by Matt Rowe, MusicTAP
In decades past, a band known as Tangerine Dream created incredible suites of music unveiled as albums, many of which are considered classic to this day. Their innovative and synthesized compositions laid the groundwork for what is now known as ambient music. They left behind Stratosfear, Phaedra, Alpha Centauri, Ricochet, even the fantastic soundtrack to Sorcerer. They explored further the limits of the developing genre further with classic albums like Cyclone, and Force Majeure before becoming too saccharine for die-hard fans' musical ears.
Steve Roach is perhaps the one significant ambient artist that has explored the Tangerine Dream template, modifying along the way to great success. His expanded layering has created a mass of excellent albums, many that can put a finger directly on the pulse of the Tangerine Dream legacy.
His latest Projekt release, DESTINATION BEYOND, is a single composition clocking in at 71+ minutes. It begins softly before developing into a pulsing grand darkness that is eerie yet inviting. It lures you into a complete, uninterrupted span of mental "traveling discoveries" reminiscent of not only Tangerine Dream's Sorcerer, but also of Stratosfear (at points).
Steve Roach has thematically called this album a soundtrack of forward movement. He calls it a "magnetic pull and drive towards the point on the horizon, towards the destination beyond". It becomes an unreachable "point" always "just ahead" therefore always urging forward, much like our lives. The tone of the music consistently grows darker with the hint of others nearby, yet never seen. The urgency grows, the push towards what is at the end relentless yet unrevealing. There is a fearful majesty in the music. But there is also an extended stretch of time where you're gazing into the limitless night skies, contemplating the next unknown path before beginning again. The aural journey of DESTINATION BEYOND is a pure one, quite enjoyable for its generously extended and uninterrupted allotment of time.
If one can find fault with Roach's burgeoning catalogue, it is with the fact that his prolific talents find their expression on too many albums, too quickly. We barely get a chance to absorb one release and he has another in our hands not too much later. This makes it difficult for fans to point to one release (or a number of releases) and deem then classic. We simply don't get the time to "live" with them like we lived with the brilliant Stratosfear. Regardless, Roach can easily transcend the greatness of Tangerine Dream. He has all of the elements within the depths of his compositions. DESTINATION BEYOND could become a memorable classic in the haunting template of Tangerine Dream.