The gentlest of albums, “Adrift” is an ambient afterglow of dreams, feelings, beauty and emotion. It’s such a great late night indulgence I have had to have it on repeat so that I can make sure I am definitely listening to it and taking it in because it’s so effortless to do so.
The title track opens the album with warm piano ambience and a drawing out of each chord through lots of technical wizardry. It’s chord change through an emotive scale and Steve is able to balance warmth, vulnerability and an emotional mountain peak over the six minutes without ever becoming overwrought, dramatic or needing more than some ambient keyboards, piano and some micro percussion. “Raklipp” follows with a muted piano that is played so lightly yet so close to the speaker, you can hear the hammered hitting the ivory clearly and the muted notes trickle through your ears as the hypnotic melody gathers complexity and momentum. It’s a superb piece. “Patterns” is a more subdued and deliberate plodding. The piano is lethargic in its melody and the ambient swirls that permeate the piano then give way to a beautiful string arrangement that underpins the claustrophobic beauty of the track. Again, it’s never fraught but it has its peaks and fades without ever screaming them and that makes it quietly moving.
“Contention” is a track that envelops and engrosses you from the opening warbles of synths and echoes to the beautiful piano arrangement that joins it and together it grows into an amazing piece. It’s one of the few tracks that makes you wait for the pay off and to me it’s really well placed in the album because the following track “Bokeh” then has a tonal shift. This track switches to the electric acoustic guitar as its main focus and has an epiphany or enlightenment to it. The melody which is joined by some great tuned percussion, piano and synth work is one of the more complex tracks on the album, but is also the most joyous and carefree. I felt like I’d broken free – I’d made it. Yet I don’t really know what I’d made! “Low Light” is similar to Raklipp in its intimate recording of a piano track and this too has some rolling melodies that develop into emotive trickles of ear porn. This track has more transitions and feels like a merry-go-round. It paves the way for “Evoke” which is the epic and understated closer. The string arrangement that drenches the piano is memorable and organic. It doesn’t need lots of bells and whistles – it goes straight for the jugular.
Steve Gibbs’ “Adrift” is a classical contemporary masterpiece. It’s short but it has so much impact in the time it spends with you in the speakers and yet doesn’t leave you for a long time to come afterwards. It’s simply magical and I was truly moved by it. That to me is what music is all about and Steve’s nailed it with this début album.