Suspended Memories: Earth Island


When Steve Roach, Jorge Reyes and Suso Saiz recorded their first album under the group name Suspended Memories last year, each individual was a respected recording artist in his own right. Yet the overwhelming response to Forgotten Gods suggests that the force of this international ensemble may be even greater than the sum of its parts. This 1993 HOS release received superior ratings in Downbeat, Pulse! and CD Review, made several critics' annual Top 10 lists, and was recently nominated for a NAIRD award. That's just in the U.S. The group's growing international following led to a whirlwind tour of Spain and a well-received appearance at Germany's Klang Art new music festival.

A number of artists worldwide have already hailed Suspended Memories as an important inspiration. One appreciative musician called the team of Roach, Reyes and Saiz "the ambient supergroup." Critic and radio producer John Diliberto, however, summed it up best in his CD Review critique: "This album reveals new crevices of sound, new interplays of culture, new voices from the past," later adding: "You don't experience Forgotten Gods, you are transformed with it."

The musicians themselves haven't had the time to rest on their laurels. They were also transformed by the experience and couldn't wait to jump off the creative edge together again. With Forgotten Gods barely in stores last spring, the trio juggled European concert dates with recording sessions for a new Suspended Memories release. The schedule was grueling -- intensive, highly improvisatory performances alternating with all-night brainstorms in studios from Madrid to Northern Germany.

It was a far cry from the seclusion of Roach's Arizona-based studio where Forgotten Gods was recorded. There, the primal magic and serenity of the Sonoran desert nourished the group's initial, neo-ritualistic excursion. But in Europe, the gods were buried under thousands of years of architecture, etiquette, industry and complacency. Still, the trio managed to map out places in between and outside Old World decorum, finally blasting through the confines of time and space as they united cultures, instruments and musical styles with sounds that seemed to be seeping in from some parallel universe.

With its mammoth beats, ceremonial rhythms, wailing Mayan trumpets, growling didgeridoos, Mexican field recording fragments, alien tone colors and surrealistic electric guitar melodies, Earth Island conjures up swirling apparitions from the past and the future. For Roach, Reyes and Saiz, there were no boundaries, only waves of sound splashing against the big island we call earth, washing relics from some distant clan onto new shores, eroding the conventions of the present and carrying the remains out to sea.

-- Linda Kohanov


STEVE ROACH

Already respected for his collaborations with musicians like Robert Rich, Michael Stearns, Kevin Braheny and Michael Shrieve, Steve Roach was primed to join forces with an international ensemble the caliber of Suspended Memories. He remains best known, however, for his work as an innovative solo artist with over a dozen such albums to his credit, including Now, Traveler, Empetus, Structures from Silence, Quiet Music (3 vols.), his classic double CDs Dreamtime Return and World's Edge, and his fall 1993 release Origins. In recent years, Roach's influence abroad has extended beyond his own concerts and recordings. Artists from Canada, Australia, Germany, France and Belgium have enlisted his services as a producer and guest artist, often traveling to Roach's Tucson-based recording studio The Time Room.

JORGE REYES

Though Jorge Reyes has studied classical flute, played in rock bands and explored the music of other cultures during travels through India and the Middle East, he is most profoundly influenced by his Mexican heritage. Ranging across his homeland, he continues to collect Pre-Columbian instruments, make field recordings of native Indian performers and immerse himself in the rituals from which the music emerged centuries ago. Reyes' own style is a neo-shamanic combination of the latest electronic innovations and the most ancient roots of ecstatic Mexican music making. Previous recordings include Bajo el Sol Jaguar, Comala, Nierika, and Cronica de Castas (with Suso Saiz). El Costumbre, his most recent project as a leader, was released on the Australian-based Extreme label.

SUSO SAIZ

In Spain, Suso Saiz is a sought-after producer and composer with projects spanning jazz, pop, world and avant-garde music. After studying guitar at the Madrid Conservatory of Music, he established himself as an iconoclast in the European new music scene by forming numerous experimental ensembles. His solo work has long explored multicultural trance rhythms and the psychology of ambience. Along the way, he developed a sophisticated, other-worldly approach to the electric guitar. Using highly personal techniques of sonic processing, Saiz's guitar work emphasizes texture, emotional potency and liquid manipulations of tone color. His most recent recordings include Simbolos, Mirrors of Pollution, Hypnotics, and Musica Esporadica (with Glen Velez).



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