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Steve Roach's Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces

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For nearly two decades, Steve Roach has been a vanguard for the American ambient electronic movement.

After several releases in which Roach has explored more rhythmic compositions, he returns to his uber-ambient roots with this pair of double CDs.

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STEVE ROACH: Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces (Part 1) (double CD on Projekt). Also available from Timeroom Editions.

CD 1: Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces (74 minutes)

Assisting Roach's synthetic ambience on this disk is Kathryn Gunzinger on cello on one track.

Tenuous textures swim into view, approaching with stately grace from a distant horizon to hang overhead like an imaginary fog. This sonic mist undulates with utmost eloquence, unhurried yet shrewdly resolute. Atmospheric substance amasses with sneaky growth, densifying the cloud and seasoning the air with reverent passion. A sense of paranormal energy permeates these soundscapes, hinting that shamen are at work in their ancient caverns, weaving spells that will touch all humanity while remaining consciously undetectable by the Earth's population. Placid and serene, the minimal harmonies become a ghostly sonic influence that fuses with any environment, pacifying the surroundings and all who dwell within reach. Luscious electronic tones amalgamate with themselves, roiling with tranquil stamina to produce passages of elongated stability. The soundscapes are tantalizingly intangible, comparable to the state of being that exists between drowsiness and deep slumber.

There seems no end or beginning to this music, as if infinity has wrapped itself around the audience, immersing the world in a protective formula of amity.

CD 2: Labyrinth (74 minutes)

Roach's electronic ambience is assisted on one track on this disk by guitar effects provided by Filtered Sun.

The music on this disk approximates a subterranean voyage that ends up delving into the human psyche. At the onset, the audience is conveyed by remote "wrens and ravens" through a pleasant ballet of intermingling electronic tones to reach the underground portal. A passage of mounting anticipation ushers the listener from this tenuous "other world" into the languid awe of a "wonderworld" where the electronic textures adopt an air of fruitful potentials. Crossing a brief "threshold" of wispy consistency, the sonic voyagers are attributed a digital "dream body" that converts all stress and worries into a placid stretch of sighing clouds devoted to sedation. Properly prepared for the rest of the cerebral descent, the audience "slowly dissolves", becoming one with a harmonic tableau of infinite reach. Passing through a celestial "womb of night", you find yourself riding the ambient majesty of a transmogrifying "soulwave" of glistening viscosity that cleanses the mind of all earthly concerns, rendering the audience "wordless" with a soundscape of whirling tonal filigrees. At the cumlination of this sonic labyrinth, the listener emerges saturated with a "nameless" quality that imbues serenity and total awareness (inward and external) that is embellished by the aforementioned astral guitar, which acts like a dose of filtered sunlight waking the dreamer.

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STEVE ROACH: Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces (Part 2) (double CD on Projekt). Also available from Timeroom Editions.

CD 3: Recent Future (74 minutes)

Here, Roach is aided by "organic sample food" provided by VidnaObmana on the opening track.

Roach's even-tempered soundscape receives a rustling enhancement sourced from environmental samples, before sliding into yet deeper terrain consisting of nebulous cloudbanks of tranquil sonority. This dignified resonance transmutes the overall mood into ambient light, affording glimpses of prescience according to the depth of mesmerization achieved by the listener during this music. While the individual tracks flow seamlessly into each other, each composition delivers its own imaginary vision, as the thematic atmospherics are flavored by sublte treatments that infuse the drones with different characteristics. These variations are extremely faint but nonetheless suggestive, evoking fugitive memories buried deep in the audience's cognition and releasing such tenuous recollections for fresh scrutiny.

CD 4: Piece of Infinity (74 minutes)

All the sounds on this disk are generated and manipulated by Roach alone.

This disk features a single track, during which Roach explores the basic theme with greater minimalism and exacting subtlty. The soundscape emerges softly, rising gradually from silence to quasi-silence. The gentle electronic texture enters like a mellow breeze, wafting from near inaudibility to a hint of a whisper. This steady pulsation takes considerable time to accrete some substance, and even then the intonation remains stable and seemingly untouched by enhancement. Resolutely loyal to the track's title, the ambience stretches its sparse harmonics into infinity, as if simulating the background hum of the universe itself. Upon close examination, the variations become faintly evident: the hum adopts a soothing gurgle, wavering slightly to generate the illusion of a gentle wave rippling across the fabric of time. By the time the composition nears its conclusion, the sonic rendition has actually altered greatly, but those changes were accomplished so gradually as to be humanly undetectable.

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This pair of double CDs is also available as a four CD set from Projekt and Timeroom Editions.

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