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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

STEVE ROACH: Fever Dreams I (2004)

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

It's some good Steve Roach who exploits the chiaroscuro wonderfully in a tribal world peculiar to his imagination

1 Wicked Dream 18:41

2 Fever Pulse 10:34

3 Tantra Mantra 29:36

4 Moved Beyond 14:30

(DDL 73:23) (V.F.)

(Tribal Ambient)

It was by starting at the end that I discovered Steve Roach's Fever Dreams trilogy. If Fever Dreams III will have put a few listenings to charm me, this first part immediately seduced me with this analogous approach of Western Spaces skillfully matched on a tribal atmosphere. A recipe unique to Steve Roach who surrounded himself with Byron Metcalf on tribal percussions and Patrick O'Hearn on bass. A rhythmic section to give life to the tribal-ambient visions of the famous American musician.

A weak desert wind comes alive under rattlesnake's tribal style of percussions, and here is the ambient, tribal and desert universe of the Western Spaceman. But you have to be careful when describing Steve Roach's music. The native California synthesist likes to spread long, vaporous breaths on percussions that belong to the aboriginal ancestors. And it's the apotheosis of a universe of hybrid ambiences; or a soft, lifeless music which migrates on unreal tribal percussions. And a bit like Western Spaces, the ambiences of this FEVER DREAMS I are very enhanced. Wicked Dream presents a confused rhythm, carried by the discreet bass of Patrick O'Hearn, this great forgotten musician. His bass draws slow curves which crisscross a movement where percussions play a major role on a track with weak spite which is conceived on dark strata which float halfway up. This is magical and unique abstract which is the hallmark of Roach. If Fever Pulse shows a rhythmic progression on good percussions, chime effects and a creamy vaporous synth, Tantra Mantra stands out with a more constant approach where desert percussions flirt with good spectral modulations of a creative synth. The movement is fluid and there is a kind of hypnotic charm because of the skins whose sounds are bewitching in a serene space. Moved Beyond is a title full of contrasts. If the synth waves are of an azure semi-darkness, the percussions swarm for a rhythm which separates the ambient movement from any reverie. A bit like if Steve Roach wanted us to hear the constant bubbling of the synth layers to the surges of a steel-guitar over percussions with tribal rolling in constant effervescence. A good title, with rich atmospheres and creative structures as we find throughout this first part of the Fever Dreams trilogy.

It's some good Steve Roach who exploits the chiaroscuro wonderfully in a tribal world peculiar to his imagination. For my part I really liked these fights between its ambient approach and these tribal percussions which cut out the sides of the sluggishness. But I'm always looking for the ideal context to listen to it. The reading is fine, the relaxation is not too much and for the dodos, it's too tribal. But whatever! It filters very well between the two ears.

Sylvain Lupari (March 8th, 2008) ***½**

Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp

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