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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

STEVE ROACH: Back to Life (2012)

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

There is only Steve Roach for insufflate a musicality to musical forms printed by a rhythmic stillness

Disc One (73:39)

1 Where Rasa Lives 14:54

2 Cloud Cover 9:58

3 Tranquility Base 16:41

4 The Wonder of It All 6:59

5 Touchstones 4:07

6 Everything Inside 9:39

7 Back to Life 11:17

DVD (70:00)

1 Mist of Perception 70:00

(DDL/CD/DVD 143:39) (V.F.)

(Tribal Ambient)

Year after year the American label Projekt continues to support Steve Roach's crazy creative prolificacy with good albums which follow the intuitive curves of the synthesist hermit of the Californian deserts. Ambiences stigmatized within iridescent breaths and delicate rhythms which pulsate with the fear of evaporating these breezes as much lyric than tribal, BACK TO LIFE is a good album which presents the best of both atmospheric universes from Steve Roach.

It's with a mixture of earthly and lunar breaths that opens Where Rasa Lives. Like a resounding noise of an engine propelling an intergalactic vessel floating at low speed, the synth layers get agglutinate to form a dense and intense sound veil from where are escaping more crystal clear veins which shine in a thick magma of synth larva. The signature of Roach is perceptible with his synth layers which float and blend with this strange subjugation that the synthesist gives to his long movements of lyrical stillness while bright musical effects strew the slow and tortuous procession up until some muffled rhythms, initiated by fine tribal rattles at about the 10th minute. Rhythms which shake discreetly the morphic waltz of the stratified layers and which go out some 4 minutes later, leading Where Rasa Lives towards its hearth of contemplativity. The breezes of Cloud Cover are even more overwhelming. They build up like big black clouds and smother an eclectic musical fauna stuffed with droning elements. Unstable the movement dies down to embrace a phase of metallic humming, shifting the cold tranquility of Cloud Cover towards the warm spiritual rhythms of the soft poetic drums from Tranquility Base. This title is pure Roach with a rhythmic structure finely livened up by aboriginal tom-toms which structure a soporific and hallucinogenic trance that superb spectral strata cover of mesmerizing wandering hoots. The Wonder of It All and Touchstones bring us back into the tetanized universe of the introduction with layers filled by a fine taste of bluish metal which fly over a sluggish structure while the iridescent breaths of Everything Inside are warmer. Breaths which overflow towards the title-track and metamorphose into an immense pond of opaline waves whose silvery singings glide over the same rhythmic spasms which shook Where Rasa Lives, but over a longer period, looping the loop of BACK TO LIFE first CD. It's in an absolute peace of mind that Mist of Perception is taking place. This long title fed by synth strata which float like a mass of warm air is discreetly guided by muffled knockings of which the slightly arrhythmic pulsations are smothered by the discreet hummings of subterranean machinery. It's a long linear movement where the synth layers with silvery tones and galvanized hoops intertwine to form an opaque iron curtain. A veil of iron moving on a static rhythm which dies out with the patience of its long procession in the immersive fogs of the synths with tones as warm as oneiric.

There is only Steve Roach for insufflating a musicality to musical forms printed by a rhythmic stillness. BACK TO LIFE follows the long dark and ambient corridors of Dynamic Stillness and Sigh of Ages. It's an extremely meditative album where some fragments of rhythms which decorate the profound oneiric ambiences add a new dimension to the musical approaches dedicated to meditation. Tribal, atmospheric, ambient and cosmic; BACK TO LIFE is another milestone in Steve Roach's career which not only sculptures but also controls rhythms as much morphic and hypnotic which are superb complements to his dances of winds.

Sylvain Lupari (April 26th, 2012) ***½**

Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp

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