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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

STEVE ROACH: Now/Traveller (1992)

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

Now/Traveller is a beautiful jewelry box where Steve Roach weaves the main lines of his music to come. A Must have!

NOW 1 Growth Sequence 9:05  

2 Cloud Motion 5:15 3 The Ritual Continues 4:47  

4 Comeback 6:00

5 Inquest 7:00 TRAVELLER 6 Worlds 3:20  

7 Mysteries Continue 6:04 8 Light Sound 1:46  

9 Snow Canon 4:22 10 Traveler 8:12  

11 T.B.C. 5:06

12 Canyon Sound 2:58  

13 Time for Time 3:33

14 Reflector 6:50 Fortuna 17048-2

(CD 74:18) (V.F.) (Ambient, tribal and sequenced base EM)

NOW & TRAVELLER! Steve Roach's first 2 opuses on the same CD. Previously the Californian synthesist had released an album with Moebius, an American group that made EM inspired by the German progressive electro scene of the 70's, kind of Kraftwerk at their debut. Then comes NOW in 1982 and TRAVELLER the year after where already Steve Roach seemed to have defined his style and his structures. His musical signature! If Now was only available in a cassette format, Traveller became the first significant work of Roach to be pressed on vinyl in 1983. Besides being atmospheric, harmonious and sequenced, Roach already flirted with the landscapes music. The Fortuna record label, for a long time associated with the American esoteric music in the course of the 80's, took back the rights on Traveller which saw a second edition being published in 1987. But no signs of Now until 1992 when Fortuna offered Now and Traveller on the same CD; NOW & TRAVELLER. An excellent initiative which presents us a sonic universe to the greatness of a musician who quietly is eventually going to favor the contemplative music of ambiences, a more discreet style on NOW & TRAVELLER.

Growth Sequence opens with a great line of sequences where the keys run in cascades with tones of xylophone. A nice synth covers this structure of static rhythm, blowing heat and an undulating envelope which sounds out of balance with the fury of sequences. Electronic percussions get grafted to the sequences and shape a furious tinkling rhythm of which the frenzy is stuck into an intense minimalist spiral. Steve Roach multiplies very inspired solos which spin of their tones and of their singings on a structure of rhythm fattened by the arrival of percussions with tones of clogs. This is a very good track with a synth as much agile as intense which wraps a hyper nervous tempo, showing clearly the influence of the Berlin School movement, mainly of Klaus Schulze, on Steve Roach. Cloud Motion is the first ambiospherical track from Roach to get into my ears. It's Roach as we know him today, except that the approach is less atonal. We feel some subtle modulations throughout the caresses from a synth and its rather angelic singings. The Ritual Continues boards the very first spiritual tribal approaches of Roach. The rhythm is finely jerky and reminds me of these duels of voice and hypnotic rhythms that we will hear a few years later with the music of Dead Can Dance. In fact Now becomes a kind of introduction to the universe of the American synth wizard, because Comeback presents us his approach of abstract music with modulations which roll in loops and among which the echoes, as well as the jingles of maracas, get lost in an intense atmospheric broth.