All is Now
by Matt Howarth, Sonic Curiosity
During the Spring and Summer of 2002, Steve Roach conducted an ambitious tour, playing concerts in Sedona, Portland, Oakland, and San Francisco. ALL IS NOW consists of selections from that tour, a total of 144 minutes of breathtaking contemporary electronic music.
Disc one offers a 74 minute collage of tracks from the tour, including excerpts from Roach's five hour ambient performance for the opening of Yoko Ono's retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in June of 2002. Here you will encounter languid passages of seething calm punctuated by nocturnal sounds that merge with the soothing tonalities, generating a twilight pastiche. Harsher textures rise to saturate the audience and generate more tension amid the drifting sonic vapors. Tempos (created by electronic pulsations occurring in a rolling structure) lend a churning rhythm to the mists, opening the path to a cohesion between the minimal and demonstrative elements. These rhythms surface with compelling results, establishing a peppiness to the overall trance that is intriguingly satisfying. Instead of disrupting the meditative state created by this music, these active beats inject an urgency to the atmospheric flow.
Meanwhile, disc two offers the complete Sedona concert (presented as it occurred except for a single edit to fit the performance on CD). In these 70 minutes, you will find more atmospheric textures coexisting with subtle-yet-substantive rhythms. The nimble and intricate E-perc infuses the ambience with grooves that instill cerebral activity, prompting the soothing tonalities to swell with more-than-subliminal authority. A presence of great power exudes from these sedate soundscapes. The stratospheric drones are augmented by slide guitar manipulations which only increases the haunting demeanor of the music.
One of the sounds employed by Roach (mainly on the second CD) is clearly sourced from the sound of a glass bottle rolling across a concrete surface. Although simple in its origins, this sound is subjected to intense and inventive processing, until what you hear is vibrantly ethereal and downright eerie.