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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

STEVE ROACH: Fade to Gray (2016)

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

Purely ambient! No rhythms or something that sounds like it, but always the magic of Steve Roach is so present

1 Fade to Gray 73:54 Timeroom Editions | TM41

(CD/DDL 73:54) (V.F.) (Ambient Drone Music)

And me who thought that our friend Steve Roach had reached his dark and meditative limits of ambient music with monuments of contemplative introspection such as This Place to Be and Shadow of Time in 2016! Now he ends the year with a pair of albums of abstract music where the shadows of the silence are as much intuitive as undisciplined. FADE TO GRAY is a heavy album and without rhythms. Even not these wave motions which repeal the linear and abstract music. No! No rhythms at all! Maybe an undulatory strength which would suck up and switch off the fires of candles, but nothing more.

Quietly, the long immersive wave gets in our ears for the next 74 minutes. The effect of hollow breeze amplifies a soundscape which is similar to a rise of grey clouds which we observe on the bed of a mountain. These clouds which move silently hide nevertheless a deaf anger which magnetizes the elements of the color grey. We hear here and there notes, as breaths, ill-assorted roaming and closing like oysters. But for the main part, FADE TO GRAY is a long circular tornado which moves by the strength of the drones and of their magnetism to form a compact mass where the sound gets lost in its longitudinal waves. Beautiful? How the sound of grey can be beautiful? It’s like to be swallowed by a huge magma of drones with the risk to deafen our capacity to extract some harmonious symbiosis from a floating stony heap. But some people will say that it's the ideal music to plunge into a vegetative state where we disconnect from the reality. It’s the principle of the aforesaid albums higher, as well as the series Immersions or, more recently, the 4 CD boxset of Bloodmoon Rising which seems to have lost a 5th CD during the final mastering. We found it here. We always have the everlasting discussions Lise and I, as well as with my friend Bernard, to knowing if music such as FADE TO GRAY is real music. If Lise finds that monotonous, Bernard on his side mentions that Steve Roach had reached the limits of ambient music at the end of the 80’s by making reference to Quiet Music. Only the power differs. Here, the waves which roll like a corridor towards the void are of a power to swallow our aura, to inhale us towards the most intense of the relaxations. A little as if Steve Roach succeeded in joining us, in erasing time. And it's, according to me, the most beautiful quality of his ambient music which he lets murmur through a corridor of humming which fade in a finale where the grey passes from dark to translucent.

If one likes the ambient music dark and meditative, we should talk about it to those who are still not liking the genre. Otherwise, we move on. But for once in your life, let yourself wrap by the universe of ambiences from Steve Roach's soundscapes. And you will understand then why when we have the ears full of his music, we simply cannot take off from it. Strong and solid Steve Roach, as we are used to!

Sylvain Lupari (March 14th, 2017) ***½**

Available at Timeroom Direct Bandcamp

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