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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

STEVE ROACH: Arc of Passion (2008)

Updated: Feb 12, 2022

This CD combines all the ingredients that have characterized Steve Roach's albums

CD 1 (50:42)

1 Moment of Grace 19:05

2 Arc of Passion 31:36

CD 2 (50:13)

1 Arc of Passion (suite) 28:44

2 Views Beyond 21:29

(CD/DDL 100:55) (V.F.)

(Ambient & Sequencer-based EM)

Recorded live during an intimate session at the Timeroon Studios, ARC OF PASSION reflects the emotions that tormented Steve Roach during his 2007 concert series. A very intimate double album where the Californian synthesist moves the strings of our imagination and emotions.

A heavy spectral wave grows on mellotron layers. Moment of Grace moves gently, like a cloud of silk that melts itself in the whims of a wind blown by melancholic surges. One closes one's eyes and easily imagines the mutation of this silk on soft and ample sound arcs of which the heavy buzzes freeze in the scintillating spirals with celestial harmonies. Atonal and very orchestral Roach who modulates the 19 minutes of this ambient phase while extending its emotions on a poetic slowness until the first nervous sequences of the title-track. Epic title of more than one hour, Arc of Passion is a real tour de force of a progressive minimalism art. Gradually freeing itself from the orchestral and atonal imprints of Moment of Grace, the opening of this 1st part of Arc of Passion flows smoothly towards scintillating sequences girded by a fine bass line. The rhythmic structure is still anchored to the spectral waves, except that the sequences get more and more agitated in an exponential sound atmosphere. Sequenced analog percussions, syncopated minimalistic chords, sequences blooming over others in evolution and an increasingly biting bass line, Arc of Passion releases a rhythmic fauna of an astonishing richness. The rhythm is constantly evolving and clings to tight strata with menacing drones. Its atmospheric layers come and go in a compact structure that swirls around a multitude of surrounding sequences that swirl over sequenced percussions and a bass that bites into every windy thrust within ear shot. A superb track that demonstrates the rhythmic ability of well-structured electronic music (EM). Honestly, this is one of Roach's good tracks and a track that every analog EM fan must listen to. Simply splendid!

Of course, such a rhythmic dynamism can't be justified in a different way without redundancies for more than 60 minutes. It's thus 10 minutes before its finale that Arc of Passion quietly calms down to embrace the arid breezes of Views Beyond. As much Moment of Grace was soft and inviting, Views Beyond is its opposite. A metallic and hostile breath guides us to the first buzzing zones of a dark territory where spectral wanderings and ghostly choirs take the shape of the disturbing curves of a synth tetanized by its dissonant strata. Driven by the raucous breaths of a synth with long tribal horns, Views Beyond embraces the fright of a deserted and icy land with a strange serenity that only Steve Roach can imagine and interpret.

ARC OF PASSION combines all the ingredients that have characterized Steve Roach's albums since Now/Traveller. There is warm and poetic ambient music, Zen and meditative music, as well as dark music animated by the specter of the Amerindian deserts' demons, as well as an energetic and devilishly sequenced EM worthy of Stormwarning, the reference in sequenced analog EM. A great Roach that never ceases to seduce and amaze.

Sylvain Lupari (March 8th, 2008) ****½*

Available at Projekt Records

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