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Steve Von Till

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The addition of guitarist and singer Steve Von Till into the Bay Area hardcore act Neurosis in the early '90s coincided with the band's shift from brutal thrash punk (the original cover of the group's first album, 1987's Pain of Mind, featured a news photo of Pennsylvania Attorney General Robert "Budd" Dwyer committing suicide during a live televised news conference earlier that year) into a more complex brew. Starting with 1992's Souls at Zero, Neurosis brought together psychedelic stoner metal, doomy goth rock, and nearly medieval folk tunes. Von Till was equally instrumental in the development of the Neurosis offshoot Tribes of Neurot, in which the band collaborates with outside musicians to create a form of improvisational neo-tribal music. Along with albums like the conceptual mindbender Adaptation and Survival: The Insect Project (an entire album's worth of electronically manipulated insect noises, originally released in 1998 as three vinyl records of varying sizes meant to be played at different speeds on multiple turntables at the same time), Tribes of Neurot also released a spate of EPs coinciding with the lunar equinoxes and solstices of the years 1999-2001. The one-off ambient noise supergroup the Culper Ring followed; the trio of Von Till, Amber Asylum's Kris Force (whose own group features Von Till as an occasional adjunct member), and SubArachnoid Space's Mason Jones released the Nurse with Wound-like 355 in 2001. This was followed by the solo project Harvestman; under that name, 2005's Lashing the Rye fuses traditional British folk songs such as "Scarborough Fair" with 1970s-style European progressive rock. Along with his main group and these myriad side projects, Von Till began a proper solo career with 2000's one-man acoustic effort As the Crow Flies. Released in 2002, If I Should Fall to the Field further developed the folk and country leanings of Von Till's solo works, adding fiddle, pedal steel, and banjo to his quiet vocals and folkish strumming. A Grave Is a Grim Horse continued the trend in 2008, including covers of an obscure Nick Drake song and tunes by country stars Lyle Lovett, Mickey Newbury, and Townes Van Zandt. ~ Stewart Mason

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