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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

STEVE ROACH: Live in Tucson: Pinnacle Moments (2016)

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

“Honestly I don't know how the man does it, but yet he made a wonderful live album in Live in Tucson. One of his best and yet he has so many”

1 Desert Eternal 17:31 2 Endorphin Dreamtime 8:09 3 Going Gone 20:33 4 Skeleton Passage 13:28 5 Spiral Passage 14:09 Timeroom Editions | TM37

(CD 78:28) (V.F.) (Driven sequencer-based music) In February 2015, Steve Roach gave two performances at the Tucson's Galactic Center in Arizona. LIVE IN TUCSON: Pinnacle Moments proposes the best moments of these two performances which were described as being pure moments of magic.

Played and recorded on the evening of 13th, Desert Eternal plunges us in the middle of in full nature with a concerto of stridulation. Layers of fairy voices and of synth breezes caress this chant of crickets while our senses perceive a gradation at the level of the ambience which reaches its meditative nirvana with the arrival of percussions a little bit after the 3 minutes' spot. From then on, the very mesmerizing rhythm of Desert Eternal rocks delicately, like in a sort of astral communion. The layers of voices become spectral breaths, even sibylline murmurs, whereas the music, the percussions helping, continues its gradation towards the tops of a contemplative dusty night. The night's depths wrap and immobilize this cerebral trance, plunging the music of Desert Eternal into a cover of desert and of hollow vibes which exhale at times these so remote perfumes of Desert Solitaire, but with a more contemporary touch and especially darker because of an avalanche of layers of which the contrasting colors still resound between my ears. Endorphin Dreamtime follows with a rhythmic structure as so splendid as unexpected. A fluid movement of the sequencer makes roll its keys which glitter in an organic sound cloth. Very regular pulsations push a minimalist structure which supports wonderfully the sinusoidal effects of the sequences. The layers are also rich and less crepuscular than in Desert Eternal, irradiating even the intensities of the wind gushes that we find in Empetus. We are not at the end of our delight when Going Gone pulls us towards these tribal vibes unique to Steve's repertoire. Here, the rhythm is nuanced and its fury is retained by layers of tribal flutes which throw these unique essences of the aboriginal peoples. One imagines easily a Steve Roach orchestrating a sound cataclysm by untying little by little the rhythmic skeleton of this long titre-fleuve, which flirts with a sort of tribal psychedelism, and accentuates its speediness by an accentuation of the percussions and of the sequencer lines. The strength and the interbreeding of the sound effects seems to break out as these speeded-up images of night tormented by fires, winds and earth disasters. I rarely heard such a tribal approach so much disproportionate and wild of Steve Roach that here. AWESOME!

Especially that Skeleton Passage loosens a movement of sequencer in mode: Free the wild keys! The movement is lively, for the neurons, with a crossroads of sinusoidal and spasmodic sequenced lines which interlace their differences and their aestheticism in a rhythmic broth as explosive as implosive. The percussive effects and these rattlers which ring with fascination are simply joyous for my ears eager of percussions and of sequences which revolve in an intense and dense magma of gravitational tones. A blast! And one should not forget that Steve Roach is alone on stage (I saw a picture of him on guitar!). Thus he acts like a conductor in front of his equipment in an improvisation of sequenced rhythms that he paints of contrasting tones and of organic effects under a sky blazing of his scarlet colors. It's a huge track with a blast of 20 minutes of pure madness that will astonish your ears due to counting all the lines of sequences which parade at full speed. Even if Spiral Passage was recorded the evening after the 13, it sticks perfectly to the finale of Skeleton Passage that one would want endless. Its opening accepts the mitigation of frantic movement of Skeleton Passage in order to lead it through oscillating repetitive loops where the color of the tones deforms the perception of hypnosis of this title which concludes quietly one of Steve Roach's best opuses at the level of beats and rhythms. A video of this event will be the cherry on the top of a sundae. Sylvain Lupari (September 25th, 2017) ***** Available at Timeroom Direct Bandcamp

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