Richmond, VA local Steve Ashby creates moods with his atmospheric soundscapes. His latest album, Lowland, shows emotive struggles with crashing and colliding sounds. The three tracks play out like a battle for sanity, happiness and hope. Without knowing the story behind Ashby’s album, listeners can quickly understand the evolution of his echoes and sketches.
The track “Drift” captures a drifting journey of emotions by manipulating the soundscapes to represent this theme. The sounds move from low to high, chaotic to smooth, and loud to soft from moment to moment. This creates a rollercoaster constantly reaching its peaks and spikes until it suddenly stops.
To emulate a gritty street vibe “Lowland” uses dark tones and moody beats. This track feels combative. “Lowland” channels a battle, maybe between two people, or maybe the soul against its demons. The layered sounds help show the sentiment of too much being piled onto someone until they erupt into a sound explosion. Then they fade away.
“Recover” uses more cheery beats than the other two tracks. The addition of piano sounds help to construct a sharp contrast with the electronic rhythms in the song. The idea of battling emotions is most prevalent in “Recover.” This piece feels like a battle between optimism and pessimism. These dueling sounds often co-exist on the track, but they occasionally outshine one another, like in life.
Lowland pleasantly shows the depth of music. Without words or pictures, a great musical artist uses sounds to canvas their story. Lowland lets the imagination see what they eyes can’t.
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