“Luminous”, the seventh full-length release from Golden Brown finds Stefan Beck taking new routes to arrive at his signature blend of cosmic and arcadian soundscapes. These pieces grew out of a desire to find new liberties and expand the range of the Golden Brown lexicon, rather than fall back into the familiar domain of past endeavors. Maintaining a sense of freedom and discovery was paramount to the process of writing and recording the pieces that became “Luminous”.
Tracing the grooves of our accustomed habits can keep us indefinitely locked in, until we intentionally break the pattern. Part of the road to realizing “Luminous” was deciding to only use guitars to generate the tracks, foregoing the mandocello, keyboards, and his wife’s cello playing that graced last year’s “Gems and Minerals”. Out of that limitation emerged a focus on re-imagining Beck’s guitar practice, abandoning his usual tunings and picking patterns, with most of the songs coming out of a daily improvisation practice. He even experimented with a prepared guitar approach on Mammoth Star, ala early twentieth century extended piano techniques from the likes of Cowell and Cage. He also wanted to highlight the unique resonance and idiosyncrasy of a Harmony cast aluminum lap steel from 1936, which provides the leading voice in Ghosts, to haunting effect.
Another important piece of creating “Luminous” was establishing a connection, through music, to the local Colorado landscape and trails where Beck has found much inspiration and respite. Beck made most, if not all, of the field recordings along a particular favorite trail in Boulder County and later composed several of the pieces in dialogue to the rhythms and textures captured in those recordings. A synergistic effect is perhaps most notable on the album’s closer, Safe and Somewhat Sound, where a couple of guitars mingle on the periphery with a creek, insects, and birds, coalescing into a new imaginary version of that landscape, while Beck’s fingerpicked acoustic weaves in and out of the bubbling chorus.
released April 8, 2022
Stefan Beck: guitars, lap steel, and field recordings.
Artwork and mastering by Sean Conrad.