The first in a series of three records from Harvestman, the magical Triptych: Part One takes root in the soul with its earthen rhythms and drones.

Release date: April 23, 2024 | Neurot Recordings | Bandcamp | Instagram

‘What are we really?
But the stories we tell ourselves
Carbon forged in dying stars
Taking a temporary shape
To dream, to struggle, to disappear’

Excerpt from Harvestman – 23 Untitled Poems, by Steve Von Till

In the summer of 2022, my wife and I drove from our home in Saskatchewan, Canada down to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming to attend the Fire in The Mountains music festival. To our surprise, our applications to volunteer at the festival were accepted and we were provided with an opportunity to attend that we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford. With a stacked line-up, spread out over a weekend, featuring bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, Enslaved, YOB, Panopticon, and more, there was one artist that I was determined not to miss – Steve Von Till. After driving over twenty hours through some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen, we arrived at the festival grounds and set up camp just as Von Till was about to take the stage. That performance, against the backdrop of the setting sun behind the Teton Mountains, was akin to a spiritual experience that I won’t soon forget.

Steve Von Till is perhaps best known for his work with the ill-fated, post-metal pioneers, Neurosis. Over the years, I dabbled in records of theirs like Through Silver in Blood, A Sun That Never Sets, and The Eye of Every Storm. Admittedly, however, it was Von Till’s folkier, more intimate solo output that I found myself most connected to. If I Should Fall to the Field and his stellar 2020 release, No Wilderness Deep Enough, are some of my favorite albums. That said, somehow, Harvestman, Von Till’s more ambient and dare I say experimental musical project, has managed to elude me until quite recently.

Triptych: Part One, as the name would suggest, is the first in a series of three records to be released by Von Till throughout the year in conjunction with specifically chosen full moons. “Psilosynth” opens the album with a cleverly panned drone ricocheting about the stereo field, drawing you deeper as Von Till pours on the layers. “Psilosynth” is all at once mesmerizing and deeply meditative, driven forward by a stuttering percussion loop and bass contributions by Al Cisneros of Sleep and Om. “Give Your Heart to the Hawk”, which follows, is a spaced-out, “Planet Caravan”-esque nod to 70’s progressive rock and psychedelia, interspersed with audio samples of poetry from Robinson Jeffers. The aptly titled “Coma” is both dreamy and unsettling, like an amusement park ride in Silent Hill. Perhaps next to “Give Your Heart to the Hawk”, though, “Nocturnal Field Song” might my favorite cut from the record. Lush and cavernous, “Nocturnal Field Song” surrounds you like autumnal dusk, patiently weaving heavily affected guitar feedback and echoing percussive elements with earthy drones and insect song.

While it’s easy to suggest that Harvestman isn’t as easily accessible as some of Von Till’s other music, it isn’t fitting to call this background noise either. This is the kind of music you want in your headphones while out walking at night to let it fully seep into your being. It’s cinematic but somehow primitive; stirring and ancient. As tends to be a common thread in Von Till’s work, there’s a distinct connection here to nature and the old ways. The choices of organic and synthetic instrumentation seem to reinforce this duality of exploring the past while the ritualistic nature of the music roots us very much in the present.

There’s a tangible, restorative magic present in all of Von Till’s work and this latest release from Harvestman is no exception. If this first record in the series is any indication, then I anticipate the full experience that this Triptych undertaking has to offer will be something exceedingly special.

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