Brother Saturn is the name that Littleton, Colorado musician Dew Miller uses for his ambient works. Aside from a space exploration themed series of albums released online by a European label, he releases his own work on his own schedule. He is a musician born into the modern way of selling music to the world: Post it, talk about it, get your friends talking. Online word of mouth works faster than the classic version and this has led him to getting favorable local press coverage and performing live shows under this and his other musical pseudonym: Chromadrift.
This album, Passage of Light, is his first album where he focuses on the piano. It would be classified under post rock, similar to Eluvium’s EP An Accidental Memory in the Case of Death. The artwork for the album cover makes use of genre defining characteristics such as blurry or otherwise slightly off photography. The front cover, a sole spotlight, was taken during Nuit Blanche 2015 in Toronto. The back cover and inner gatefold were taken in St. Jacob’s Ontario one night in an attempt at star trail photography.
The book is a black and white collection of illustrations and handlettering done both with a dip pen and ink as well as digitally in Illustrator. Conversations with Miller revealed the influence of David Bowie on his work, as evidenced by an instrumental cover of Space Oddity on his Soundcloud. Keeping with the constellations and stars on the back cover, the book has a number of black stars both for the design element and as a tribute. The book opens and closes with a tunnel surrounded by stars, going in and out. There is a journey in this album, illustrated in handlettered snippets of text written by Miller to describe the tracks.
The other main recurring image that covers the book, cover, LP, and download card, is the image of Orion. Orion is a hunter, a hunter who was killed by his love Artemis, goddess of the moon and the hunt. In his death, she placed him among the stars. There is much in this story to learn. love will hurt us, heal us, sometimes kill us, but it will certainly change us. The passage of light from one to another leaves everything irrevocably different. We will, all of us, make mistakes, some days we shoot the arrows, some days we catch them. Orion is usually shown proud of his hunt, of his kill, but, as Maggie Estep said, “Love conquers all including its participants,” and while the narrative is fiction, it is made of intimate truths.
If the type is not handlettered here, it is Glacial Indifference, a simple sans serif typeface with an open license for personal and commercial projects. This was selected for its lack of variety, offering only a regular, a bold, and an oblique, taking the guesswork out of creating hierarchy. This was also selected because it sounds like a song title Miller would use, a fact he agreed with and laughed about.
There are a lot of concepts explored on this album, fragility, vulnerability, and searching. which is an awful lot for an instrumental album. The artwork, with the ideas of how light and image travel through the eye, the lightswitch bridge, and asking the chief question of the album: “Are you home yet?” The soft photography on the outside gives way to a hard black and white core. This binary dichotomy Is meant to show a baance between light and dark. Each image would work when inverted. This was also done to save on printing costs. For the purposes of this mock up, that’s a non issue, but for a full press run, the amount saved on the book would balance out the cost of the jacket.
Early in this album’s development, it was called Garden of Wire and certain design elements in this book will reflect that history. They are included for completion’s sake. Changing direction is part of the process that led to this being what it is.