Light Fantastic



"On this project, I set out to create a perfect blend of searing, light-filled Soundworlds of relentless beauty, then merge them with a constantly-shifting interplay of "Mandala Grooves" that never overwhelm the Atmospheres. For me, LIGHT FANTASTIC is the answer to the question of balance between the two dynamic elements in my music that are always calling me deeper. It's also a fitting metaphor in day-to-day life as well; the motion of momentum and the call to repose. I feel like this one came together in all the right ways, with the build towards "Touch the Pearl", "Realm of Refraction" and "The Luminous Return" expressing a quality of emotions that I have been reaching towards for years.

"After years of being absorbed in the sensation of light and its interplay with the senses, I began having a series of epiphanies, really focusing on the atmospheric side of the music again. I wanted to design sounds that possessed a searing yet serene quality, sounds that gave off a laser-like illumination that at times seemed to emanate from the inside outwards. It has a certain amount to do with the non-stop interplay of light that happens around us in the desert, to which I've trained myself to pay attention. It's also about the culmination of living in these soundworlds over the years, and in a way this has created its own inner landscape and quality of 'light' that I was drawing from for this music. At the same time, I wanted to have these soundworlds propelled by what I kept referring to as a mandala of grooves, never becoming too heavy or overpowering in combination with the soundworlds."

LIGHT FANTASTIC does much to subvert one's expectations of musical structure, while remaining unabashedly beautiful throughout. Roach's soundworlds have never sounded more rich and full of light. On the other hand, the complexity of the 'fractal grooves' (Roach's and Vir Unis's term is a pointed reference to the patterns-within-patterns that are central to chaos theory in physics) allows the hybrid percussion to assume what would be the melodic content of a given piece. The rhythms are as willful and intricate as an African drumming group or drum 'n' bass track, continually morphing from one pattern into another, describing animated moiré patterns in sound. After a successful first collaboration, Steve enlisted Vir Unis to help with the mandala groove concept. Also featured is long-time collaborator Vidna Obmana providing sample sources from the Fujara, a Hungarian overtone flute. Tucson-based Stefan Gordon's Indian stringed drone instrument, the Tambura, was presented in a switching of musical roles: Gordon soloed over a rich harmonic synth drone, which in turn took the place of the Tambura in its traditional role.

Roach elaborates: "If you go back to my very first recordings in '82 and '83, a lot of these elements were already there in place, but limited on a basic level by my understanding, skill and the technology available at that time. I have always been caught by hypnotic, trance-giving rhythmic patterns. Early on, I was inspired by the German school of electronics to this end, where the patterns would be completely melodic, repeating rows of brief notes as might be heard on recordings by [German '70's synthesists] Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream or Michael Hoenig, and also in the work of [pioneering American minimalists] Terry Riley, Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Their work was certainly an inspiration in my formative years, and these roots along with my more recent sequential, groove experiments with ON THIS PLANET and with Vir Unis on BODY ELECTRIC, have helped to define the 'mandala-groove' concept that came to life on LIGHT FANTASTIC."

"Late last year I completed the retrospective double CD; I'd gone through all that material and thought a lot about where I was at this point in time, both in my life and my career, as well as the evolution of electronic based music that I love. Also, the big timeclock is getting ready to turn over, which has an undeniable impact, regardless of how cynical we might want to be about it. All these influences helped raise the bar another notch, in terms of what I felt I could accomplish with my next project, and how I could locate a new form of potency in the music. The result was LIGHT FANTASTIC, and I feel this recording is a personal high point in my creative and personal life up to now, one for leaving this century with on a beautiful clear ray of sound."

Light Fantastic

September 21, 1999

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