Structures From Silence
by Dave Aftandilian, Ink 19
Last year, Yoga Journal listed STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE as one of their Top 10 all-time CDs for yoga – not bad for an album that had first been released 16 years earlier! Many more folks than yoga practitioners love this album; in fact, it's one of Steve Roach's top three best-selling albums from his entire career (over the course of which he has released literally dozens of albums). Recently it went out of print, and Projekt remastered and re-released it.
After listening to Structures, I can see why it's one of the most popular of Roach's albums. Composed entirely of synth textures, it doesn't have the tribal rhythms so crucial to much of his work. But it also isn't as harsh or jarring as some of his material; it's peaceful, relaxing, and spiritually rejuvenating, so that by the end of its three long tracks you feel rested, cleansed, and refreshed.
The album opens with "Reflections In Suspension," composed mainly of rhythmic electronic watery blips, high sparkling synth touches, and an underlying low drone. Listening to it feels like being rocked gently in a canoe or rowboat by low swells on a wide lake, as the sun strikes diamond sparkles from the tips of the wavelets. There is perhaps just a hint of menace at the far edges of your awareness, with darker organ-like synth tones evoking a distant sense of the vast depths of dark water beneath you. But mostly the shimmering waves of synth loops just wash over you, warm, radiant, and relaxing. "Quiet Friend" is more subdued, and more spiritual in tone, with gentle synth washes enveloping you and pulsing with higher tones like star-beacons in the darkness. Sitting alone in peaceful reflection you feel another presence, kind and giving, that buoys and guides your thoughts and spirit with understanding and affection.
Structures ends with the almost thirty minute long title track. Beautiful, rhythmic watery synth lines billow around you and cushion you on all sides, like ripples or clouds, while high drone-voices shimmer like flickering fireflies in the purple twilight joining heaven and earth. As you immerse yourself deeper and deeper in the track, you experience a slight sense of falling, only to be buoyed up again by the warm, drifting synths, which all too soon return you to the silence of which you and they are made.