STEVE ROACH: What Remains (2022)
“Our friend Steve does it again with a majestic album that travels all around of his musical imprints”
1 Currents of Compassion 26:06
2 Prometheus Passage 7:18
3 The Gone Place 21:38
4 What Remains 15:21
(CD/DDL 70:23) (V.F.)
(Ambient, Berlin School, Tribal)
The music comes from afar! A bit like being shy at the mere idea of its bewitching power. A buzzing sound around which oscillating loops are forged, barely jerky, camouflaging electronic percussions that animate Currents of Compassion with its various currents of sleep-inducing rhythm. There is this suite of discrete arpeggios (3 or 4) that roll in loops, these percussions and these organic yowlings that structure a hypnotic rhythm while the synth throws these clouds of mystical mist and a short line of evasive melody that gnaws at our senses. With a soporific softness, the rhythm of Currents of Compassion goes up and down, as on an escalator with only two steps, in minimalist temporal loops. Architect of sounds and speaker of atypical electronic masses, Steve Roach multiplies the contacts with his knowledge by elaborating a long structure to which he grafts sounds, elements of ambient rhythm and harmonies, like this electrostatic wire which rolls in loop while irradiating the ambiences of its spectral presence, in a symphony pushed by an eloquent game of percussions and magnetizing organic percussive effects. The power of the modular! Steve Roach manipulates it since Skeleton Keys in 2015 and elaborates it with all his art in this grandiose track where you can sleep, dream with your eyes open or simply listen to the unfolding of 26 minutes of pure pleasure. Savorously hypnotic...
Accustomed as we are to Steve Roach's great works, it is always with astonishment that we hear the American musician surpass himself with each new album. WHAT REMAINS doesn't shake anything up though! This latest album from Roach offers nothing less than a musical look back at his amazing career with 4 long musical structures that link his various influences. Currents of Compassion could have been a Klaus Schulze track so much its hypnotic approach flirts with the Berlin School of this great musician who died recently. If it's not an homage, it sounds just like it! The album has a tribal track that flirts with the essences of both Australian and African peoples in a long structure that unites the two poles. And there is of course one of those tracks that go back in time, as a superb track of dark ambiences. A sound and music cocktail to spend 70 minutes of pure happiness!
If you've seen Ridley Scott's Promotheus, it's easy to make a possible connection between the atmospheres that flirt with darkness on Prometheus Passage. It's a very dark track that's filled with borborygmatic language where the deeper you go, the more you hear those plaintive, slightly apocalyptic synth tunes filling your ears with a slight chthonian enchantment. Dark Ambient more than realistic and well beyond the black masses of the Immersion series! These tenebrous lamentations occupy the scene of the impressive The Gone Place which brings us back to the wonderful era of Australian tribal rhythms. This very long track is what will become a staple in the hundreds of tracks of the American composer. The roaring bass and the texture of the electronic percussions increase a cadence that resonates like a frantic heartbeat between the multiple organic effects and keyboard riffs, structuring an ambient trance that fills with singing breezes, oxygen-free breaths and vocal effects from a synth that is generous with its sonic offerings all as enchanting as they are intriguing. Little by little, the ambiences of the Australian deserts swap for those of a sonorous jungle which makes hear its organic effects and its pagan airs under the greedy effect of a rhythm which ennobles its heaviness in sumptuous bewitching layers when we enter the second half of The Gone Place. It's a little after the 12th minute moreover that a fusion between the Austral and African universes takes shape under more spectral breaths and synth harmonies, reminding above all the context in which Steve Roach likes to work. A superb track that quietly decreases its pace, a bit like this hypnotist trying to draw us out of his hypnosis. Excellent, The Gone Place is worth the purchase of WHAT REMAINS! Do you remember those dark whispers, those background waves that rocked us to our dreams in the title track of Structures from Silence? Or that track lost in Steve's vaults on Emotions Revealed? Our friend Steve does it again with a majestic 15 minutes where What Remains will seduce even Morpheus. There is nothing more to write about the way this other little masterpiece of Steve Roach concludes, which makes me totally addicted to his emotions. Here, and like in many of his albums. The last one of this magnitude is undoubtedly the wonderful Tomorrow. Available on CD and download from August 5th on Projekt Records.
Sylvain Lupari (July 30th, 2022) *****
Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp