BRUCE SOORD – Luminescence (Album Review)

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September is quite a month, featuring solo releases from The Pineapple Thief’s & Porcupine Tree’s front men within a week of each other. The careers and artistic approaches of Bruce Soord and Steven Wilson overlap in many curious ways, well beyond the release dates of these two new albums. We’ll get to “The Harmony Codex” in short order but for now, let’s dive into the shimmering “Luminescence”, as told by Soord

When not at his day job recording and touring with Gavin Harrison, or mixing and remixing albums by other artists (see the aforementioned similarities with Wilson?), Soord occasionally embarks on a solo project to bring a more intimate look into his world. 2019’s beautiful “All This Will Be Yours” is an apt reference point for where “Luminescence” will take us. So much material was recorded over the past couple of years that a bonus album “Our Ship Sails At Dusk” will also be included with the limited edition hardback book version. Still, our focus will be on the main album, an elegantly crafted 41 minute collection of dreamy songs which will enchant most fans of this lead pineapple thief. 

Acoustic guitar is at the forefront of this album, so it is fitting that the opening notes ring out from the steel strings on “Dear Life”. However, the most impactful element on “Luminescence” is Soord’s masterful production technique. Layers of vocals, strings, keyboards and other effects all radiate in the glow of Soord’s ethereal production and mixing. The playing is sparse, economical and impactful. A five-note guitar figure on “Lie Flat” is used sparingly but stays with the listener long after the song is done, as if an extended reverb effect continues to echo in our soul.   

“Luminescence” Artwork

A hypnotic effect takes over as one 3 minute song flows into another, floating down a river of reverie, poignantly melancholic in nature as Soord compositions tend to be. The impact of Andrew Skeet’s string arrangements comes to light on “Olomouc” as Soord sings, “I guess I was scared when you weren’t there for me.” But it’s in “Never Ending Light” that the marriage of strings, guitar, voice and vibe comes to full fruition, “Cause in my dreams you’re holding on to me, just like we used to be.” The inclusion of Skeet’s strings on the majority of the album is not to be underestimated, executed with subtlety and taste.

Sirens recorded by Soord in Chicago open “Nestle In”, which is a bit unfortunate because they will break the spell of your headphone quietude, or if you’re driving you will be looking for the police in the rearview mirror. Nonetheless, it’s one of the most energized songs of the bunch as “the storm is approaching”, and an excellent choice for the second single. Soord takes the field recording approach a little further during the instrumental “Rushing” which, despite its title, still feels like the most zen interpretation of being in a hurry that I’ve experienced. Meanwhile, “Read To Me” is an ambient piece for bed time if you fancy. 

There’s not much on “Luminescence” that will surprise Soord’s fans. The approach to music, lyrics and arrangement is extremely similar to what we’ve heard before from both his solo albums and The Pineapple Thief. However, it’s the quality and consistency which makes this album rise above and stand out. Haunting melodies, subtle but impactful string arrangements, textured production – these are present on nearly every song, forming an addictive collection which keeps us coming back for more. You may not “find any answers”, as the song “Find Peace” explores, but you just may find bliss. 

Released By: Kscope Records
Release Date: September 22nd, 2023
Genre:  Progressive Rock / Indie / Acoustic

“Luminescence” track-listing:

  1. Dear Life 3:27
  2. Lie Flat 3:51
  3. Olomouc 3:55
  4. So Simple 2:05
  5. Never Ending Light 4:11
  6. Day of All Days 3:19
  7. Nestle In 3:13
  8. Instant Flash of Light 3:37
  9. Rushing 3:03
  10. Stranded Here 3:41
  11. Read To Me 2:08
  12. Find Peace 3:46

“Luminescence” will be released as a limited edition deluxe 3 disc hardback book (Luminescence + exclusive bonus album + 48 page book + DVD) / CD / LP / Limited Edition Blue LP / Digital and in Dolby Atmos. You can pre-order it HERE.

8.8 Excellent

Don the headphones, sit back and drift along blissfully to this dreamy collection of songs from Bruce Soord, mastermind of The Pineapple Thief. Featuring sparse but compelling arrangements, “Luminescence” shimmers under Soord’s skilled production and Andrew Skeet’s moody strings. An understated gem of a recording.

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 8.5
  • Originality 7.5
  • Production 10
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