The Ambient Expanse
by Mark Burbey, Alternative Press
Rating: Enthusiastically endorsed
Unlike previous collaborations with artists like Robert Rich, Kevin Braheny, Michael Sterns and others, THE AMBIENT EXPANSE is a "five-movement collaborative work created by two generations of ambient artists," with Steve Roach producing and providing added synth, atmospheres and inspiration.
Recalling the glory days of new age and ambient music, the five tracks on this album are nothing if not expansive. Typically cinematic and otherworldly from the start, the music calls forth images of massive snow plains and blinding horizons, star-swept vistas and heavenly landscapes. The first track, "35th Parallel" by Patrick O'Hearn, is the first to emerge from his many sessions with Roach, and is quite possibly Roach's most like-minded collaboration since working with Robert Rich. As a floating, rhythm-free soundscape, it's like an updated return to Roach's STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE and DREAMTIME RETURN and benefits from being played loud. Vir Unis, with whom Roach has collaborated on an album to be released early 1999, Stephen Bacchus and frequent collaborator of late, Vidna Obmana, contribute similarly inspired pieces. The final track by Roach is the most reflective – a touching conveyance to a vast wasteland of loneliness deep within the universal heart, reminding us who the master of ambience truly is.