by Hannah M.G. Shapero
August 17, 2002
Ten years after its release, this two-CD album is still one of Steve Roach's very best. The first CD is electronic ambient in a heroic mode, composed of wide-open harmonies that evoke the vast spaces of the American Southwest, or mystical tone-constellations, musically imagining the clear starry skies above the desert. Roach's sonorities range from his characteristic cloudlike "floating chords," to metallic drones, industrial clanks, and eerie whispers. There is an invigorating variety of rhythms, from Aboriginal, Shamanic and Native American-inspired drumming to techno-industrial steampower. Listen for the jewel-like track 7, "Glimpse," at just over 3 minutes one of Roach's best short pieces ever. The second CD, "To the Threshold of Silence," is a single piece, just about an hour long. This Tibetan-inspired composition begins with gongs and bells, progressing slowly through an inner landscape of sepulchral percussion, electronic drones, and transformations of overtone-singing voices. At times the sound dwindles almost to nothing; at other times it rumbles like ominous distant thunder. It seems a perfect soundtrack to the "Tibetan Book of the Dead" – a mind-altering sound journey not to be taken lightly. Together these two visions, one of grandeur and one of awesome darkness, comprise WORLD'S EDGE, a masterpiece from an artist who is still going strong.