ROACH & METCALF: Tales from the Ultra Tribe (2013)
Updated: Mar 5
“This album sits on a wonderful meshing of sequenced, electronic and acoustic percussions covered by nice and warm elfic synth pads”
1 Setting Forth 13:53
2 A Noble Direction 9:52
3 Midnight Migration 11:04
4 The Magma Clan 9:37
5 Road from Here 8:24
6 Fire Sky Portal 4:13
7 Return of the Dragon Bone Tribe 10:40
8 In the Safety of Travel 6:11
(CD 73:59) (V.F.)
We hear jingles trimming the wan synth layers which open Setting Forth. Sinuous, and very translucent, the layers of synths and the breaths of gargoyles counter-attack the weight of the percussions which increase the crescendo without kindling the rhythm. And there, there are percussions which breathe. Like the pulsations of an alien, these percussions complete the impressive meshing of the kegs and skins that forge Steve Roach and Byron Metcalf. The power of the music! Welcome in the surrealist universe of TALES FROM THE ULTRA TRIBE. A universe where the acoustic skins compete with those electronics under a musical sky darkened by some layers in colors that only Steve Roach can imagine. This album is the 2nd collaboration between Roach and Metcalf, the other one being The Serpent's Lair in 2000, and it's an album as surprising as refreshing where the music feeds on the sounds of two architects to the antipodes gathered under the fires of the esotericism.
Having reached its cruising speed, the rhythm of Setting Forth lives on these sucker kind of pulsations where is hanging a heap of percussions which bubble up with its tones as diverse as heterogeneous. Steve Roach frees his winds which blow such as scraped breezes on an earth to anfractuous reliefs. That's exhilarating and our ears are eagerly waiting of the slightest suspicion of distraction, the slightest detail which whips up both hemispheres. And there are. It's the strength of TALES FROM THE ULTRA TRIBE; combine ambiances and rhythms of shaman trance without ever gone off the rails in the emptiness, in the abstract of passive atmospheres. Certainly, there are soft rhythms and ethereal ambiences (Fire Sky Portal and In the Safety of Travel). But I would say more that these are soft atmospheres, because the percussions liven up constantly the fire of our interest. With its floating, but melodiously soporific, synth layers, A Noble Direction fights against the lunar sweetnesses of Roach. The rhythm is constantly fattened by the strikings of Metcalf in this fascinating fight between the synthetism of the keyboards and the acoustics of the percussions of which the echoes breathe steel. And we move forward from delights to delights with these 8 tracks which stick in a mosaic of 74 minutes. After the passive rhythm of A Noble Direction, Midnight Migration melts in the ear like a kind of groove for zombies. A track which is going to please to the fans of Klaus Schulze, Midnight Migration waves under the winds of oracles, the shamanic gurgling and the serpentines of synths which scribble a dark atmosphere. The percussions are magnetic and their surgical strikes attract the awakening towards spiritual trances where shoulders roll but feet remain anchored well in our cerebral hypnotism. And it's one of the uncountable charms of TALES FROM THE ULTRA TRIBE; the duality between synths sculptors of sleep and the percussions smiths of trance, as in the very wrapping The Magma Clan where the breaths of spectres have no influence on the alive percussions of Metclaf.
With its wild rhythm, Road from Here brings us on the other side of the album where we run after our breath under the loops of the lassoes which blow above our heads. The rhythm is delirious and rolls on percussions; one would say tens of hands which knock in accord, whose strikings multiply ceaselessly under the aegis of a synth and of its elfic harmonies. The heart doesn't follow the storm and takes refuge beneath enveloping and soothing strata that a synth releases at around the 6th minute, waking the anger of the tom-toms gods who roll their kegs, the sound avenging. The finale kisses some aftermaths of Setting Forth while we stumble into the very ambiospherical Fire Sky Portal and of its organic fauna, there where live beings that only the imagination can create. This fauna dissolves into the alive percussions of Return of the Dragon Bone Tribe of which the title embellishes with images marvellously its contents. The rhythm is ambient and the ambiences are organic. The percussions breathe of a life of stridulation, mixing the clanic percussions with the noises of the swamps of deserts. And we let ourselves being charmed by this absent rhythm which breathes, while that quietly we are invaded by the soothing of In the Safety of Travel.
Percussions, percussions and percussions! The universe of TALES FROM THE ULTRA TRIBE sits above those. You have to see the list of percussions and of their adjoining noises that Metcalf and Roach are firing with a disconcerting dexterity. And these percussions breathe of a strange life of parallel rhythms where the contradictions are attracted in the shade of synths which remind us constantly the universes of Dreamtime Return, Proof Positive or yet Fever Dreams. A beautiful album from Steve Roach and Byron Metcalf which will know how to bewitch you for sure.
Sylvain Lupari (June 22nd, 2013) *****
Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp