Multi-instrumentalist, producer and The Pineapple Thief mastermind Bruce Soord’s new album ‘Luminescence’ was released September 22nd. This new album is his third solo offering. Inspired by the idea of finding inner peace, Soord’s latest solo release explores the difficulty of living in the metropolis of the modern world. Born from days exploring various cities whilst on tour, tracks from the album feature recordings from Soord’s various wanderings captured on his field recorder.
Recorded between January 2021 and June of 2023, the album was cut at Soord Studios with additional strings recorded at RAK Studio 3 in London, featuring arrangements from Andrew Skeet, long time member of The Divine Comedy and musical producer of the orchestration on many films/tv shows from Netflix’s smash hit Black Mirror to David Attenborough’s Green Planet and Dynasties II.
You could draw parallels between Bruce Soord and Steven Wilson who, after many years building success with Porcupine Tree, segued into an equally successful solo career and has just released his latest solo offering, ‘The Harmony Codex’, to much acclaim. While being a fan of The Pineapple Thief, I do think that Soord’s solo output is every bit as good, if not as extensive, as Mr Wilson’s. However, with ‘Luminescence’, I do feel that Bruce Soord has created something more intimate and warm and one that, with its soul-searchingly sparse soundscapes, really resonates with me.
There’s Soord’s signature melancholy in the dark beauty of opener Dear Life, a poignant track sung from the perspective of an elderly parent, on their death bed, to their child. The elegant swathes of Andrew Skeet’s strings and the wistful guitar blend with Bruce’s heartfelt vocal to deliver something starkly elegant. The brevity of tracks like Lie Flat may appear uncomplicated but there are hidden meanings and nostalgic snapshots throughout. A more simplistic approach of stylish acoustic guitar and gentle electronica imbues a laid back, unhurried feel throughout while that inner peace is sought. One of my personal favourites is the glorious Olomouc where the ethereal strings work against the backdrop of that wonderful acoustic guitar to give a moment of pure clarity and the vocals’ nostalgic timbre just add to the stillness and calm.
There are moments of lucidity and purity brought by the stylish transience of songs like the lush So Simple and the delicate soundscape of Read to Me and a mental pause brought about by the iridescent shimmer of Never Ending Light where Bruce’s vocal is most definitely the focus, aided and abetted by the exquisite strings and classically played guitar. The pared back note of Day of All Days flowers into something altogether more seriousness with the unadorned guitar and more direct vocals and Nestle In explores the concept of the incessant speed of life causing humanity to not appreciate what is wrong in the world. Once again Andrew Skeet’s beautifully emotive strings accompany the minimalist yet emotive electronica bubbling in the foreground.
Instant Flash of Light adds a more urgent feel from the guitar and vocals to its Americana feeling sound, countered by the dazzling strings and sumptuous chorus to create yet another moment of sheer class. Rushing, with its faster pace and nimble electronica leaves you left in the middle of a crowded scene, a bar perhaps or even the concourse of a busy station. A wonderfully wistful and touching piece of music, Stranded Here is a study in thoughtful melancholy and one that left a lump in my throat and the album closes with the touching elegance of Find Peace.
There won’t be many albums created with as much love and affection as ‘Luminescence’. Bruce Soord has laid his soul bare and given us an intimate insight into the world he inhabits and, in exploring the difficulty of living in the metropolis of the modern world, Bruce has delivered an album of extraordinary songs and one that will stand the test of time.
Released 22nd September, 2023.
Order from ‘Luminescence’ here: