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Steve Roach: Fever Dreams 3

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Ambient pioneer Steve Roach has a long career of producing electronic music of remarkably delicate quality, whether he is playing dreamy soundscapes or engaging doses of contemporary EM.

The following release exemplifies both styles.

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STEVE ROACH: Fever Dreams 3 (double CD on Timeroom Editions)

This release from 2007 offers 144 minutes of moody electronic music.

While synthesist Roach plays analog and digital instruments, Parker Fly guitar, percussion and groove creation, he is joined on two tracks by Byron Metcalf who plays frame drum and udu.

Soothing tonalities provide a solid backdrop of ethereal substance for auxiliary electronics. Gentle waves ripple through these ambient soundscapes, mimicking atmospheric traits with pleasant accuracy.

Meanwhile, those auxiliary electronics gather stamina and verve, rising to season the placid mix with sultry vitality. Artificial vibrations are harnessed and delivered into rhythmic structure, ponging off each other with gradually accumulate cohesion. Melodies are generated that waft with luxurious mien as they convey a mounting essence that is primed to captivate and stir the listener's soul.

Guitar sustains establish haunting embellishment that is so astral as to often be indistinguishable from the vaporous electronics. The notes are elongated until they become thin strands of vibrant resonance that shimmer like a borealis hanging amid the delicate electronic fog.

The percussion is soft, muted and relegated to the background so as to approximate distance. While contributing rhythms of a sedate nature, the remote placement of these tempos enhances the music's overall expansive character, as if the instruments are positioned at far-flung corners of the somnambulant landscape, collaborating in separation to achieve a harmonic flow that defies proximity. The differences between near and far are exposed as illusions, revealing the coexistence of everything.

Not all the percussion resounds from far away, though. Some rhythms are decidedly proximate, although never overwhelmingly prominent. These tempos evoke a snappier flair that provides amiable locomotion to the music. They often curl around cosmic electronic expressions, creating a lush union that enhances all parts of the fusion. Frequently, non-impact sounds are rallied into pulsating cycles that establish rhythms of eerie disposition.

While generally pacific, this music is hardly restricted to meditative influences. A distinct pep is present, slowly emerging to flavor the ambience with livelier moods.

Long form accretion is utilized to afford each composition the opportunity to comfortably evolve and pursue delightful variations. This is especially applicable on the second disk, which features one vast composition ("Melted Mantra") that winds its way through diverse deviations with divine consequences.

This second disk features passages of darker demeanor, instilling a cognitive imperative to the music's otherwise contemplative frame of mind. Here, the percussion possesses more body, immersing the listener in a sea of gently stimulating rhythms. Tribal influences are merged with nondenominational spirituality, resulting in a tasty excursion to the depths of modern consciousness.

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