Today's Artist is a longstanding leader in contemporary electronic music, composer and multi-instrumentalist,a onetime professional motorbike racer born 1955 in La Mesa, California, drew on the beauty and power of the earth's landscapes to create lush, meditative soundscapes influential on the emergence of ambient and trance. Drawing from a vast, unique, deeply personal authenticity, his releases cover a wide range of dynamic styles all of which bear his signature voice. For 35 years the boundaries are constantly challenged in his work, ranging in style from pure floating spaces, analog sequencer music, primordial tribal, rhythmic ambient, dark ambient, long-form 'drift ambient,' and avant garde atonal ambient.....N'Joy
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A longstanding leader in contemporary electronic music, composer and multi-instrumentalist Steve Roach drew on the beauty and power of the Earth's landscapes to create lush, meditative soundscapes influential on the emergence of ambient and trance. Born in California in 1955, Roach -- inspired by the music of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Vangelis -- taught himself to play synthesizer at the age of 20. Debuting in 1982 with the album Now, his early work was quite reminiscent of his inspirations, but with 1984's Structures from Silence, his music began taking enormous strides. The album's expansive and mysterious atmosphere was partly inspired by the natural beauty of the southwestern U.S. Subsequent works, including 1986's three-volume Quiet Music series honed Roach's approach, his dense, swirling textures and hypnotic rhythms akin to environmental sound sculptures.
In 1988, inspired by the Peter Weir film The Last Wave, Roach journeyed to the Australian outback, with field recordings of aboriginal life inspiring his acknowledged masterpiece, the double-album Dreamtime Return. A year later, he teamed with percussionist Michael Shrieve and guitarist David Torn for The Leaving Time, an experiment in ambient jazz. After relocating to the desert outskirts of Tucson, Arizona, Roach established his own recording studio, Timeroom. In the years to follow, he grew increasingly prolific, creating both as a solo artist and in tandem with acts including Robert Rich, Michael Stearns, Jorge Reyes, and Kevin Braheny -- in all, he recorded close to two-dozen major works in the '90s alone, all of them located at different points on the space-time continuum separating modern technology and primitive music.
His album roster from that decade includes Strata (1991), Artifacts (1994), Well of Souls (1995), Amplexus (1997), and Dust to Dust (1998). Early Man was released on Projekt in early 2001, followed by one of his many collaborations with Vidna Obmana, Innerzone. Throughout the remainder of the 2000s, Roach remained extremely prolific. His release schedule included the Projekt titles Trance Spirits (with Jeffrey Fayman) and the quadruple-disc Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces, Spirit Dome and Somewhere Else (with Obmana), Fever Dreams, Mantram, and Nada Terma (with Byron Metcalf and Mark Seelig), and the ongoing Immersion series, Arc of Passion, and Stream of Thought (with Erik Wøllo). He also self-released several titles on his own through Timeroom Editions.
Over the next decade, Roach would show no signs of slowing as he continued with a non-stop slew of new material under his own name, as well as collaborations and soundtrack work. Though new volumes of work appeared at a clip of more than three albums per year, standouts included more collaborations with Byron Metcalf, 2013's Future Flows, 2014's disparate releases of arid road trip music on The Desert Collection and ambient explorations of mortality and humanity on The Delicate Forever. Roach began constructing an extensive analog modular synthesizer system in 2014, and in 2015, the album Skeleton Keys was composed entirely using this setup. In 2016, Roach released two full-lengths with Robert Logan (the more rhythmic Biosonic and the serene drone album Second Nature), as well as solo efforts This Place to Be and Shadow of Time.
In concert, Steve creates transcendent electronic music emerging from an elemental instinctual mode. These events bring together an audience from around the country and as far away as Europe, all looking to experience the on-the-edge experience that erupts in the live setting. This makes Steve's concerts an entirely different experience from the recorded medium. With months of preparation absorbed into his system, evocative soundscapes blend with ecstatic rhythmic sections born from hands-on analog sound creation and sonic shapeshifting. The result is a direct transference of creative energy from the artist through his instruments out to the listener. Live performances are the place where Steve's music thrives, created at the leading edge of now.
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While Midnight Moon may not be Steve Roach's first recorded encounter with a guitar, it is his first recording playing the guitar. The seven moody soundscapes that make up Midnight Moon are actually interrelated pieces based on Roach's experimentation with that instrument, a fretless bass, and the E-bow. Unlike Roach's other single-work concept pieces, such as Dreamcircle, The Magnificent Void, and others, the notion of movement on Midnight Moon is different: It doesn't move toward or away from anything or come back to the place it began. Its seven pieces are reflections, under the particular moons of midnight, from full perception of its glow to total darkness. The guitar in this instance is of particular use given its ability to present stark contrast and large empty spaces. From the nine-minute "Ancestor's Circle," where the trace of a physical space is all that remains in the memory of the perceiver, and what it tries to conjure of that place of observance, to "Midnight Loom," which is 21 minutes in the presence of that which is truly luminous, shimmering in its stark yet majestic beauty. A language is evoked between the three instruments of an image and its shadows, traces and fleeting sleights of mind. You can never be sure of what it is you are hearing or seeing -- particularly if you listen in the dark! It's a gorgeous work that seems to dissolve as suddenly as it appeared, into Aether. "Deadwood" and "Broken Town" are not merely haunting pieces, they are haunted. They present the more ominous and lonely aspects of nocturnal presence and spectral visitation. This is the "dark night of the soul" so to speak. In "Hope" there is an emergence, of sorts. It is tentative, a glistening in the darkness, shard of light under the shade of night. It is as if there was something breathing, emanating under the dome of heaven, some visitation by a heavenly presence bringing comfort after the previous trial. And finally, in "Later Phase" and "Moon and Star," Roach has not so much come full circle as shown the phases and faces of the orb that controls the tides and offers solace to some and terror to others. As in "Ancestor's Circle," a hazy, gauzy history is invoked, called from special terrains that have long since passed from the earth though they inhabit our psyches, whisper to our emotions, and cause us to look inward to see where it is we come from. "Moon and Star" brings with its sonic architecture the full manifestation of those presences, not hunted but certainly haunted, brazenly shining in darkness and in light, threatening to no one and instructive for all who would look -- and listen. This is a marvelous next step into Steve Roach's ever widening cavern of inner sound worlds.
Steve Roach - Midnight Moon (flac 248mb)
01 Ancestors Circle 8:58
02 Midnight Loom 21:50
03 Deadwood 7:33
04 Broken Town 10:37
05 Hope 5:00
06 Later Phase 11:45
07 Moon And Star 7:26
Steve Roach - Midnight Moon (ogg 144mb)
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This fifth installment in Steve Roach's personal Timeroom Editions series is among the finest of the lot. Reuniting with Jorge Reyes, Roach's running partner in Suspended Memories with Suso Saiz, creates a fresh field of exploration both electronically and organically given Reyes' ability to conjure oceans of music from a small bag full of flutes and percussion instruments. Vine - Spore & Bark is a journeying piece, a shamanic travel through dark spaces for the elements of healing. The trajectory of the journey is notated in the titles of the pieces featured: "Healing Place," "Sorcerer's Temple," "The Holy Dirt," "Night Journey," "Spore and Bark," "Healing Temple," and "Gone From Here." The journey begins with the sounds of the forest coming from all directions, randomly informing the entrance of the music, which seems to be emanating from the same place. As Reyes' chanting voice prayerfully intones in the "Sorcerer's Temple," drums and natural sounds waft in and out of the mix, gradually forcing his vocal to the background of an ambience that is now empty save for the seemingly random sounds and dense feeling of unknowing, or blindness. "Holy Dirt" brings the organic to the fore, with spare percussion touching softly the drones Roach creates with his keyboards. Sounds of water are everywhere and nowhere. Percussion gradually enters creating a series of polyrhythms for the drones to work against, initially as if adversaries and join forces later in the piece. Once that union takes place, it is a matter of sonic exploration into the root of existence, the dirt, the spore, the bark, and all the elements that create the medicine. Reyes and Roach create a mystical mine field with surprises at every turn, a wilderness where anything can, and does happen. The journey is through the darkness of the spirit and the senses with only the courage of purpose as a guide and the spirit world surrounding the forest and underworld in ever nook, under every stone, just beyond that bend. In "Spore and Bark," the gathering's done, and the first part of the journey is completed; the transformation begins once the medicine is mixed. Heavy drums, groans, moans, and the sound of as snake slithering underfoot carry the listener deeper into "The Healing Temple." At this point the shamanic journey becomes an alchemist's laboratory; the administration of this musical medicine comes shimmering from the shadows and into the foreground of consciousness -- no longer traveling blind, the music moves with heat, purpose, and verve. Grace is everywhere before the final movement, the last elemental ingredient of the journey, which is not to return home, but to be "Gone From Here." Twenty minutes in length, this is Roach at his best, creating a sound world for the inner fire, the inner temple, where heaven, earth, and the spirit of flesh and its spiritual healing come together for a moment of eternity; the question is wide open, especially as random drums enter as the music wafts into silence. On the inner sleeve of the album the quote "The music is the medicine" is stamped; in this case, the case of Vine - Spore & Bark, that is literally true.
Steve Roach (with Jorge Reyes) - Vine - Bark & Spore (flac 378mb)
01 Clearing Place 2:38
02 Sorcerer's Temple 5:21
03 The Holy Dirt 13:43
04 Night Journey 13:38
05 Spore And Bark 11:21
06 Healing Temple 5:50
07 Gone From Here 19:27
Steve Roach (with Jorge Reyes) - Vine - Bark & Spore (ogg 175mb)
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Initially surfacing as a limited-edition one-disc release in late 2000, each copy strikingly packaged between two slabs of slate, Early Man became Roach's first major release of 2001 in an expanded two-disc format. The second disc consists of a "decomposed" version of the first, revisiting that material with an ear to more evanescent, mysterious ends, while the full release as a whole deserves note for its artwork, fusing prehistory with technology. As a whole, Early Man is Roach's sonic portrait of a distant ancestor -- to quote his own words, "one lone wandering early man" -- and the titles of the songs, as well as their respective energies, capture elements of this figure's life. Roach's abilities to create deep, moving electronic/acoustic compositions light years from the bathos of new age banality have long been clear, but Early Man not merely reconfirms this, it makes it paramount. The sheer depth of detail on both discs is both an audiophilic delight and an artistic triumph. The constantly evolving collage of sounds -- introducing new rhythms and sonic flow, suddenly stopping and starting when least expected, the use of echo as an instrument -- makes for fascinating listening. The title track, at nearly 30 minutes the longest individual piece on both discs, is a slow, entrancing number initially revolving around a gentle, skittering rhythm and central guitar/keyboard melody before simultaneously stripping back part of that while introducing new instruments and themes. The decomposed second disc pitches itself toward dark ambience more than once, with electronic distortion and near-empty arrangements setting the low, murky tone at many points. Past collaborator Vir Unis adds an abstract rhythm to "Walking Upright" -- otherwise this is Roach on his own, again achieving a unique, gripping style of grace and mood in a genre too many easily dismiss.
Steve Roach - Early Man (flac 318mb)
101 Early Dawn 11:58
102 Early Man 25:28
103 Begins Looking Skyward 6:33
104 Walking Upright 11:28
105 Hunting & Gathering 12:33
106 Flow Stone 5:42
Steve Roach - Early Man (ogg 155mb)
Steve Roach - Early Man Decomposed (flac 252mb)
201 Slow Dissolve 6:33
202 Walking Upright II 8:49
203 Fossil And Fern 9:49
204 Mastodon 4:58
205 Elemental 11:33
206 Late Dawn 10:39
207 Timeline 5:38
208 Carbondate 7:56
209 Below Always 4:30
Steve Roach - Early Man Decomposed (ogg 143mb)
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Blood Machine is the second excellent release that the Steve Roach/Vir Unis relationship has yielded, the first being Body Electric that came out in 1999 on the Projekt label. Prior to that, Roach and Vir Unis had worked on a variety of compilations and other smaller projects, but none of that work led to the new sound that they've achieved with Blood Machine. While Blood Machine is comparable to Body Electric, it really consists of a different, more fevered dynamic. Blood Machine starts with "Dissolving the Code," which evolves from a very calm and very Roach-esque synth pad fade into a wild and spastic rhythmic scheme that pulls the listener into the second track, "Evolution," only to be bombarded once more with the sound of percussion that seems to be dancing in the speakers from left to right and right to left. This seems to be the overall pattern with this record. The listener is teased into the track by Roach and Vir Unis' lush atmospherics and, once in, the track shifts back to the heavily rhythmic sequences and then back to the atmospherics. The tracks that comprise Blood Machine segue beautifully into one another, thus creating a long-running, almost cinematic escapade into a sound world that is completely fresh in dynamics and timbre. Blood Machine is quite a departure from both Roach's and Vir Unis' work of late, but undoubtedly this is one of the freshest recordings of 2001.
Steve Roach, Vir Unis - Blood Machine (flac 420mb)
01 Dissolving The Code 7:28
02 Evolution 11:38
03 Impulse 10:07
04 Neurotropic 6:23
05 Mindheart Infusion 12:20
06 Sense 7:57
07 Neural Connection 12:07
08 In The Marrow 5:15
Steve Roach, Vir Unis - Blood Machine (ogg 191mb)
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