by Matt Rowe, MusicTAP
Originally released in 1986, this 2-CD reissue of the single-disc EMPETUS by legendary US ambient artist Steve Roach comes with a bonus disc of tracks tied in to the period in which Empteus was created. Steve Roach, who has a huge catalog of cutting-edge synth albums, has been at the forefront of new technology for decades. Where many artists have produced and then fallen out of fashion, as did many of the German artists (Tangerine Dream, Peter Baumann, Klaus Schulze), or those that simply produced few complete works (Michael Hoenig), Steve Roach has continued to fulfill ambient fans with various pathways of inventive sounds.
EMPETUS takes complete pages from the magnificent trance-works by many of those previously mentioned artists. But Roach is one of the masters, and his album is a dead-on classic that should be in every library right next to those German masters of electronic synth and sequencers and their respected albums. Fans of the genre, and particularly fans of this German-dominated style, will recognize the sound. They will also recognize the creative talents that went into its formation. Originally released on Fortuna Records, as were many of Roach’s early works, Roach has recently recovered the publishing rights and has elected to revisit this album. The new bonus CD is referred to as "The Early Years" and, as such, provides two rhythmic sequencer sets originally recorded in 1982. The first is a 46-minute absorption piece recorded with Thomas Ronkin, a classically-trained pianist whose own works and explorations mimic the interests of Steve Roach. The piece is called "Harmonia Mundi" and is followed by a 26-minute composition called "Release". While it is great to have these additional sets, it is the EMPETUS CD that is the real prize here.
Fans of those early German synth maestros will marvel at the classic feel that this album generates. EMPETUS is not to be missed.