STEVE ROACH At the Edge of Everything (CD on Timeroom Editions)
This CD from 2014 features 74 minutes of dreamy electronic music recorded live at the E-Live Festival in the Netherlands on September 10,2000.
Roach (who plays analog and digital synthesizers and sampler, drum machine, didgeridoo, processed voice, harmonica, hand percussion, and looping) is joined onstage by: vidnaObmana (on Fujara-overtone flute, hand percussion, and voice) and Jeffrey Fayman (on frame drum).
The performance begins with electronics that emerge gradually, formulating into patterns that are soon accompanied by peppy e-perc rhythms that establish an entrancing groove. Didgeridoo moans breathe into play, lending an eerie tinge to the flow. Auxiliary beats slide into play, enriching the tempo with a fluid complexity. Whispery shakers rattle in the distance. The melodic tones stream into an undulating vista.
Everything progresses into a subdued passage, out of which tribal patterings emerge replete with haunting pulsations. Additional oscillations embellish the music, lending it an spectral touch as it starts to fade—but refuses to descend into silence. Instead, the tune shakes off its lethargy and with a shuddering rebirth flourishes into a resurgence of tender vapors.
Blooping beats usher in a dose of somewhat hyperactive rhythms of a charged synthetic character. These tempos reverberate amidst wilderness sounds, combining astral and earthly venues. A sampling of otherworldly sounds rise from this bouncy pool, unfurling cycles of a vibrant nature.
The next section employs more strident percussion, still soft but exhibiting a subdued gutsy quality that manages to surge and establish a demonstrative presence. Flute enters the mix, its breathy whispers acting like an insistent bird fluttering around the tempos. Didgeridoo lends a trancey edge to the flow as the beats cease; the recurrent flute grounds this ghostly flavor with its own haunting resonance. Tribal chants begin, carrying the music into ancestral territory. A serene passage follows, replete with moody texturals. This eventually gives way to a resurgence of tribal sentiments with primitive beats and sighing vocal effects with an undercurrent of gentle electronics.
A rhythmic passage ensues, soon punctuated by urgent didgeridoo, raspy flute and subtle electronics hints of a watery nature.
The performance winds to a close with the various instruments reprising their tranquil aspects amid sighing electronic tonalities, all designed to return the audience to the mortal realm.
While generally soft and soothing, this music does possess infectious traces of pep.
STEVE ROACH Spiral Meditations (CD on Timeroom Editions)
This CD from 2014 features 70 minutes of slightly energized ambient music.
Languid electronics conspire with luxurious texturals to achieve soothing vistas of temperate ambience.
Expansive tonalities generate atmospheric realms crafted to approximate vaporous regions residing just beyond the listener's focus of attention, These auralscapes establish harmonic flows of delicate oscillations.
Additional electronics contribute a touch of melodic structure to those flows, enhancing the auralscape with hints of cyclic resonance. These cycles produce a mesmerizing effect with their seemingly unchanging loops, but changes do exist, they are just paced at a slow velocity, too subtle for the conscious mind to identify. There are, however, passages in which the riffs unfold at a more discernable rate; these stretches achieve a character far above the placid nature of simple ambience.
There are some percussives, but they are expertly sublimated, immersed in the mix. Certain other sounds serve as a rhythmic presence, but none of them can be considered as percussives. These "beats" are achieved through the application of non-impact electronics, manifesting as bloops or slushes set to create the illusion of tempos buried within the rolling soundscape.
These compositions are carefully crafted to tickle the listener's subconscious perceptions with their gradually evolving melodies. While the main gist of the tuneage lies in generating a meditative state, a degree of pep exists among the melodies, just enough of an oomph to elevate the music from a passive drone but not enough to tumble the songs into an intrusive presence.
STEVE ROACH & KELLY DAVID The Long Night (CD on Projekt )
This release from 2013 features 61 minutes of nocturnal ambient music.
Ambient electronics with a nocturnal touch—not "dark," but the type of tuneage that evokes a peaceful evening.
Luxurious texturals unfurl and stretch into soothing cloudscapes. Additional electronics of a gentle character embellish this foundation with their soft pulsations.
Some of the electronics have a rattling edge to them, almost insectoid, but more creaky than chittering. These sound creep in and out of the mix, enhancing the flow with their eerie presence.
Woodwinds (mostly ethereal flutes and breathy didgeridoo) contribute a whisper of air movement, enough to stir the edges of the listener's mind with their lazy resonance.
Some percussives are employed, but nothing overt or pounding. Gentle rhythms pitter just beyond one's peripheral hearing, injecting tempos as sinuous as the fluid auralscapes they swim amongst. While Roach's music often utilizes rhythms of a tribal nature, these beats are different, whispery and haunting, but evoking nothing of any campfire or shamanistic gathering.
As previously mentioned, there's nothing dark or ominous about this music. Instead, the emphasis is on capturing a mood of serene twilight...the enduring calm that settles after sunset, a sky filled with twinkling stars scattered across a tapestry of ebony velvet, the pleasant chill carried by nocturnal breezes, the tranquility that reigns by night, a peace that seems to be an environment onto itself. These lucid electronics excellently capture these sentiments, conveying the listener to a realm devoid of light but rich in enlightenment.
STEVE ROACH The Delicate Forever (CD on Projekt)
This CD from 2014 offers 74 minutes of gentle ambience.
Extremely minimal electronics create lavish ambient soundscapes.
Textural vistas are generated and left to run, slowly evolving, while auxiliary tones are layered to establish a delicate density. These auxiliary tones are equally soft and unintrusive, as in one instance the secondary texture is a synthetic cello sigh that soothingly pulsates...or on another occasion, the auxiliary embellishment loops through a sparkling chord sequence.
Keyboards punctuate the flow, sometimes as solitary notes that serve as twinkling bursts in the gentle pastiche, other times the keyboard chords are sustained and stretched into luxurious vistas that function as additional aural threads amid the vaporous flow.
Toward the end of this seamlessly interwoven album, a reverent flair enters the mix with the keys adopting an almost cathedral temperament.
These compositions manifest as elongated structures in which things change at a very gradual pace, often too subtle for the average listener to discern; but these changes do occur, slowly, making their evolution more subconscious than overt. That subconscious is Roach's actual target audience; his music is tailored to creep past your awareness and affect your cerebral condition, sedating and relaxing you, releasing your mind to a passive condition and allow your thoughts to undergo stream of consciousness associations. Or—in more conventional terms: this music is perfect for meditation.
The first 300 copies of this CD come with a bonus disc, The Delicate Beyond which contains a mega-elongated version of the title track.
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