puts it all together satisfies the most obsessive compulsive desires—in the end, it’s a perfectly symmetrical pattern.

—Joe Rihn

JOSIAH STEINBRICK’S MEETING OF WATERS IS OUT FRI., OCT. 27, ON LEAVING RECORDS.