Space and Time
by John Shanahan
If you're a fan of Steve Roach, listening to his latest release, the sampler SPACE AND TIME: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SOUNDWORLDS OF STEVE ROACH is like getting together with friends you haven't seen in a while. It's good to see them, good memories come flooding back, and some of them look better than you remember. And if you don't happen to own everything this prolific artist has put out, those friends bring some of their friends; good-looking acquaintances who you immediately get along with and want to find out more about.
Pulling pieces from 13 different albums and seamlessly melding them into a 74-minute whole, SPACE AND TIME makes either a perfect introduction, as the subtitle suggests, or a delicious retrospective for seasoned listeners. Drawing a continuous line through rhythmic tribal works such as "Early Dawn" from EARLY MAN and "The Calling" from TRANCE SPIRITS to soft atmospheric swells such as "Almost Touching" from STREAMS & CURRENTS and the closing track "Nameless" from 2003's MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES, the CD is less of a listen than a journey -- and one that bears going on again and again. Given the range of styles and impressions presented, I can't see how this wouldn't readily hook the curious newcomer.
For the seasoned Roachian traveler, however, the brevity of the individual pieces can be a touch maddening. Outside of the 12-minute slice from STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE and the 7-minute peek at the upcoming FEVER DREAMS (more on that in a moment), four and a half minutes is the most we get of any single track. That's tough to take if, like me, you've got a personal favorite listed here -- "A Circular Ceremony" from DREAMTIME RETURN -- and just as you're sliding into it, it fades out. But the blending is so smooth, and each piece moves so gently and organically one to the next, the irritation quickly fades and we're back on the journey.
The real draw for the veteran is "Fever Glimpse," the sneak preview of FEVER DREAMS. By itself well worth the $4.98 sticker price on this CD, "Glimpse" pulls the drum-based intensity of TRANCE SPIRITS into the dark swirls of INNERZONE intermittently laced with an insistent bass riff (on guitar at some points?). Call it deep funk, tribal groove... whatever you call it, it does exactly what Roach intends -- whets the slavering appetite for this upcoming full-length release.
Whether you buy this for yourself to add an interesting blended work to your collection, or for a friend who hasn't quite figured out what the big deal about Steve Roach is, SPACE AND TIME is an offer you shouldn't pass up.