by Rik Maclean, Ping Things
Steve Roach is an artist who creates an environment for his listeners, self-contained worlds that exist entirely within the confines of his music. With his latest, FEVER DREAMS, Roach has made a disc filled with beautiful and mystical places, a hyper reality akin to the most intense of reveries. A collection of four long-form pieces, FEVER DREAMS brings to mind the desert that has inspired so much of Roach's work, filled with a ritual and mysticism that speaks to our souls.
"Wicked Dream" opens the album with shakers and light percussion conjuring images of vast spaces, wide open terrains made bright in the hot sun of high noon. Deep bass drones pass through the soundscape like clouds moving across a clear blue sky made hazy by desert heat. Additional textures drift pass, landmarks along the horizon. A sense of something mysterious and otherworldy.
In contrast "Fever Pulse" brings to mind a night time ritual, surging forward with rolling percussion and drifting pads flying by like spirits awakened by unheard voices. Metallic tones rise and fall in irregular intervals interspersed with spiralling sounds that recall the twinkling of stars. A sense of ceremony, of shared communal magic. You can't help but feel the pulse in this piece.
Track three, "Tantra Mantra" starts subtly with fluid tones and minimal beats, slowly gaining in voice, climbing in strength. Hand percussion gives way to deeper, more bass driven drumming, hypnotizing, primal. Subtle variation drifts through it's nearly thirty-minute length, enrapturing the listener in a swirling spiral. Beautiful.
"Moved Beyond" closes the disc with powerful percussion, hypnotic pads ascending and descending. The sounds of wind through chasms, canyons, the moon passing through the night sky marking the passing of midnight and beyond. And slowly, like the dreams of the disc's title, the intensity lessens until all that's left is a vivid memory of a journey to strange lands.
FEVER DREAMS is quite simply an astounding piece of music, an excursion to beautiful soundworlds, to exciting new vistas. Steve Roach is an artist who creates an environment for his listeners, and with this release he has made one of his most beguiling and enticing environments yet. Highly recommended.