by Glenn Hammett, The Tracking Angle
Remember the supergroups? Sure you do! In the late sixties, if a musician had a successful backlog of material, or simply looked the part, he could combine his talent with others of similar rock-royalty status. After months of grooming and preparation, they would announce themselves to the world as the next best thing. Shortly thereafter, egos would flare and they'd break up (usually to form another, far superior supergroup-to-end-all supergroups).
Although some were less brilliant than a super-nova, a few, like Led Zeppelin, managed to change the course of rock forever.
Three decades on and supergroups are still forming, the formula trickling down into musical areas for outside the main ring of the media circus.
Obviously then, this isn't a review of Michael Jackson's pairing with Slash.
There was no fanfare with the release of EARTH ISLAND, no videos on MTV, no thirty foot statues floating up the East River, just a simple one page press release.
Still, Suspended Memories is a bonafide super group, one that managed to earn them (yikes!) New Age Recording of the Year from the National Association of Independent Record Distributors.
Coalescing the talents of Arizonian electronics virtuoso Steve Roach, Mexican ethno-ambient multi-instrumentalist, Jorge Reyes and Spain's hypnotic guitarist, Suso Saiz, Suspended Memories defines the essence of "Musique Nouvelle" in the nineties. No constraints. No compromise.
Roach, with almost two decades worth of solo and collaborative works, numbering in the dozens, is finally getting the recognition he deserves. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Roach need look no further than the electronic section at Tower, teeming with Roachette wannabies.
Roach's signature sound, one of vast space filled with textured washes of sound, dense drones and slowly cascading notes, reflects his love of the open landscape and big sky of the Southwest.
Steve's compositions are machine-driven, yet he manages to underscore his sound with a distinct organic element using an assortment of ethnic drums and bells, didjeridoo and other sundry implements.
Beautiful, rich, velvety and warm, Roach's work is an intricate tapestry of sound that makes subsequent listenings rewarding. His music is sonically, emotionally and spiritually deep.
Where Roach's work is electronic adorned with the acoustic, the opposite is true for Jorge Reyes. With over a dozen solo efforts, Reyes is the sublime Master of tribal-ambient music. A sense of unearthed primordial memories, magic and the "Other" permeates Reycs spiritual sound rituals.
Inspired by the music of ten-thousand years past, which was handed down through the generations by native Mexican Indians, Reyes' vision, a musical journey through time and space, is singular.
Weaving his magic through his collection of thousands of authentic ancient instruments, Reyes has independently brought Pre-Hispanic music into the view of the public eye.
The sound-shamen creates for the listener a pure, undiluted peregrination to the "Logos," a dimension of reality which most people don't imagine exists. Many of today's ethnoambient artists cite Reyes as a key inspiration for the music they create. Listen to TUU, Voice of Eye or O Yuki Conjugate back-to-back with a Reyes CD, and the influence comes into full focus.
The third member of this team, Suso Saiz, is so much in demand by artists, that if duplicating machines were a reality, his would be locked into "overdrive." Saiz's guitar stylings mutate from heavy, distorted Hendrix-inspired riffs, to the delicate, jazzy (yet cosmic) style of Ash Ra's Manuel Göttsching to the hypnotic trances Robert Fripp invented on the Fripp and Eno collaborations. Saiz rakes experimental guitar well into the twenty-first centuty.