STEVE ROACH & BRIAN PARNHAM: The Desert Inbetween (2011)
Updated: Oct 1
“Inhabited by a great sound fauna where the spirits of desert roam in an astonishing musicality...”
1 Opening Sky 11:03
2 Ancestral Passage 9:19
3 Serpent Gulch 11:11
4 Somewhere Between 7:13
5 Spirit Passage 4:14
6 Return to the Underground 17:14
7 Where the Raven Flies 6:31
(CD/DDL 66:51) (V.F.)
(Tribal Ambient, Pacific School)
THE DESERT IN BETWEEN is the second collaboration Brian Parnham and Steve Roach. After Mantle, made in 2007, the 2 American artists have pursued their quests of spiritual and tribal music until they found the time to produce an astonishing mystical album where their inspirations float like eagles above an arid and spectral tribal universe. The music is activated by unusual rhythms which are shaped by superb Native American tribal percussions and by an astonishing organic sound fauna such as rattlesnakes' bells, tingling of metallic centipedes and the cries of Aeolus with a thousand dimensions generated by the synths and especially by a Didgeridoo sometimes sober and sometimes furious. An ethnic rhythmic world that jostles with more ambient and atmospheric tangents, creating a perfect mix of the two genres in a tribal musical envelope that is only found in the moods of Steve Roach and his musical community.
A long and twisted reverberation opens Opening Sky. Slow morphic layers join this floating and twisted line where guttural breaths crisscross a movement that borrows an ascending and poignant tangent, both in emotions and in rhythms. Native American host this impression with tribal percussions piercing with difficulty a heavy cloud of synth breaths in order to shape this mystical musical incantation. The movement reaches its emotional climax with a sharp movement. Layers of ethereal guitars break away and float above the strangely pulsating rhythm. An increasing tempo, both sensual and bewitching, which is feed of tribal percussions, rattlesnakes and the breaths of an enchanting Didgeridoo that accompany the dreamy floating waves of the six-string to Steve Roach in an ethnic world. Ancestral Passage somewhat follows the line drawn by Opening Sky with fine percussions, hoarse reverberations and spectral whispers that accompany the ethereal layers of a solitary guitar. At mid-point, this delicate rhythm stops to embrace an atonic phase where thunders, cavernous breaths and a multitude of rattlesnake sounds intertwine in a morphic calm, disturbed by elements of a hybrid nature. Serpent Gulch begins with oblong dark breaths that wrap around an imaginary line while frantic percussions re-initiate a semi-trance rhythm constantly flown over by sinuous reverberations of an astonishing Didgeridoo whose breaths are impregnated with astonishing sounds of mermaids. The strange musical universe of Roach expands and invades the waves and rhythms of Serpent Gulch which gradually engulfs itself in the hoarse breaths of an arid land, riddled with mystical caves.
Breaths which also find refuge in the introduction of Somewhere Between which takes on a rather particular character with its bells and rattlesnakes resounding everywhere, while percussions mold a rhythm without life but imbued with a spiritual tribal approach. A captivating track, both for its slow tempo and for the strange tones that flow from it, just like Spirit Passage and its spectral voices whispering under the layers of a guitar that abandons its lamentations in the furrows of a desert steeped in ancestral memories. Return To The Underground is a long ambient track with atmospheres that are at the crossroads of the Immersion series and Quiet Music and Structure from Silence albums. The morphic synth layers intertwine in the heavy reverberations of the Didgeridoo, creating a strange fusion of an abstract but lively rhythm and its slow impulses which evolve in a cavernous and deeply dark atmosphere. When The Raven Flies concludes the album with the same soft caresses of sweet electronic winds. Slow, the movement floats from its layers of guitars which intertwine with synth breaths and Didgeridoo, while fine percussions continue to lull the rhythm to leave the specters of the desert in peace.
Inhabited by a superb sound fauna where the spirits of the desert roam in an astonishing musicality, THE DESERT IN BETWEEN is on the scale of Steve Roach's albums. It's an album tortured between rhythms and ambiences, just like the emotions inhabiting us and which are also the prerogative of the spiritualities of the American synthesist who is very well supported by a Brian Parnham astonishingly mature and confident since his very first work, Between Here and There in 2005. A flagship work from which the musical foundations and spiritual development will lead to the splendid emotions and musicality that we will find on the excellent The Road Eternal and Live at SoundQuest Fest.
Sylvain Lupari (August 23rd, 2011) *****
Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp