by Rik Maclean, Ping Things
Long-form ambience is a difficult art form to create, especially when an artist aspires to make a single track span the full length of a disc. Maintaining a theme while developing and expanding on that theme in new and interesting ways over the course of 60+ minutes is a challenge that few artists are willing to try.
We're very lucky then that Steve Roach has taken the challenge, and with his release IMMERSION: TWO he has once again proven his mastery of many forms and styles of music. Over the length of the disc's 73 minutes, Roach has created a single track of great beauty and nuance that is both engaging and enveloping, and a testimony to his ability to create living soundscapes.
IMMERSION: TWO begins with a slowly shifting drone cycle which builds from a single point, creeping up the soundfield until the listener becomes surrounded by its charms. Sounds rise up out of the drone, points of tone that stay for just a second and then fade. A metal scrape soon begins, adding a sense of physical space and boundary to the proceedings, almost (but not quite) defining the environment of the work.
As the track progresses, the listener is drawn further into the space by way of a greater sense of movement within the sonic parameters set earlier. There is almost a feeling that the environment itself is being cast along, moved in a contained area through different locations. As time passes, a deeper drone tone is introduced, humming along, suggesting waves, signalling a change in direction of the track. It rises in sound and volume without overtaking the base tones of the song, creating a new feeling of movement, a new path for the listener to explore.
Over the course of the disc Roach successfully creates a living environment that breathes and moves along with the listener, maintaining a sense of space while simultaneously elaborating and developing that space. It's a fascinating experience, and further proof of Roach's talents as a soundscape artist. Truly wonderful and engaging work from a master of the genre.