Places Beyond: The Lost Pieces 4
by Bill Binkelman, Wind and Wire
August 2005


Rather than dissect the origins of this fine selection of music from Steve Roach (if you're interested, the liner notes goes into vast detail about how/why these qualify as "lost" pieces of music), I'll stick to critiquing this album (especially since my time is so short what with my impending leave of absence). From that standpoint, i.e. the merits of this CD, I can sum it up by saying this would make a great place to start if you have only recently discovered Steve Roach or are unfamiliar with his more recent work (for example, if all you own is DREAMTIME RETURN, DESERT SOLITAIRE, or STORMWARNING). PLACES BEYOND: THE LOST PIECES 4 clearly illustrates how Roach has evolved into the proverbial multi-headed hydra of ambient and electronic music, capable of producing solid work in any one of several subgenres. Completists (you know the type, they have at between ten to twenty Roach albums already) should be forewarned that, while the music on this recording is uniformly excellent, nothing is so dramatically different that it will jolt the synapses of your brain. That notwithstanding, PLACES BEYOND is a damn tasty melange of both floating and beat-driven ambient/electronic music.

"Distant Signals" starts things off with a slice of serene drifting spacemusic, as gentle washes of warm reverberations cruise effortlessly, sometimes ensconced in a soothing layer of subtly retro keyboards (a'la Michael Stearns, but less dramatic). "Trancefusion" visits the throbbing cyber-organic beats of fractal beat EM that Roach explored with Vir Unis on Blood Machine. I particularly like the integration of pleasantly eerie swirling tones that encircle the percolating rhythms, as well the occasional "thump" of a bass note, as if a single cybernetic neuron was firing at random. "Serpent's Birth," another fractal groove piece, manages to instill an earthy sensuality amidst the electronic pulses and crackling textures, probably through the use of percussion that combines fractalism with a quasi-tribal quality. This song gathers a head of steam and cooks up a storm of frenetic energy by the midpoint, only to unwind like an uncoiling serpent of the song's title by the conclusion. All you need to know about "Resolution Point" is how it reminds me of Soma which is one of my favorite ethno-tribal/ambient recordings of all time (also, Byron Metcalf contributes some sound sources to this cut, which should be endorsement enough).

That's details on the first half of the CD, folks. There are four more tracks here, including "Slow Rapture" which will thrill Roach's drone-fans, although I find Steve's other subgenres much more intriguing personally. "Contained... Sustained" while superficially drone-related, is more of a classic spacemusic piece than a pure drone, with its enveloping waves of warm electronic bliss.

Anyway, there ya have it. Steve Roach certainly doesn't need endorsement from me or anyone else at this stage in his career, so you can just imagine how good I consider this album is or I wouldn't even bother reviewing it. By that I mean, most people know how proficient and talented this guy is, so my adding my voice to the chorus underlines how terrific one of his albums must be, and trust me, it is. Again, if you've got most of his output, this may (or may not) be redundant; but if you've only got a handful of this man's work, don't "lose" these pieces!


Places Beyond: The Lost Pieces 4

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Places Beyond: The Lost Pieces 4
Steve Roach
2004 Timeroom Editions 14 (CD)
Reviewed by e|i magazine, Synthtopia, Wind and Wire

With this 4th edition of the Lost Pieces series at hand, it's clear more than ever that these unique releases seem to have a curious way of taking on an interconnected life of their own. An undercurrent of congruency between the pieces is consistently apparent in these projects and in this release, even though the pieces were created over a longer span of time and under unique and seemingly disparate situations. As a starting point, I will draw from a large pool of unreleased and lost tracks. It's like shuffling through a large box of puzzle pieces looking for the shapes and colors from which to begin telling a particular story that I'm discovering along the way. It's very much a mosaic, formed out of the richness that each piece or soundworld passage holds on its own. From there the combined resonance of the pieces starts to take over and fully reveals itself as a whole. Making the outcome more than simply a collection of pieces, this kind of process results in a structure, theme, and sonic storyline that could not be arrived at through other routes traveled on a tighter timeframe with specific intentions. -- Steve Roach, November 2004

Distant Signals (1999) -- This piece was originally created during the time of the LIGHT FANTASTIC project. It was eventually released on a Various Artists collection on the Groove label from The Netherlands. Strangely the finished CD had a problem with the duplication master and this track was cut off at mid-point. It's all here now.

Trancefusion (2000) -- I created this piece in the Timeroom around the time of the BLOOD MACHINE release with Vir Unis. It's a weave of fractal grooves, short rhythmic elements blended to create a longer complex rhythmical Structure. It first appeared on the Electric Body video release and on a limited-run compilation CD through Sequences magazine in the UK. Versions were also performed live around this time.

Serpent's Birth (2000) -- Another piece from around the time of BLOOD MACHINE with Vir Unis. We recorded a large collection of pieces that never made it onto the final release because of the time constraints and final shape of the release.

Resolution Point (1999) -- This was a piece recorded especially for a multi-artist compilation titled CONVERGENT EVOLUTION on the now defunct Greenhouse Music label. Part of the hybrid groove was created with some rhythmic source elements from Byron Metcalf.

Calm Before the Storm (2000) -- This was recorded live with Vidna Obmana at his studio in Belgium as we were preparing to perform at the 2000 E-Live Festival in the Netherlands.

Slow Rapture (1997) -- A post THE MAGNIFICENT VOID space piece created for THE AMBIENT ECLIPSE, a multi-artist compilation on the now-expired Mirage label.

Contained... Sustained (1999/2000) -- This is a meld of two desert impressions, the first from around the time of THE AMBIENT EXPANSE and the second part from sometime after CORE.

Light of Day (2001) -- The exact origin of this lost piece is unknown, as it was found unmarked on one of many CD-R spools from over a 4-year period. I have a vague memory of the original space being created around the time of the CORE release, then later expanded upon around the MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES project. A few final brush strokes were added just before mastering in October 2004.
 
1. Distant SignalsMP37:04 
2. TrancefusionMP312:57 
3. Serpent's BirthMP37:49 
4. Resolution PointMP311:58 
5. Calm Before the StormMP310:10 
6. Slow RaptureMP37:29 
7. Contained... SustainedMP35:30 
8. Light of DayMP39:35 

2, 3 with Vir Unis; 5 with Vidna Obmana



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