Rebecca Lee is a storyteller. On her newest album as Bredbeddle, she weaves a sprawling, engaging narrative across four pieces in roughly two hours. Each of the four tracks on Steps on the Turning Year wind through countless sonic avenues, taking unexpected twists and turns to the point that it’s impossible to know where Lee will go from minute to minute. That unpredictability is part of Bredbeddle’s charm, but also a cornerstone to these vivid tonal portraits.
Immediately Steps on the Turning Year commands attention with a lilting string recital dancing into frame. It’s soft yet striking before being looped as if it’s a memory stuck in time. Crunching hiss churns beneath, getting louder and louder until it’s completely consumed the small orchestra, the memories being engulfed and ravaged by the relentlessness of age. As the story unfolds, flute lamentations reminiscent of a James Newton piece shining beneath darkened skies before disembodied voices crackle in the air, snippets of a past life.
Lee’s collection of sounds and field recordings is massive. On the aptly titled “Bredbeddle Ballet,” she shoves off on an interstellar exploration and transmits disorientated remembrances back to Earth. Dancing back-and-forth between amateur violin expressions to laid-back electronic chill and everything in between, “Bredbeddle Ballet” finds meaning in simply heading off in a direction and getting lost. It’s the sound of discovery and finding yourself within the free-flowing chaos of all that surrounds us. Lee bends it through a skewed prism, giving interesting and often poignant new perspectives on recognizable sounds, breathing a new essence into the familiar.
Steps on the Turning Year can be overwhelming, especially in one sitting as it often stirs buried emotions in surprising ways while stretching out past the horizon. Yet, it’s worth the investment of time and attention as small details emerge, adding another layer to the already packed compositions. With closer, “The Gavle Goat,” Lee leans heavily on voice-based samples, concluding her aural novella with the first, and often most powerful instrument. It’s all of life’s tiny, intimate moments flashing across the screen in the final moments before the credits roll. Bredbeddle is a lovely reminder to take every opportunity to get lost and find yourself.
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