Different Spokes

Publication: Sports Illustrated

Clay pots. Seed pods. Teflon coated cooking skillets. These are some of the odd [instru]ments musician Steve Roach employs to create a swirling, unsettling sound known as techno-tribal. On his recent CD, Artifacts, Roach combines ocarinas, Austrailian didgeridoos and floating sythesizer chords with the latest instrument in his percussive arsenal: the wheel of a Cannondale Super V mountain bike. By plucking the spinning spokes with his fingernails, Roach produces a resonating groan that he likens to “dozens of metal rods falling down and splaying out on a cement floor.”

The 40-year-old Roach, who finished fifth in the veteran men’s class of this year’s eight-race Arizona Cannondale Cup series, was fixing a flat in the Sonora Desert when he got the idea to mike his bike. He says that on future recordings he may fill up the bike’s hollow frame with sand and popcorn kernals and rattle it like a South American rain stick. “I’m not eager to dismantle a $3,000 bike,” the gregarious gearhead says, “though on certain days I feel as if I should be playing it instead of riding it.”

Steve Roach

Steve Roach is a leading American pioneer in the evolution of ambient/electronic music, helping shape it into what it is today. His career spans four decades, with a massive catalog of landmark recordings including Structures from Silence, Dreamtime Return and Mystic Chords and Sacred Spaces. Drawing from a vast, unique and deeply personal authenticity, his albums are fueled by the momentum of a lifetime dedicated to the soundcurrent. Roach is an artist operating at the pinnacle of his artform, driven by a passion and unbroken focus enhancing the emotive, soul-stirring depth of his music.