Life Sequence
by Sylvain Lupari, Guts of Darkness
January 2007


The first Steve Roach album I heard was WESTERN SPACES, published on Innovative Communication in 1987, with Kevin Braheny and Richard Burmer. I still remember ITS effect on me, with "A Story From The Rain". Thereafter, I discovered EMPETUS, TRAVELLER, STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE, QUIET MUSIC and so on. I was deeply inTO the very atmospheric-tribal sphere of Steve Roach. In recent years, I heard that Steve Roach went back into a more sequenced musical world. Effectively, PROOF POSITIVE and STORM SURGE: LIVE AT NEARFEST were both sequencer albums (superb by the way).

Disappointed by the fact that I missed such percussive albums, I looked around Mr. Roach's garden to discover other sequences wonders; what a selection! Released in 2003, LIFE SEQUENCE is a collection of sequenced works.

With cautious steps, the sequence of "Lightness of Being" emerges carefully, a fine minimalism movement on a bass line that pulses a uniform beat. Imagine a sequence like a puddle of water, full of life, a life which beats on a superb watery mirror where reflection oscillates entirely. Like will-o'-the-wisps, keys are moving on this sequence which joyfully increases its rhythm to hide in the bewitching synthetic layers of "Living the Dream". A strange bass/percussion heaves its sonority on a delicate piano line with hypnotic intonation. The movement extends on a harmonious progression, where the notes and chords multiply in an enchanting swirl, which varies its speed, influencing the harmonic axis of its sequence. It's a superb harmonious title where Roach uses his magic touch to modulate the harmonious rotation of the leading impulse. Quite simply brilliant.

A bit more agitated, with its muted metal percussions that turn around, "Sundial" is a linear movement which floats on a beautiful dark bass line. The atmosphere is intriguing and frighten with its insistent synthetic striations which do not find a place in this movement which draws beautiful moments in the spreading out of its layers.

A breath of unknown reverberation, with varied directions, opens "Sands of Time". A weak pulse animates a strange wind procession. The beat becomes irregular, while following a scintillating line and a pad that extends its sound shade. Harmonious serpentines run furtively on the movement. And on the fourth one, it undertakes a strange migration towards unknown territories. Disordered rhythms, pulsing layers with aggressive curves, and unexpected percussion, "Sands of Time" becomes a tribal phantasmagoria of a hard mannered cosmic world. Quietly, the pulse becomes more regular, while at the same time, synthetic and spectral plaintive breathes build with immense layers with fabulous nuances, as well as forgotten percussion on the ice-field of time. A superb musical journey which astonishes every second.

Frivolous and limpid notes hop on discrete synthetic pads to stretched breath. An undulating bass movement settles and guides "Destination Horizon" in its long sequential expedition. A soft start, on wrapping layered synth which hardly moves. The movement becomes jerkier with glockenspiel sounds like percussion and a fast flowing bass, wrapped of a superb melodious layer, extending throughout the piece.

I had excellent moments listening to LIFE SEQUENCE, a superb opus with minimal waves of the early works from a young and still virgin Berlin School. It's good to hear this sonic virtuoso exploit its sonorities, to modulate its intonations and to bring futuristic tribal keys in a Jurassian sequential world. It's beautiful, it's good, and it's a must.



Life Sequence

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Life Sequence
Steve Roach
2003 Timeroom Editions 12 (CD)
Reviewed by Ambient Musings, Electroambient Space, e|i magazine, Guts of Darkness, Ping Things, Sonic Curiosity, Star's End, Synth Music Direct, Wind and Wire, Wind and Wire

A chronicle of new and classic unreleased pure electronic sequencer-driven pieces filled with beauty and emotion. Spiraling melodic sequences, floating majestic textures along with thematic and melodic contributions from guest synthesist Paul Ellis all add up to a set of music that is filled with optimism and passion from start to conclusion.

"Steve has really produced what must be the first CD that mixes sequencers and space-music, but manages to have all the atmosphere of classic cosmic music despite the fact that he uses rhythmic 'devices'. It somehow all blends seamlessly and the one simply adds to the other when, in the hands of so many others, it would be just a mix of two styles at odds with each other. A superb CD and yet another winner, for me the best one so far that combines electronic rhythms as well as the soundscaping." -- Andy Garibaldi, CD Services Scotland

From the liner notes...

LIFE SEQUENCE is a chronicle of new and personally significant unreleased pieces. Since the release of CORE and my recent purely atmospheric projects, I felt the growing urge to re-visit my electronic "roots" in analog sequencer style music. The fact that I had moved away from this sound for awhile made reconnecting with it much like finding an old friend inside myself.

While the pieces presented here were recorded over a fifteen year period, they share a similar feeling: that of embracing life's movement toward the unknown with excitement and anticipation. The first two pieces described below were created during especially significant moments of transition in my own life's sequence.

"Destination Horizon" was originally recorded live for the first Echoes Living Room Concert series in 1989. It was also the last piece created at The Timeroom in Venice, California just before for leaving for a second trip to Australia and returning to a new life in Tucson, Arizona. "Living the Dream" was recorded live in the Tucson Timeroom just before leaving the U.S. for my first European tour in 1991.

"Sands of Time" and "Sundial" are recent collaborations with electronic artist Paul Ellis. These pieces grew out of our live rehearsal sessions for a 2002 Portland concert. His appreciation of this style of music and my earlier work in this direction was an inspiration. The opening track, "Lightness of Being" created in 2003, holds for me an unbroken feeling that is connected to the early impulses that drew me to a form of music I still feel close to my heart.
 
1. Lightness of BeingMP34:56 
2. Living the DreamMP316:56 
3. SundialMP39:27 
4. Sands of TimeMP315:03 
5. Destination HorizonMP327:12 
 
-  Sands of Time LiveMP317:55 

3, 4 with Paul Ellis; "Sands of Time Live" is an Internet bonus, not on the CD, recorded live June 29, 2002 in Portland



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