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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Steve Roach Electron Birth (2018)

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

“That's got to be a wonderful trip in time where Traveler and Empetus were going to guide the destinies of Dreamtime Return, of the Electron Birth”

1 Electron Birth 54:49 2 Cloud Currents 12:14

Timeroom Editions ‎– TM45

(CD/DDL 67:03) (V.F.)

(Sequencer-based Pacific School)

While he was giving his concert to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dreamtime Return, Steve Roach also performed nearly an hour of additional music in front of his fans. ELECTRON BIRTH is the result of this overflow of creativity from the leader of the Pacific School. Empetus and Stormwarning were monuments of rhythms driven by crazy sequencers. Subsequently, Steve Roach scattered his few sequencer-based style opuses in his impressive discography. I think of Life Sequence, Storm Surge: Live at NEARfest, Proof Positive and a few others that I could forget. But in recent years, the American musician-synthesist surprised us by reintroducing works pushed by sequencers, sometimes soft sometimes ambient and sometimes violent as with Skeleton Keys, Live in Tucson: Pinnacle Moments and some segments in albums such as Spiral Revelation or Emotion Revealed. But nothing like in here. In this last monument of rhythm pushed by a sequencer in madness; ELECTRON BIRTH. Except that this time, the title track of Electron Birth propels us in the main axes of Empetus and Stormwarning, at this time when Steve Roach could compete hand high with the masters of the genre of the Berlin School style.

The synth wave has just risen that already is swarming a feverish rhythmic membrane sculpted by a sequencer and a furious oscillating line of bass sequences whose keen dancing chords succeed each other at such a speed that we think to hear two lines. Already a little subtlety in this rhythmic decor catches the movement which presents a continuous flow of lively chords where some are struggling to follow this furious linear dance. Other sequences and other lines of sequences get grafted here, structuring a rare mosaic of multi sequenced lines which interact with the different flows and/or slightly modified cadences. And those who think about this furious rhythmic flow that ended Poland with the Horizon finale, that's exactly what Electron Birth is made of. Except here, the flow is sustained throughout its 55 minutes. Quieter moments are in 2 or 3 places, except that the rhythm remains nervously floating with chords which sizzle or flicker on the spot, waiting for the docking of another rhythm structure. The rhythmic multi layers of Electron Birth are carved in a minimalist vision whose snags, stumbling chords or yet another exit of the rhythmic highway mitigates a rate that will be vivified again a few oscillating loops further. This tapestry of incessant rhythms flows with such fluidity in its changes of direction that even the more ambient phases fly like dragonfly wings in the eye of a living kaleidoscope. This giant minimalist skeleton doesn't generate any moment of weariness or boredom since Steve Roach adjusts the pace after brief encounters with more morphic synths, like the 24th to the 27th minute when Electron Birth takes a more organic texture in a cadence reoriented towards a clanic trance spirit to burn the soles of the feet. A pure genius track that must end one of these days and it's done smoothly from the 50th minute when the last beats of the sequencer are dying in these anesthetic synth layers unique to the signature of Steve Roach. And it's a bit what is Cloud Currents; a long breeze of ambient elements which clings to the last shivers of Electron Birth in order to explore another level where Roach excels. Be the music of ambiences, with a nice intensity in its first 8 minutes where layers of synths scream to the moon before offering their sweetness by a symphony of cavernous breezes.

We must remember this 30th anniversary of Dreamtime Return, because Steve Roach has put us the ears full with two opuses of an EM in tune with all our greediness and our expectations. Even those that some didn't expect any more, like this ELECTRON BIRTH and especially of its title-track. A trip back in time, in these beautiful years where Traveler and Empetus were going to guide the destinies of Dreamtime Return. Memorable!

Sylvain Lupari (August 22nd, 2018) *****

Available on Steve Roach Bandcamp

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