Review: Brian McBride – The Effective Disconnect

The Effective Disconnect was originally intended as a soundtrack for The Vanishing Of The Bees – a documentary about the decline of the honey bee and its staggering implications. However, the album ended up taking a more sorrowful route than was perhaps appropriate, and many of the pieces in this selection will not feature in the film as a result.

McBride was actually asked to focus on the “gloriousness of the bees” in his composition. Whilst there is the smallest glint of triumph and optimism in the music here, it’s the way in which this triumph feels ready to dim and fade which overrides and ends up being much more poignant – glorious though the bees may be, The Effective Disconnect seems to account the mournful inevitably of their last day of existence.

The sound arrives in soft swoops of organic instruments – piano, guitar, flugel and strings to name the most prominent voices – occasionally teetering on the edge of silence but always returning in cyclical, tide-like motions. Fans of Stars Of The Lid certainly won’t feel out of place here, with tender chord progressions locked into warm clouds of drone, although there’s a certain tangibility and intimacy to Brian’s solo work which separates it from his main project. It’s less grand, softer spoken, with its eyes pointing sorrowfully inwards rather than gazing wondrously into orbit.

“Supposed Essay On The Piano” commences a run of the albums most gorgeous moments – gentle piano pulses, two-chord interchanges and pretty dissonance gliding through the gaps, touching into melancholic breaking point during the final section of “Toil Theme”, during which the strings rise from barely-conscious sparseness into proud gushes of climax. It’s a gorgeous record, and one that may have actually benefitted from being detached from the documentary it was intended for – The Effective Disconnect has enough depth and emotion running through it to demand primary focus, leaving the listener free to explore every heartbroken inch of its landscape without visual distraction.