The Ambient Expanse
by Matt Howarth, Sonic Curiosity
Here we see (or more literally hear) Roach conduct a sociological experiment with contemporary musicians pursuing the ambient genre.
This 1999 release is actually a five-movement collaborative work by five musicians. This concept was the brainchild of Steve Roach. Besides his own track, Roach is also featured as a guest synthesist on each of the other contributors' tracks.
Patrick O'Hearn's contribution, "35th Parallel", launches this unique collaborative release. The piece is ethereal and powerful in its textural augmentation. (For those interested in origins, O'Hearn was once a bassist for Frank Zappa before embarking on a long a renowned ambient career.)
Vir Unis' "The Undivided Flow" track possesses a forceful liquid quality, freeing the expansion to elaborate unchecked and fill the sky with beguiling atmospherics. Harmonic pulsations are frozen and stretched into infinite duration. There is a subdued dynamic to this piece that oozes under the skin, generating a sense of cosmic wonder.
Stephen Bacchus delivers the third movement, "Point of Safety". This time the ambience is more restrained, establishing a zone of chilling sedateness that rings with an inspirational disposition.
The expansion continues with Belgian synthesist Vidna Obmana's "The Space In-Between" track. Still quite tranquil, the electronics are tempered with processed bamboo flute and fujara. Effectively, this track functions as a rest-stop amid the tireless flow.
Bringing the 68 minute sonic fusion to a conclusion is Steve Roach's "The Eternal Expanse". Employing a structure of ascendant crests, this piece excellently functions as a climax of ambience.