by Kiran Aditham, Ink 19
As the appropriately titled "Early Dawn" opens its cavernous wall of sound, with nary a beat or easily traceable melody in sight, I knew Steve Roach was serious about this desolate theme of early civilization. The patterns of serene keys soon fade in like hesitant apparitions, with the rhythms subtle and fluctuating on the 25-minute title track. Spread over two discs and nearly 150 minutes, EARLY MAN is as epic as it is mysterious, as eerie as it is tranquil.
Dark-ambient structures are the laid foundations, in the vein of Lustmord, but plenty more conceptual. The jittering, icy mechanics that culminate then dissipate towards the end of the first disc segue into mind-numbing and spacey audio excavation on the second. We've sunk further into the abyss of our ancestry, with vibrating chimes and cascading wails of tonality by the time we've discovered "Fossil And Fern." Roach has compiled layered, yet unassuming intricacy on both discs of EARLY MAN. Yes, it does take much patience to sit through, and I would only recommend it when you're waxing philosophical or drifting off in a dreamscape. But the end result can be quite rewarding, and a moody, grandiose audible history of mankind as well.