Golden Brown

Following up last year’s year-end list keeper Gems & Minerals, Stefan Beck’s latest strips away the multi-instrumental menagerie from that album to focus on the guitar. Layering the instrument in cascading waves, like works from fellow instrumentalists Matt Lajoie or rootless, the record is a respite of calm — stillness on the water before the world wakes up. Beck’s playing moves away from some of the kosmiche textures from his previous couple of releases and into a spiraling serenity that’s more inner world than outer reaches. The circular patterns ride the golden coil through the mind, finding an inner peace that’s necessary for pretty much any day we’re living in 2022.

There are some outside influences on Luminous, though. The record only focuses on the guitar as instrumentation, but its laced with field recordings from Stefan’s local surroundings in Colorado. The connection to his natural environment is central to the record’s sense of grounded meditation. The pieces swirl through the soul, but the gentle burble of these environments keep the listener from tumbling too far inward, a gentle reminder that we’re still tethered to the Terra Firma. While it shows another shade of Golden Brown’s songwriting, Luminous is another stunning reminder that Beck’s works are worth seeking out among the gems of the mountain states.

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