STEVE ROACH: Sight of Ages (2010)
Updated: Jan 16
“You wouldn't be surprised if I say that it's another essential and a masterpiece to come for fans of ambient music”
1 Quelling Place 8:14
2 The View from Here 10:31
3 Sentient Breath 15:47
4 Morning of Ages 13:02
5 Return of the Majestic 16:03
6 Longing to Be... 10:10
(CD/DDL 73:50) (V.F.)
It is known, an artist creates according to his moods and his fancies. And we, the headphones on, are the auditory witnesses of these moments, sometimes intimate and sometimes collective, where the artist lives one or more significant moments in his life. Sometimes an artist will create a masterpiece following a personal drama. Making us listeners, indiscreet witnesses of an unknown drama. Is it correct? Is it correct to drink the ears wide open with infinite tenderness or with a passion for a personal and anonymous drama? I think so! The artist weaves his creations through his life experiences and offers them to us with all his passion and devotion to his work. So, listening to him is the equivalent of being his confidant. His obscure and distant friend who eats his emotions. SIGH OF AGES is Steve Roach's introspective feast. Made after 10 months of morning and night meditative thoughts, SIGH OF AGES is a personal reflection on loneliness and a sigh of time, ages and wear and tear of a lifetime.
Motionless behind the slow flights of a dark and thoughtful synth, Quelling Place evolves with the great impulses of the wings of a nomadic synth, exhausted by the weight of its wandering. A slow structure with heavy oscillations, Quelling Place floats with the grace of a nocturnal solitude where melancholy sighs overhang a synth with dark minimalist loops that turn and turn with the weight of an insomniac dreamer. Lighter and more joyful, The View from Here unfolds fine curly sequences which whisper and pitch hypnotically around heavy layers of a slowly modulating synth. A superb track which is reminiscent of the wonderful universe of Structures from Silence and Quiet Music. Here, as everywhere on this album, the movement is minimalist and gently scrolls through a poetic and lyrical universe where fine strata of a dark synth intersect with clearer and invigorating ones. A superb track that will take you beyond dreams. Sentient Breath is a long atonal sigh where multiple synth layers delicately crisscross in a long sonorous whisper. A nocturnal murmur where thoughts simmer in a head filled with regret and bitterness. At the very least, that's what stuck with my perception the most. A long daytime wandering that throws itself into the light of Morning of Ages and its natural grace that springs like a sunrise after a gloomy moon. The tone is still floating. Synth layers that float and swirl delicately in a more vivified dawn, healing the dreams of a night of wandering, on a structure where the silence of the angels is heard through a radiant and graceful synth. Great Roach here!
After these two tracks at the antipodes of rhythm, Return of the Majestic offers a splendid structure animated by fine sequences which twist and undulate in loops among delicate layers of a synth as poetic as dreamlike. Percussions and sound effects unique in Steve Roach's universe escape from this long-synthesized incantation, where this soft tumult brings a more airy dimension to an album stuffed with the sighs of the ages and its fallout of bitterness. A superb title whose gentle rhythm shapes a strange static procession as bewitching as it is sclerosing, casting a balm on the pains of time. Longing to Be ... concludes this meditative masterpiece around heavy synth layers which slowly twist on a dark structure. An ambient structure which evolves on great synthesized flights, like large threatening birds which sinuously fly over the intimacy of souls in perdition. Heavy, intriguing and dark, Longing to Be ... floats like a threat to introspection. Like a monster in our wardrobe who holds the keys to our spirituality.
After Live at the Grace Cathedral I was wondering how far Steve Roach would go in his quest for introspection. SIGH OF AGES isn't the answer, because it's evident that Roach is constantly torn by his spirituality and the duality of his emotions. This album is quite revealing on this subject. Anyway, I don't do psychoanalysis but into reviewing EM album. And this album is colossal and astonishing in an introspective way. An extremely moving and gripping album where Steve music goes all recesses of our own introspection. A sublime album which shows that the American synthesist never ceases to seduce and amaze with music without movement, or almost, but filled with emotions as intense as our sighs through the ages. For more than 30 years Steve has been true to himself and has built musical marvels that follow one another with constantly renewing astonishment. Thus, you wouldn't be surprised if I say that it's another essential and a masterpiece to come for fans of ambient and constructive reveries which joins a long list of albums that have the unique signature from the master of ambient music. It's one of the best album this year, along with the strong I Remain from The Glimmer Room.
Sylvain Lupari (November 02nd 2010) ****¼*
Available at Projekt Records