STEVE ROACH: Zones- Drones & Atmospheres (2022)
Updated: Jan 16
“Just let ourselves be absorbed by the beauties of this album for who needs to escape”
1 The Living Space 14:28
2 Breathing Light 7:06
3 Neomorphic 11:03
4 Shadow Realms 7:49
5 Immerse Indigo 5:54
6 The Perfection of Solitude 16:18
7 Holding Light 9:53
Bonus Digital Edition 131:08
8 Submerged 73:04
9 Isolation Station 58:04
(CD: 79:11 / DDL 131:08) (V.F.)
(Ambient, Dark Ambient Music)
Fizzing balls bounce around to initiate The Living Space. The movement of these balls is like the equivalent of an overflow of particles pouring into a magnetic field. The echo of their shocks amplifies the random movement of these balls with hybrid tones and of which the mass forms a rhythm more engaging for the pleasure of the ears than for the feet. Still, it remains very celestial. Like stars shining in a heaven mixed by maelstrom of multi colored layers. Synth waves start to swarm in the background, whereas the presence of seraphic voices belongs more to the power of the imagination than to reality... Although I cannot deny their presence, especially towards the finale. The marbles clump together in a pattern that has become sequenced as this wall of waves moves as slowly as a drifting musical vessel, realistic tones included. The starry balls become ever so slightly quieter. The backstage becomes the frontstage, and vice versa. Our ears are submerged by the migration and multiplication of the synth layers whose bluish lamentations curl up like improbable couples dancing their ethereal waltzes. Ah that the universe of Steve Roach astound. The musician has become a master in the art of painting his ambient movements with both rhythmic and atmospheric colors, thus moving away from the impression that floating music is redundant. In this first long structure that initiates his new album ZONES-DRONES & ATMOSPHERES, he creates a melodic texture with the interlacing of multiple balls to make us plunge into a state of hypnosis sucked by the migration of this floating phase. Where the membrane of the synth layers is oiled with a steel blue color, while the balls make a last appearance under the humming of astral goddesses and this strange noise, it sounds like a cuicui, which calls our attention even more.
Interested, aroused curiosity are the beginnings of the art of Steve Roach's atmospheric music much more than his addiction to immerse us in long meditative phases. What used to be the case is not anymore. Since his meeting with Robert Logan, the albums Biosonic and Second Nature in 2016, the synthesist from La Mesa, California, has expanded his tonal palette for the setting of his atmospheres. And he rightly shares it in his new album on the American label Projekt Records. Certainly and as its title indicates it quite well, ZONES-DRONES & ATMOSPHERES plunges us in a zone of drones and atmospheres where the dark ambient style is the main asset of this album. A bit like Painting in the Dark where the roots of Neomorphic belong, but especially Fade To Grey and its symphony for drones and buzzing movements. This new album is made up of 7 musical tableaux that show his great knowledge of the meditative spheres. The CD, as well as the downloadable album, comes with two long bonus tracks, offering more than 183 minutes of music with long, buzzing murmurs in our cerebral intimacy where friend Steve is a master of playing with colors and shapes. Let's take Breathing Light and its arabesques that stretch their points, flattening their curves to reach these floating embraces while radiating other tonal colors. After the Neomorphic's eternal fall of sounds, Shadow Realms proposes a chant of drones which unravel in banks of sound mist. Layers with an orchestral texture give a second tint to this dark ambient movement. The breaths are hybrid with horn tones, like droning whispers, which act as vectors to reach a form of spiritual serenity. Immerse Indigo is heavier with a linear sound mass from which barely less dark filaments emerge, nuancing its immense atmospheric scope. Those who prefer an ambient music animated by sequences, Steve Roach thought of you with The Living Space and especially with the wonderful The Perfection of Solitude. This title evolves on more than 16 minutes brings us back to the ambient structures of The Skeleton Keys, as to the analog period of the American synthesist. The movement is articulated around a palette of keys sequenced in a rubbery spectrum where the balls bounce, rise and fall with an organic dust of tied to them. And it all unfolds as if in a dream with this compact haze cushioning the shock of the bounces, sculpting a haunting rhythmic texture. The colors of the winds add an intriguing vision to this rhythm that gets sucked in by these same winds after the 10th minute. Holding Light ends ZONES-DRONES & ATMOSPHERES as in the good old days when Steve created a symphony from a breeze that moves by its inflections, a bit as to catch its breath. The phenomenon is exploited on a larger scale on Submerged whose nuances in the drones are conducive to these contrasts of light and shadow that draw us into a state of sleepy hypnosis. And with 73 minutes, Submerged, which reminds me of the unreleased material in the 3CD edition of Structures from Silence, has time to put us to sleep. More cavernous and vibrating with its whispers along the smooth walls of its huge tonal cave, Isolation Station also has these virtues, except that its subtle changing panorama makes it a little more exciting to listen to.
Of course there are lengths! But isn't that precisely what makes Steve Roach's music so beautiful? Hypnotic, magnetizing and propelled by these barely perceptible impulses, we hear the phases evolved by sequences that leave a tiny opening to modify the texture, the forms and its colors. This is precisely where Steve Roach catches our interest. But that's been known for a long time. Let's just let ourselves be absorbed by the beauties of this ZONES-DRONES & ATMOSPHERES. A beautiful album for who needs to escape...
Sylvain Lupari (January 15th, 2022) *****
Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp