Over the past ten years, Steve Roach, Kevin Braheny, and Michael Stearns have established themselves as conceptual innovators and major solo recording artists. These three synthesists collaborated for the first time on an album entitled Desert Solitaire.

"The Southwest desert is inviting and intoxicatingly beautiful," said Roach, "but it is also dangerous and frightening. We wanted to capture the desert's timeless beauty, and we also wanted to create in sound the more visceral emotional experience of actually being there. The music contains some lovely desert imagery, but it also contains some of the desert's ominous, potentially lethal undertones. We were inspired by our personal experiences in the desert, by Edward Abbey's book, Desert Solitaire, and by Abbey's introduction to the Desert Images book, with photographs by David Muench. For us, this album is as much a tribute to Edward Abbey as it is to the desert itself."

Roach, Braheny, and Stearns each play two solo compositions on Desert Solitaire. Roach and Stearns team up on three pieces, with Roach and Braheny working together on the title track.


Benedicto: may your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you – beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.

So long.

– from the preface to the 1988 edition of Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire (Tucson: The University of Arizona press)

This album is dedicated to the memory of Edward Abbey (1927 - 1989)... "If a label is required, say I am one who loves the unfenced country."


1. Flatlands / Roach 4'49"
2. Labyrinth / Stearns 6'56"
3. Specter / Roach 9'34"
4. The Canyon's Embrace / Roach, Stearns  3'35"
5. Cloud of Promise / Roach, Stearns 3'35"
6. Knowledge & Dust / Braheny 3'23"
7. Shiprock / Stearns 4'00"
8. Highnoon / Roach, Stearns 10'30"
9. Empty Time / Braheny 5'51"
10. From the Heart of Darkness / Stearns 3'50"
11. Desert Solitaire 6'06"

Total time:

65'12"

   Steve Roach -- Oberheim OB8, DMX, Matrix 12, Xpander, Emax, Arp 2600, Korg M-1, Kawi K-5, ocarina, Taos drum
Kevin Braheny -- The Mighty Serge, Prophet VS and Prophet 2002 synthesizers, soprano saxophone, tin whistle, Diamondback rattlesnake
Michael Stearns -- Roland S-50, D-50, Yamaha TX-7, Oberheim OB8, Serge Modular synthesizer, 12-string guitar

Guest musicians in order of appearance: Chuck Oken, Jr. -- shakers on "Flatlands"; Robert Rich -- dumbeck, gourd drums on "Specter"; Miguel Rivera -- effects and ghost percussion on "Labyrinth" and "From the Heart of Darkness"; Leonice Shinneman -- percussion, North Indian pakhawaj and manjerra, African berimbau, melodic rattle, claves on "Empty Time"; Hyman Katz -- flute on "From the Heart of Darkness"


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