Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces
by Phil Derby, Electroambient Space
August 2003


This review presents me with a difficult challenge. I feel that I more than used up the superlatives in my vocabulary when I reviewed last year's TRANCE SPIRITS and DARKEST BEFORE DAWN. Though I like virtually all of Steve's output, I wasn't prepared for him to top himself quite so quickly and so thoroughly. At the risk of contradicting myself when I called TRANCE SPIRITS the best ambient CD ever (which I knew would come back to bite me, but not this soon), I will limit myself this time to saying this is easily one of Steve Roach's finest hours -- well, 5 hours to be more precise.

As an overview, MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES is what I would call the "classic" organic ambient style of Steve Roach: "Labyrinth" is his dark ambient style, "Recent Future" is a tasty variety sampler platter, and "Piece of Infinity" is one of Steve's trademark minimal long-form works, perhaps the subtlest and softest he has ever done.

My favorite is the first disc, five tracks running from nearly 12 to just over 20 minutes each. There are great highs and lows, wonderful deep drones and high shimmering tones, all richly layered in an organic primordial soup that touches a vibrant nerve for a thoroughly soothing listening experience.

Reaching deeper still is "Labyrinth", 10 tracks that plunge deep into "The Otherworld," a track which is representative of the intense darkness found at several moments on disc two. Strange creatures call out from the caverns as we stand on the precipice looking down. With no looking back, we enter the even darker "Wonderworld". Gems are found in both long and short tracks, as evidenced by the beautiful "Threshold". This small number takes on no small task, providing a smooth transition between the darkest and lightest selections on "Labyrinth", and it most ably does so. After "Dream Body" and "Slowly Dissolve" deceive us into thinking we've found our way out, "Womb Of Night" tells us otherwise. Though undeniably Roach, I'm also reminded here of old haunting Schulze numbers from the early 1970's.

We climb our way back out of the maze into disc three, "Recent Future". It's still a little dark here, but not as much as its predecessor. Here Steve shows just how many subtleties can be brought to bear on this genre called ambient. In these 13 tracks, as on the rest of the discs, not a beat is heard, but the variety on this single disc while retaining a cohesive quality is remarkable. Light, dark, simple, complex, visceral, elegant -- all are apt adjectives to describe the music to be found here. Sample to your heart's delight, or better yet, play it through from beginning to end and hear the flow as Steve intended. For that matter, I recommend doing that from "Palace of Nectar" all the way through to "Piece of Infinity". Consider it time very well spent.


Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces

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feature  feature

Poster $5.00
Part 1 CD  $23.00 
ON SALE, $17.00 
Complete 4-CD Set CD  $46.00 
ON SALE, $28.00 
iTunes 
Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces
Part 1 (Discs 1 & 2)

Steve Roach
2003 Projekt PRO142 (Poster, CD)
Reviewed by Frank MacEowen, Gilles Bédard, Jim Brenholts, Hannah M.G. Shapero, Ambient Musings, Beneath the Icy Floe, Deep Listenings, Disquiet, Echoes, Eclectic Earwig Reviews, Electroambient Space, e|i magazine, Morpheus Music, Sonic Curiosity, Sputnik Music, Synth Music Direct, Wind and Wire

Moving into the majestic realm of pure, non-rhythmic electro-acoustic soundworlds, MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES is a stunning 4-CD release marking a new milestone in Roach's history as a true artist of sound. His landmark statements -- including DREAMTIME RETURN, THE MAGNIFICENT VOID and STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE -- are all parts of the uninterrupted flow building to this release. After a recent run of rhythmically fused CD's, Roach moves into awe-inspiring sonic immersion, delving into a spiritual dimension of sound. Nearly 5 years in the making, this release offers a listening experience beyond entertainment and pop culture appeals, creating a new sense of 'ambient orchestration' through a constantly shifting flow of sounds and textures that enters a sacred realm of music.

"Abandoning all conventional notions of music as melody, harmony and rhythm, MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES allows the listener blissful hours on the high frontier between deep listening music and the spirituality of pure sound." -- Stephen Hill, Hearts of Space Radio

Note: The 4-Disc Set has an extra $3 shipping charge for deliveries outside the U.S. and Canada.

 
Disc 1: Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces
1. Palace of NectarMP314:15 
2. OracleMP320:06 
3. Within the MysticMP315:52 
4. PresenceMP311:47 
5. Vortex RingMP311:51 
Disc 2: Labyrinth
1. Wren and RavenMP314:49 
2. The OtherworldMP34:48 
3. WonderworldMP39:07 
4. ThresholdMP32:20 
5. Dream BodyMP311:12 
6. Slowly DissolveMP34:15 
7. Womb of NightMP32:42 
8. SoulwaveMP311:00 
9. Wordless 4:06 
10. NamelessMP39:29 

Poster measures 12" x 17".


Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces

Part 2 CD  $23.00 
ON SALE, $17.00 
Complete 4-CD Set CD  $46.00 
ON SALE, $28.00 
iTunes 
Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces
Part 2 (Discs 3 & 4)

Steve Roach
2003 Projekt PRO143 (CD)
Reviewed by Sputnik Music

A cinematic epic for the ears, part 2 of MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES builds upon the swirling currents and massive harmonic landscapes established on part 1. On the first disc of part 2 (titled "Recent Future"), Roach creates a state of constant becoming: soundscapes shift and morph in perpetual motion as one space dissolves away only to reveal the next compelling place. This realm of unresolved, suspended beauty reaches a high plateau setting the stage for the final disc's departure into a single long form track, perfectly titled "Piece of Infinity." The serene, mysterious atmosphere of the 74-minute space completes the tour de force MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES.

Moving into the majestic realm of pure, non-rhythmic electro-acoustic soundworlds, MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES is a stunning 4-CD release marking a new milestone in Roach's history as a true artist of sound. His landmark statements -- including DREAMTIME RETURN, THE MAGNIFICENT VOID and STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE -- are all parts of the uninterrupted flow building to this release. After a recent run of rhythmically fused CD's, Roach moves into awe-inspiring sonic immersion, delving into a spiritual dimension of sound. Nearly 5 years in the making, this release offers a listening experience beyond entertainment and pop culture appeals, creating a new sense of 'ambient orchestration' through a constantly shifting flow of sounds and textures that enters a sacred realm of music.

"Abandoning all conventional notions of music as melody, harmony and rhythm, MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES allows the listener blissful hours on the high frontier between deep listening music and the spirituality of pure sound." -- Stephen Hill, Hearts of Space Radio

Note: The 4-Disc Set has an extra $3 shipping charge for deliveries outside the U.S. and Canada.

 
Disc 3: Recent Future
1. Open HeartMP34:38 
2. Turn to LightMP39:19 
3. Shift the DimensionMP33:46 
4. This Moment is a MemoryMP35:44 
5. This Moment is Another MemoryMP34:32 
6. Slightly BelowMP32:28 
7. Essence of PhaedraMP32:45 
8. Left Perfectly AloneMP32:29 
9. A Subtle Body CurrentMP35:15 
10. Personal NatureMP310:36 
11. Grounding PlaceMP37:48 
12. Turning BackMP33:38 
13. The Spiral of Time's Fire Burns OnMP310:52 
Disc 4: Piece of Infinity
1. Piece of InfinityMP373:49 



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