Title: Nebbie Mattutine
Artist: Stephen Briggs
Release Date: 2014 June 17
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Label: Sucu Music
Previously, this review was titled: In Stephen Briggs Morning Mists, which might have been confusing. However, there is a simple explanation. ‘Nebbie Mattutine’ is Italian for Morning Mists. But, the part that is possibly confusing is why a gent from New Zealand would give an Italian title to his release. Perhaps more confusing: why are the track titles all in different languages: Spanish, Italian, Danish, German, etc. My gut instinct tells me that this is a composer with a global perspective, and these names are his way of injecting that perspective into a work where it might otherwise be missed.
In Stephen Briggs Morning Mists
Occasionally a work comes out of left field to blow me away. This is just such a case. I had expected this to be a shoe-gaze style solo guitar release. What I found instead is a pastoral of varying landscape settings, each evoking their own mood.
‘Hola!’ is the perfect opening track: it sets the tone for the release, and introduces us to the guitar narrator who will serve as our guide through the landscapes that are to come. ‘Una Volta’ sets the stage for the stories that we are about to explore with our faithful narrator. Each of the tracks that follows brings us into a new setting and mood, for example ‘Lystighed’ takes us on a merry, yet slightly haunted romp with its looping and echoing guitar lines, while ‘Grandiosità’ takes us into the vast, wide-open spaces.
I’ve listened to more than a few ambient guitar recordings. Many times they come across as abstract blobs of questionable form or structure. In some cases, however (such as with Cousin Silas and Bobby Jones) there are artists that have the ability to find form in the abstract, and a range of colors and textures that allow them to communicate on a level that you can only feel. They aren’t easily rationalized, they just are and you just have to experience. I’ve added Stephen Briggs to that list of artists.
When I downloaded this release, I expected that I was in for a completely dark, dense, shoe-gaze listening session. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and very happily so. Stephen Briggs is an artist who finds form in the abstract, and uses it to communicate with a multilingual world view that can take your breath away. If you are looking for a release that is extremely relaxing and meditative in nature, you can’t go wrong with this one. If you like thick layered guitar music that has a subtlety of coloration that only a guitar can bring to such works, this is a release for you. If you want a work that presents a pastoral of settings with a narrator to explore them with, this will prove to be a fitting release.
With all of these reasons, I can’t think of a reason to not take a listen to this work, and add it to your personal collection.