STEVE ROACH & ERIK WOLLO: The Road Eternal (2011)
Updated: Mar 5, 2021
“This is a musical experience which rides long silent and nightly surges of synths and guitars as ambient as spectral on rhythms absent of sequences”
1 The Road Eternal 21:21
2 Depart at Sunrise 9:16
3 The Next Place 12:15
4 First Twilight 4:35
5 Travel by Moonlight 10:06
6 Night Strands 5:16
(CD/DDL 63:30) (V.F.)
(Experimental ambient music)
THE ROAD ETERNAL's beauty is its evolution and all the ramifications that its title-track spreads throughout this Steve Roach & Erik Wollo's second collaboration. If Stream of Thought was an album where the ambient reigned over some electronic structures, this one is all the opposite. It's a lively opus where both masters of sound illusions create rhythms and ambiences as spellbinding as perplexes on hypnotic minimalist structures where sequences are skilfully forged into wonderful layers of a synths and guitars fusion. It results into surprising rhythms where hooting melodies coming from guitars and synths laments are floating and swimming in cosmos, like celestial harmonies in contradiction with increasing rhythms. And when we pay attention and take a deeper listening we have the vague impression to hear a fusion of Structures from Silence and the album @shra from Manuel Göttsching's band. So be ready for something unexpected cause it's as much difficult to enter THE ROAD ETERNAL's ambiences as to get out of it. Review of a surprising album and another little masterpiece from our friend Steve Roach who, undoubtedly, continues to amaze and to charm.
The whole thing starts like if we were in cosmos, sat by the edge of a river which sparkles of gleaming arpeggios. Slender musical layers, from what seems to be a fusion synths and guitars, drive slow lamentations which are criss-crossing and floating lazily in a fanciful firmament where tranquility filled the space. The heavy, ambient and dramatic effect is not without recalling the vintage years of Ashra Temple. A rhythm is drawing in the background, but it's without sequences. There are nervous synth pads of which the jerky impulses are colliding, forming a chaotic rhythmic movement which skips nervously. This linear rhythmic line dined by jolts is simply brilliant. It pounds with a soft frenzy and rolls in loop like wavelets on a sea which wakes up. And the sea will wake up! Little by little this rhythm livens up with the adding of fine and subtle pulsations and percussions, while the sky becomes strewed by fine musical shooting stars which sparkle and fly like in the analog years of Klaus Schulze and that some slow astral layers are flying over The Road Eternal with delicate movements of wandering. It's an idyllic fusion that leads us halfway, there where guitars laments pierce this hatched rhythmic and the tempo becomes livelier. We are in deep in Steve Roach musical labyrinths with a suave and enchanting evolution which is finely wriggling with the addition of heterogeneous percussions and pulsations unique to his universe, whereas delicate morphic layers coming out of a synth /guitar fusion are suspended and undulate in contrast with this progressive cadence. The minimalist loops of the fragile rhythm of The Road Eternal hiccup on a quavering progression. Always so vaporous this rhythm breaks itself with a nervously syncopated approach which pounds fervently beneath bewitching guitar layers and howling. A solitary guitar that let goes superb morphic solos. Isolated solos on a tempo without sequences but which quavers over an outfit of tones and heterogeneous percussions of tribal structures that make the charm of Steve Roach. And The Road Eternal goes out as it had start, leaving its musical imprints on 5 other following tracks.
Depart at Sunrise spreads out its rangy and gloomy musical waves as slow flights of an eagle on hunting. It's an ambient intro assorted of soft ethereal layers and sweet laments coming from a hypersensitive guitar which are finally pulled by a delicate rhythmic which skips finely on the tips of its chords. A cadence with charmingly harmonious jolts, a bit weaved like those on the title-track, flooded by very nice synth layers and supported by stunning glaucous ball bearings which are dazzling strangeness from a percussion universe unique to Steve Roach's overflowing imagination. And, lasciviously, synths layers and guitars laments float over this rhythmic warmly mesmerizing and strangely morphic for a track which offers quite a lively beat. The Next Place is a long track which swarms of a life liven up by a mixture of pulsations and heterogeneous percussions. A world of percussions which pound and run at nice flow on light guitar riffs and slinky as well as moving synth layers. It's a track which is highly similar to Travel by Moonlight which on the other hand is more sinuous, ambiguous and hypnotic. Delicate, First Twilight floats above our thoughts as an angel above our dreams. The fusion of synths and guitars layers shape a universe of extreme solitude on this ambient track, quite as on Night Strands which on the other hand is more syncretic and soaks in an eclectic sound fauna on a guitar substructure equal to Michael Rother's sounds.
I just loved THE ROAD ETERNAL which is a musical experience which rides long silent and nightly surges of synths and guitars as ambient as spectral on rhythms absent of sequences. Unusual and uncommon rhythms, witnesses of a sound research that establishes Steve Roach and Erik Wollo in a league of their own in this constantly evolving musical world. This second collaboration is a brilliant stroke of genius and a meticulous work which brings to a simply brilliant result. It's poetry without words, a bedside book makes of sounds and an inescapable companion for empty nights when we try to understand what we are doing on this road which, by moments, seems to us so eternal.
Sylvain Lupari (June 23rd, 2011) ****½*
Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp