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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ROACH, METCALF & THOMAS: Monuments of Ecstasy (2015)

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

Monuments of Ecstasy is of an incredible sound wealth that will challenge the limits of your imagination

1 Archaic Layers 11:29 

2 Monuments of Trance 16:31 

3 Primal Analog 9:20 

4 Molecules of Momentum 9:05 

5 Monuments of Ecstasy 15:08 

6 This Place on Earth 4:36

(CD/DDL 66:07) (V.F.)

(A mix of ambient and frantic tribal EM)

Ambient tribal!? Everything but ambient! Even if at times the rhythms are a little less frantic. This latest Roach & Metcalf collaboration, this time with the contribution of a master of strange shamanic voices in the person of Rob Thomas, is of and incredible sound wealth with an impressive percussions' game, both acoustic and electronic, which cement more than 60 minutes of soundscapes that will challenge the limits of your imagination. The percussions thunder, hammer, plow and tumble into structures of rhythms, both semi-ambient and frenetic, which proudly display the scope of a track such as Monuments of Ecstasy. Electronic and tribal effects enrich structures that I would describe more floating than ambient. And nirvana is undoubtedly the superb title-track which shows beyond any doubt that EM remains very good, even outside its comfort zone. Once again, the worlds of Steve Roach and Byron Metcalf shine of magic. With Rob Thomas, they take us to a world where enchantment takes on all its meaning.

A long drone perfumes the more or less astral introduction of Archaic Layers. Wooshh, wiishh and waashh abound. They whistle while forming oblong astral lassos while very slowly the awakening of the percussions will feed the implacable structure of the frantic tribal rhythms which will whip almost the whole of MONUMENTS IN ECSTASY. Imagine 6 hands striking different skins and you have the color of the rhythms that are blowing with the dancing spirits of this last effort offered by the trio Roach, Metcalf and Thomas. The ruminations of the Didge and the synth lines of Roach adorn this furious rhythm which ends up calming down a little after the 7-minute mark to plunge into slightly more meditative atmospheres. These minutes, as well as This Place on Earth and the intro/outros will be the only ambient phases of an album which can only seduce, as much by the force of its rhythms as by the union of an impressive canvas of tribal percussions. Monuments of Trance starts slowly. Transported by the wave breezes of the Didge, it offers a tribal / ambient rhythm with heavy percussions which captivate both the listening and the senses. The effect in a room is totally pervasive. The rhythm remains linear, minimalist. But there is so much rattling, nuances in the strikes and in the charms of the guttural buzzing that you can't see the 16 minutes passing by. Very impressive! Especially the furious spasmodic rhythm of the finale which brings us to another level of spiritual trance. Primal Analog hops from ear to ear with a tasty electronic approach. The modular synth weaves superb oscillations which undulate with the breaths of Didge and some organic tones, while the percussions, rather sober, and the steel wings of cymbals forge a delicious ambient rhythm which magnetizes the listener. Molecules of Momentum leaves the land of Monuments of Trance. The rhythm is however less dark with a subtle shift effect which makes it feel a little more furious. The electronic effects are just well enough inserted while the shamanic whispers constantly pique the curiosity of the ears. The approach even touches an African jungle atmosphere with both organic and animal tones. A beautiful mixture that is cementing more and more as Molecules of Momentum explores a clearly more frantic structure in the second part. This effect of immersion in hostile territories is much more palpable in the good Monuments of Ecstasy. Between electronics and tribal, the title-track is a pure moment of enchantment. The percussion rolls an ambient rhythm from which emerges a fascinating organic flora while the synth throws a huge canvas of sleeping mist and takes good care to accommodate an invasive melody. A superb electronic melody, invisible and magical! It could last for hours, you know the Roach universe, it would always be magic! Just like this impressive album which will join a line of small masterpieces of tribal ambient music which connects so well to the Steve Roach universe.

Sylvain Lupari (January 24th, 2015) ****½*

Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp

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