Apr 12, 2020

Sundaze 2015


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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That electro-acoustic composer Steve Roach would consider revisiting his early analogue synthesizer work and reshaping it for release is an interesting concept. Looking back for the purpose of rediscovery is always a calculated risk. Roach has been in the depths of atmospheric pieces for a long while now, pushing further and further on the artificial Cartesian boundary that separates emptiness from form. To revisit the notion of form from his current perspective is to see it in a different way, as an attempt to free oneself of the same boundary by engaging it as the thing itself. Many of these pieces are a decade-and-a-half old at least, and offer hints of what was to come, to be sure. But the poetic is in the work itself. These modalities, when applied to the shorter pieces, offer a glimpse of the terrain where the pulse is constant; it always looks for pathways of transition and transformation. Where his evolved musical self is grafted on to the earlier constructs, swathes of sound are cut from the heart of silence and layered through -- not on top of -- the earlier pieces, and the listener can experience the tautness of sonic and atmospheric evolution from process to result. "Sundial" and "Sands of Time," two hinge pieces in this set, are more recent. They are collaborations with electronics artist Paul Ellis and came from rehearsals for a joint concert. Despite the innovations of technology, Roach sticks to his guns and looks to grow the pulse out, to wind it around on itself and reach in as a form of getting "out there" -- where the serpent swallows its own tail and keeps going, only space remains and the trace of what existed before. In other words, in the shifting, winding, whirring marriage of ambience, rhythms, and melodic fragments pulled along a line that breaks and begins, something opens in the fissures to bridge not only past and present in Roach's evolutionary aesthetic as a musician, but also his interior use of space and non-space -- as in pulse and breath. Ultimately, Life Sequence is beautiful and soulful to be sure, but it is also quite remarkable.

Steve Roach - Life Sequence (flac 400mb)

01 Lightness Of Being 4:56
02 Living The Dream 16:56
03 Sundial 9:27
04 Sands Of Time 15:03
05 Destination Horizon 27:12

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Astonishingly, Fever Dreams is Steve Roach's 54th album since he commenced recording in 1979 (this does not count compilations). The word "prolific" here is hopelessly inadequate. And while it's true that Roach has a "sound," he doesn't repeat himself; he's always on the edge of some abyss or deep inside it, mapping out new psychic and sonic terrain. Fever Dreams, comprised of four long pieces, is the first part of a projected trilogy. Recorded at Roach's Timeroom Studio in the Arizona desert, it reflects the beginning of a new sound world journey, one with few signposts, where slowly evolving nocturnal grooves are articulated through washed-out keyboards, drifting loops, shakers, hand drums, hybrid percussion instruments, guitars, basses, and, of course, the expanse of inner space that comes from the very center of silence. Roach has enlisted the help of bassist Patrick O'Hearn on this project. O'Hearn's own records in the past have explored the notion of groove and pulse, as well as more spectral soundscapes, but he has never appeared in a setting like this one. Roach's reliance on the bass in these four elongated pieces is unprecedented in his own work. There are no funky popping lines or intricate runs here, though on "Fever Pulse" the throb of two overlapping, staggered basses and a direct percussive counterpoint become the muted if undeniable soul of the composition. The centerpiece of the album is "Tantra Mantra," which is nearly half an hour in length. Its groove is so subtle and blurry, and yet so insistent, that it's difficult to know at what point it has utterly taken over the listener's consciousness. It's sultry, steamy, and sexual in an archetypal way; it doesn't drift so much as wander in widening circles, from the body's pleasure center -- the mind -- outward to its sense perceptions and extremities. This is a music of pure, gently undulating writhe, where perception and feeling become one and the same. The album closes with "Moved Beyond," which seems to articulate the notion that what has come before on this set was a precursor to this new form of emptiness. Everything exists in this space; it's full and breathing, shimmering with bliss. Sound emanates from the shadows and returns there. The grooves offer direction, but they are impressions rather than road maps. If one attaches to the sound of a particular drum, one misses the others. Inside this abundant void is the blossoming not only of rhythm, whisper, and unidentifiable sonics, but their underside, as the organization of space according to a silence full of symbols, movements, and breaths that exist simultaneously inside and outside the music. Once again, Steve Roach has given listeners new vistas to encounter and to ponder, but this time, the sacred body -- both rainbow and physical -- is whispered to as well as the emotions and the mind. Fever Dreams is the sound of becoming suddenly awake, aware of what has transpired on a sub- or unconscious level, as if from a fever dream.

Steve Roach - Fever Dreams  (flac 330mb)

01 Wicked Dream 18:41
02 Fever Pulse 10:34
03 Tantra Mantra 29:36
04 Moved Beyond 14:30

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The difference between Fever Dreams I & II is huge. It still follows the same concept, but a lot of improvements has been made, the album also include dreamlike vocals by Jennifer Grais, I like the vocals , but I think I would personally prefer Mark Seelig instead. You can hear that Steve Roach has been working a lot more careful with the production on this album, every detail is now perfect unlike Fever Dreams  I, which did remind me more of an live recording.  Unlike for instance Mantram which slows down the time tremendously you will be amazed to see the ability Fever dreams II have to speed up time, I did listen to this CD in the bed yesterday night with zero environmental stimuli , and I was really surprised how fast these 72 minutes passed by. If you focus enough you will find it quite easy to get into a trance state of mind beyond time and space

Steve Roach - Holding the Space, Fever Dreams II (flac  391mb)

01 The Wounded Healer 9:20
02 Energy Well 7:17
03 Opening the Space 6:18
04 Heart's Core 8:53
05 Fires Burning 9:03
06 Metamorphic 9:59
07 Holding the Space 21:23

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From the first chord of "Perfect Dream" to the final fade of "In the Eye Of Noche", New Life Dreaming presents an unbroken feeling of connection to essential meditations found on Structures From Silence, Quiet Music and Dreamtime Return. All of these pieces were created during late 2004 and 2005. The process of remastering Dreamtime Return helped open the door into that timeless place found in Steve's most appreciated works. New Life Dreaming represents an essential chapter in the book of quiet, nourishing and graceful sound paintings.

"The desire to tap into the soundcurrent from which the Dreamtime music was drawn just seemed inevitable after the remastering process started in December of last year. It's a living, breathing, space for me which has continued to flow down deep over the years. As I re-opened the door to this dreamtime space, the creative urges and subtle cues to follow the trail deeper was immediately reinforced by several new pieces which feel directly connected to this indescribable quality. These new pieces just flowed out. There was no big agenda, concept or sense of obligation to make them feel like they belonged on the Dreamtime Return discs. All the pieces came from a calm space, just letting things breathe and not being in any hurry to go anywhere. Now that they are complete, I feel the pieces speak of the subtle blooms that occur in the heart and mind when you slow it all down."

Steve Roach - New Life Dreaming (flac 295mb)

01 Perfect Dream 15:52
02 Where I Live 14:42
03 The Ancients' Way 15:08
04 Deep Sky Time 9:13
05 In The Eye Of Noche 14:36

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1 comment:

T. S. said...

Dear Rho:

Hopefully we will see more of Steve Roach's albums in the future. I know you have already wrote about several of them, but I cannot get enough! He is a master! He is such a talented artist!

Thank you!