Body Electric
by Hannah M.G. Shapero, Usenet's rec.music.newage
March 1999


Roach fans, this is your wake-up call! After the calm ambient depths of SLOW HEAT and the Western driftwood of DUST TO DUST, BODY ELECTRIC bursts into the soundscape with a driving exultant rush. Not since 1997's ON THIS PLANET has Roach, along with his excellent collaborator Vir Unis and other fine sidemen, produced such compelling, percussion-driven work.

BODY ELECTRIC proves again to me that Steve Roach is the most creative and versatile composer working in the electronic-music field today. BODY combines all the rich repertoire of sounds that Roach has built up over the last 20 years, everything from synthesizer work and sequences and tape loops to Native American and worldwide percussion, to odd wind instruments like Mayan trumpets and ocarina, to chanting and electronically altered vocals. This one's got it all: electronic growls, clangs, drums and rattles, industrial noise, mystical hoots, Robert Rich-like "glurp," sounding stones and grinding rocks. And all of it makes me want to get up out of my computer chair and free-dance to the rhythm.

The tracks move seamlessly from one to another, and each one features a different rhythmic exploration. The pace is varied with quieter interludes of Roach's trademark floating chords and ambient space-desert views. But there are also times when the rhythm roars into the realm of shamanic trance-beat.

The mix of different sounds – and different players – is better than ever here. Roach and Vir Unis work perfectly together. For instance, in track 3, "Mind Link," the familiar cool contemplative Roach chords are layered under an explosive, steam-puffing mix of electronic rhythms, rattles, and grinding-stone zings. And in the middle of this noisy train ride, you hear the night-song of the little tree frog and the crickets from SLOW HEAT!

There is a continuity from one track to the next, so that a listener can hear the rhythm metamorphose as the album goes on. While there is always something new coming down the sound- road, there is a progression from the high energy of the earlier tracks to a slower, heavier pace in the later pieces. Because of this attention to pacing, BODY ELECTRIC feels like one large continuum, rather than a collection of separate musical pieces.

Among these slower (but still percussion- driven) pieces in the middle of the album there is the weirdly humorous track 6, "Homunculus Within," which features transformed, sighing or yelping human voices, like the sounds of lovers in the Underworld, along with tropical bird calls. This moves into industrial clanking that sounds like a construction site in the jungle. As the album moves on, it flows into more ambient spaces, such as track 8, "Solar Tribe," where the percussion is muted against nocturnal drones and Roach's own eerie vocal soundings.

The pace picks up again for one more power ride, in track 9, "The New Dream." This almost- "techno" construction carries the listener along on a steely rail of sound, until it melts into the last piece, no. 10, "Cave of the Heart." Here, BODY ELECTRIC finally winds down, in a slow, dragging rhythm that has an almost physical effect, fading into smooth ambient soundwashes, like the "cool- down" after a workout. Indeed, after listening to BODY ELECTRIC, you will want to catch your breath! Some (wimpy, wussy) listeners may find it too intense and too exhausting. It's not an album to listen to when you want to calm down or have a relaxing time in the bubble bath. Even though it is, at roughly 57 minutes, about 15 minutes shorter than many of Roach's previous works like ARTIFACTS or ON THIS PLANET, it is one of his most intense albums yet. This is powerful work from a professional in his prime.

A few words on the graphic packaging: BODY ELECTRIC comes not with the typical CD folder insert, but with small, separate square sheets featuring the black, yellow, orange, and purple eye- blasting computer art of Steven Rooke. It is a look which refers back to the psychedelic '60s, but is updated to the digital '90s. It is a fitting face for the work of the premier musical techno-shaman of our time.


Body Electric


feature  feature

CD  $15.00 
ON SALE, $10.00 
iTunes 
Bandcamp 
Body Electric
Steve Roach, Vir Unis
1999 Projekt PRO90 (CD)
Reviewed by Alternative Press, AmbiEntrance, Exposé, Groove Unlimited, Illinois Entertainer, Progressive World, Star's End, Synth Music Direct, Usenet's rec.music.newage

Get ready for a new level in bio-electronic "soul stirring body music, forged out of the reflections from the gene pool from which we crawled out." This collaboration has brought about a powerful step forward for both artists. Judging from those who have previewed this recording, it is sure to surprise, delight and perhaps short-circuit fans of dynamic electronic-organic music. This album was created on the instruments of our time by two artists who have reached deep into the heart of the machines, pulling out the passion captured on BODY ELECTRIC.
 
1. Born of FireRealAudioMP39:12 
2. Pure ExpansionRealAudioMP310:16 
3. Mind LinkRealAudioMP37:07 
4. Gene PoolMP35:40 
5. Synaptic GapMP31:56 
6. Homunculus WithinMP34:15 
7. BloodstreamingMP33:10 
8. Solar TribeMP34:13 
9. The New DreamRealAudioMP33:58 
10. Cave of the HeartMP37:00 


The Electric Body

VHS Video out of stock
The Electric Body
Steve Roach, Vir Unis
1999 Timeroom Editions (Video)

We are now offering the first video release on the Timeroom Editions label, THE ELECTRIC BODY. This video was featured during Steve's recent concerts, and now is the chance to have it for your own playback experience. The effect upon your nervous system will confirm the title of this video. THE ELECTRIC BODY is 30 minutes of morphing "evolutionary art" created by Steven Rooke, in the same vein as the BODY ELECTRIC cover artwork. These images were animated on a program created by Steven, and rendered on an SGI system running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 3 months at a time.

The soundtrack features the first two tracks from BODY ELECTRIC, along with a 14-minute unreleased track.

VHS video, NTSC format (US) only, 30 minutes.
 
1. Born of FireRealAudioMP39:12 
2. Pure ExpansionRealAudioMP310:16 

also contains one additional unreleased track from the BODY ELECTRIC sessions



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