top of page
  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

STEVE ROACH: Dreamtime Return (1988-2005)

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

“Dreamtime Return is a splendid tapestry of soundscapes of an Australian world that Steve Roach puts in music so that our eyes see what our ears hear”

CD 1 1 Towards the Dream 7:09 2 The Continent 4:47 3 Songline 3:01 4 Airtribe meets the Dream Ghost 7:07 5 A Circular Ceremony 11:18 6 The Other Side 13:11 7 Magnificent Gallery 6:02 8 Truth in Passing 8:49 9 Australian Dawn-The Quiet Earth Cries Inside 6:17 CD 2

1 Looking for Safety 31:17 2 Through a Strong Eye 6:50

3 The Ancient Day 6:07 4 Red Twilight with the Old Ones 9:50 Fortuna Records 18055-2 (1988)

Projekt ‎| PROJEKT175 (2016)

(CD/DDL 130:23) (V.F.) (Tribal ambient music)

Then at the top of list of the emergent artists who fed musical landscapes with an infinite precision, Steve Roach delivered in DREAMTIME RETURN the album which was going to define the borders of the ambient tribal EM. Conceived in 1988, either just after the musical journey in the American West which resulted in Western Spaces, this Steve Roach's double album is always considered as being his ultimate work. As being this passage of EM towards the universe of tribal ambient rhythms. It's on the heels of Western Spaces, fragrances can be heard on track 2, that this surprising album, which figures on the prestigious list of 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, was going to shake the columns of the so said ambient music with some fascinating aboriginal rhythms and chants. As well as a fascinating fusion between instruments, I think among others of Didgeridoo, of the first peoples of Australia. To be very close to this music, which asks all the same for a good open-minded, Steve Roach moved his things into the North of Australia together with the photographer David Stahl who was initiated this project. Him who was completely enchanted by the music of Structures from Silence while he passed by the American desert to go to Mexico.

Towards the Dream begins DREAMTIME RETURN with a movement of percussions magnificently drawn by Taos drums and electronic percussions. An organic matter infiltrates this movement of spiritual trance of which the accentuated pace rolls in loops while being shaken by some rollings of percussions a little more intense. This superb pattern of percussions stays under the influence of wide synth layers which spread orchestral and spectral harmonies. This canon start appears among the best introductions of Steve Roach's albums. The Continent, which seems to be a lost title from the sessions of Western Spaces, follows with a softer rhythm which is sculpted by more hypnotic and hefty percussions. The American synthesist spreads luxurious synth layers of which the harmonious approach remains as much seducing as its anesthetic effect, especially when the orchestral side gets melt to layers perfumed of discreet elfin voices. First title to be modelled on the Australian tribal approach, Songline is a hymn of aboriginal dance, which reminds me the universe of Vangelis in La Fête Sauvage, with effects and Didge on a furious structure which gets blurred with the arrival of Airtribe meets the Dream Ghost and of its tribal ambient rhythm. The percussions are scattered in an approach of hypnosis while the rattlers of a wizard sing in an ambience of a hostile desert which is slowly wrapped by the coldness of the night. These last two titles are composed in collabrations with Robert Rich who also plays gourd drums. As the titles parade on CD 1, we feel that the rhythms become under the influence of the Australian heathen divinities. So, A Circular Ceremony presents a soft rhythm with tired percussions which just have just enough strength to crumble a little more some authoritarian strikes under the aegis of other synth layers which harmonizes its anesthetic influence with very beautiful effects of voices. We dive literally in ambient mode with the stunning The Other Side, a title recorded live with Kevin Braheny who also plays this surprising instrument, Steiner EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument). He forges effects of a weeping violin which spreads a concerto for tortured souls. Flavors of the East are dragging in the big winged and soporous movements of a synth which surprises the ear with rivulets of arpeggios which glitter in suspension. Magnificent Gallery brings us back to the mysteries of the Australian grottos with another movement ambient structured by these sleepy wings of the synth. Truth in Passing is another small jewel of meditation which is harmonized on the notes of a very melancholic piano. That's have to be first time that I hear some piano in the music of Steve Roach. Australian Dawn-The Quiet Earth Cries Inside ends this CD 1 with an approach as dark as that of Magnificent Gallery.

Looking for Safety