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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

STEVE ROACH: Painting in the Dark (2016)

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

Even after nearly 35 years and more than 100 albums later, Steve Roach continues to charm us with his wide range of ambient tones

1 Threshold 17:40 2 I See Now 10:33 3 Painting at the Edge 19:28 4 Orbit of Memory 6:52 5 Rapt in Moonlight 6:25 6 Phosphene View 12:54 Timeroom Editions ‎| TM40

(CD 73:51) (V.F.) (Ambient Music)

I read comments on the Net, I also took acquainted of multiple posts on Facebook, about Steve Roach's last three albums which were released at the very end of 2016; this one, the wonderful Spiral Revelation and the heavy Fade to Gray. And no matter the directions, needs to mention that these 3 albums propose totally different soundscapes, fans' legion of the American musician answers present and shouts to genius! And it's doubtless the very big strength of Steve Roach; drag the listener throughout his numerous artistic paradoxes where the ambient music, to stay up with Morpheus, goes alongside with his darker side, in order to meditate with the angels of darkness, as well as his universe of sequencers that the likeable Californian musician seems to have renew with the pleasure to manipulate them since his brilliant Skeleton Keys in 2013. PAINTING IN THE DARK belongs to the first category! It's the ideal album to stroll with Morpheus.

Threshold opens our appetite for relaxation at top speed with an immense magma of increasing sonic waves which are propelled by the effect of densification between each of them. These waves lull us, as murmurs to us, with slow oscillations which reproduce marvellously the image of a big wave for a starving surfer rolling in slow motion and whom the void in the middle sucks up us like a magnet towards unknown territories. There where the plains undulate of their thousand pearl reflections and where these murmurs of absent voices coo between our ears while getting lost in a symphony of breezes and of their tints sometimes soothing and sometimes alarming. Due to its rhythm braided by the impulses of repetitive loops and its harmonies delicately lost in our illusions, Threshold will become a monument in Steve Roach's repertoire. All the same rather impressing with more than 35 years of career and more than 100 albums out! Between the shadows and the light, Steve Roach draws his feelings in the black while leaving to us a charcoal pencil in order to write our emotional chapters through the 74 minutes of the album. Roach plays on the ambiences by handling so much the reflections of the darkness that those a little more translucent, so amplifying this sensation of discomfort which flirts with its opposite. And that continues with I See Now and its slow intimidating twists which roar such as drones coming by far. And always, in spite of the heaviness and the opacity of the movements, fine melodies ring and glitter in an infinitely hollow universe. Ambient, the rhythm winds like a line of heavy rings and of which the slow dying walking always breathes of a life without reflects. There is a beautiful effect of subtle crescendo which propel the moods of PAINTING IN THE DARK and it’s still tangible on Painting at the Edge which proposes a long linear movement from where escape tiny bright filters between the chinks of a mobility impaired into a slow and crawling shape. Stemming from the membranes of Painting at the Edge, Orbit of Memory hypnotizes our senses with a very vintage approach when Steve Roach used to multiply the slow hypnotic loops which, in their turn, were buried by translucent and ethereal veils which seemed to escape out of these loops. Kidnapping in Moonlight is as much intriguing and hollow as I See Now while Phosphene View concludes this Steve Roach's opus with more bright which rises over a field of prism to shine with this fascinating mixture of the colors from Structures from Silence and Desert Solitaire.

Yes! It's a beautiful end of 2016 year that Steve Roach offers to his fans with 3 albums which reflect the dimension of this unique character and of whom the music ends always to cross us and to comfort us.

Sylvain Lupari (March 16th, 2017) *****

Available at Timeroom Direct Bandcamp

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