Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces
The much-anticipated Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces four-disc set is here and shipping now. Please see our store for ordering options and several reviews on this epic release of pure soundworld bliss.

Four-Disc Set
four-disc set
"Greetings from the Timeroom,

"I have just made it back to solid ground with the completion of Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces in hand. Since New Year's Eve 2003, I've been churning away in the Timeroom nearly every night into the early morning dawn, navigating through deep currents, going as far as I can into this place that only the music can speak of, documenting my travels along the way. The music slowly evolved into a four-CD experience, presented as a set on Projekt. The inspiration for Mystic Chords took hold in 1996 with the momentum continuing to build over the years, reaching its culmination in a marathon Timeroom vigil that created many new pieces and all of disc one during the first two months of 2003.

"Alongside the recorded and released work of the last six years, an ongoing interconnected undercurrent of atmospheres seemed to keep pointing the way. This project represents a deeper inquiry into the pure, non-rhythmic soundworld expressions that have always been so compelling to me. These are the spaces I would always return home to create after completing other projects and concerts. Structures From Silence, Quiet Music, Dreamtime Return, "To the Threshold of Silence" (World's Edge disc 2), The Dream Circle, The Magnificent Void, Streams & Currents, Darkest Before Dawn... all are part of the interconnected spirals of sound that have led me to Mystic Chords. Subtle, complex, highly personal nonverbal epiphanies fed the process as did my responses to the current stirrings of life on this planet."

Steve Roach
March 3, 2003

Disc 1: Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces

... The sacred and divine aspects of sound are the heart and soul of these five innerconnected pieces.

Disc 2: Labyrinth

... The path through the labyrinth is one of choices and consequences. These nine soundworlds were drawn from the metaphor of the labyrinth and the passing from one ring to the next, reaching the center.
Disc 3: Recent Future

... Time, memory, reflection, future dreamings and the places in between are the broth of life from which these pieces are poured.

Disc 4: Piece of Infinity

... It's always there, this piece of infinity. A single longform space.

what people are saying about Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces

With Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces, Steve Roach has created an ambient masterpiece: a varied collection of totally absorbing, immersive soundworlds, clearly a milestone in electronic music. As with many of his earlier albums (including Structures From Silence), Roach created a set of slowly unfolding compositions that feel organic, infinite, jewel-like – but this time with an expanded harmonic palette.

The shifting tone colors of Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces may prove to be Roach's ultimate painting-in-sound to date.

Steve Davis, Associate Producer of "Music From the Hearts of Space" and host of "Neptune Currents", KKUP-FM (Santa Clara, CA)

Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces is truly among the creme de la creme of Steve’s work. It is an astonishing series of recordings. At times I found myself facing the darkest of the dark in the collective unconscious. Just as I thought I had reached the edge of where I could go in my voyaging, a tonal shift would occur and carry me into a delicious and heart-achingly beautiful space of unparalleled hope and faith. These recordings are both initiatory, and a veritable soul-retrieval in this time of widespread soul loss. In essence, this is healing sound.

Arranged as a collection of four discs: "Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces", "Labyrinth", "Recent Future", and "Piece of Infinity", each disc is a stand-alone musicscape experience. Yet, as a full collection Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces is nothing short of initiation, each disc building upon the energy of the previous one, opening out into vast domains and vistas, carrying us deep into subterranean realms of luminosity.

As a listener you will be guided through a potent inward journey of four soundworlds, each of which is rich, powerful, and distinct, yet woven together Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces becomes a profound sonic voyage of purification, gestation, birth, and culmination. On such a voyage we encounter the archetypal themes of death and rebirth, creation and transformation, the moist domains of inner earth, and the spinning fractal cathedrals of the celestial worlds beyond. There is an expression that says "the soul is a feathered thing." Imbued with ancient memory, while simultaneously blazing new trails into the uncharted hinterlands of mind and space, Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces is where the feathered-soul finds her wind.

If this is your first exposure to the genius of soundcurrent maestro Steve Roach, prepare yourself for a stirring ride – a series of memorable visits to parallel worlds; a multi-textured mosaic of images, sensations, and quickening feelings. These recordings are not mere "tunes" or "songs." Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces is a vibrant topography, a map leading us to the dwelling places of sentient and divine energy.

Good Journeys.
Frank MacEowen, author of The Mist-Filled Path and The Spiral of Memory & Belonging

Abandoning all conventional notions of music as melody, harmony and rhythm, Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces allows you almost five blissful hours on the high frontier between deep listening music and the spirituality of pure sound.

Immerse yourself in this utterly absorbing, continuously evolving world of spatial tone color: the more you give to it, the more it rewards.

Stephen Hill, Hearts of Space

Delving as deep into the molecules of the silicon diodes as he can, Steve Roach again does the impossible - arm in arm, hand in hand, exorcising dormant ghosts out of his machines, he exposes the spiritual core where impression and expression morph into pure, dazzling sensation. Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces begs immersion into solipsism, reveals immense places brimming with unspeakable spectacle, smited by an epoch-spanning hand encrusted with ash from the big bang. Out of slowly irising envelopes, twisting and unfurling like jet contrails dissipating into a moist, blackening sky, this is music of brobdingnagian gestures, a cinematic epic for the ear. In his grand, monastic nature, Roach scatters all notions of ambient to the four winds, leaving in its wake what must be the sounds of the temporal void itself, escaping with subtle velocity. It is to gape in awe.

Darren Bergstein, e|i Magazine

A profound and majestic experience in silence and the sacredness of sound!

Steve Roach's new opus, Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces represents or should I rather say, is the essence of Steve's music, a powerful statement of a human being on a relentless quest to the soul. From Now to All is Now; Structures From Silence to Darkest Before Dawn through Dreamtime Return, The Magnificent Void and Streams & Currents; from Empetus to Light Fantastic to Core; World's Edge to Origins/Artifacts to The Serpent's Lair, and On This Planet to Trance Spirits, not to say the least of his most intimate collaborations with Vidna Obmana, from Well of Souls to InnerZone, Steve's ceaseless soundquest slowly but surely creates a deep, amazing and unique soundworld, a mind-altering visionary sonic landscape where time and space disappear, stripping away the unessential to reveal an eternal present, a piece of infinity!

This album is a quantum leap for Steve, the turning point where the maze he previously used as a metaphor of his own soundquest manifests itself into an ascending spiral of sound and life, an intimate journey leading you to the center. (By the way, a first glimpse of this spiral was depicted on the cover image of Streams & Currents!) This marks not only a new chapter in his music, but a totally new level, leading to new territories and deeper innerzones.

Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces tunes our soul to the sound of the universe. Through the five hours of this album, the music becomes an organic, almost physical space, in a subtle yet perceived dimension. When the music is over, the silence is pregnant with life, with an energy field you can almost touch. More than listening to the music, surrender yourself and "be the sound." It may reveal itself as the most poignant musical experience you will ever live!

I've been using Steve's music in Inerson's workshops for the last 10 years. I have seen powerful catharsis and profound transformations in people. His music creates a space for one to be and feel whole, a place of healing in which one learns to break the illusion of being fragmented. As many would comment, "it opens a door within ourselves that not only shuts itself after you've crossed its threshold, but simply disappears behind, leading you to follow the call towards your soul within the sound." Once one surrenders to its resonance, one finds the courage and determination to travel the path of profound transformation unfolding ahead, what Steve calls "the labyrinth of choices and consequences".

Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces is a milestone, a most important contribution to the contemplative music repertoire. It is an album that will still strongly resonate 25 years from now. Call it perennial music.

Gilles Bédard, Montreal, from Inerson: Toward an Integral Awareness Through Music

in search of the mystic chord by darren bergstein

The doors of perception. Leaping to mind immediately: Huxley and his strategic metaphors, the last vestiges of aberrant psychological states hovering in a fading '60s twilight zone, awry interpretations of art viewed through rose-colored glasses, arcane primitives sharing space with surrealist renegades. And through all these doors lies in wait Steve Roach, the guide for those looking to be plunged into wells of lost souls, into uncertain regions and across mystic lands.

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Roach has erected these many doors and crossed their thresholds in search of new ones for more than 20 years now. From his humble beginnings where the chilly Germanic sheen of Klaus Schulze shared equal influence with the raging desert environs of southern California (and later, Arizona), Roach has consistently eked out a definitive niche in the electronic music community, sidestepping misinformed pigeonholers desperate to brandish his music 'new age,' breaking free of the Teutonic chains of yesteryear and creating a formidable catalogue of sonic art lesser talents can only pray to aspire to.

Germanic proclivities notwithstanding – the germ of which is found in such early Roach documents as Empetus, Now/Traveler, and the live Stormwarning, records whose towering Escher-like mosaics bring new meaning to the concept of sequencer music – Roach's body of work is ultimately informed by his deep admiration and obsession with the stark allure of the Sonoran desert landscape where he makes his home. Point of fact, he has always been galvanized by primitive regions and the nomads which trek across their unforgiving and mysterious environs, areas of the earth tarred by an aeons-old brush redolent with rugged, arid beauty and a solipsistic melancholy. His early classic Dreamtime Return, a benchmark in American electronic music as pivotal as Eno's On Land and Jon Hassell's Power Spot, was an aural sieve through which flowed the spiritual hues of the Aborigines' rich ancestry and contemporary digital musicmaking technology, the result a hybridization of human sound design writ puzzlingly organic via the synthesizer matrix.

Dreamtime Return remains an archetypal peak in his back catalogue, but rather than resting on his laurels, Roach has ardently, fervently, passionately continued to cultivate his art. His knack for creating intense, deeply involved soundworlds has arisen both from his mooring to time-blasted lands and the reinterpretations of his earthly muse in a live setting. Throughout the many venues playing host to his magnetic creations - from volcanic craters in Mexico and hallowed churches in Philadelphia to minimalist art galleries and the pristine airs of concert halls - Roach works in a dynamic, ever-shifting realm that allows entrance of a vast multitude of shapes and configurations. Those doors of perception he opens for himself, and the doors he beckons his listeners to enter, exist because of ideas and images that erupt not just from the studio but, as powerfully, out of the world's stages, those moments in real-time when the act of performing yields equal parts myth and mistakes. These elements often provide the necessary psychic blueprint that Roach uses to catapult the audience headfirst into dimensions of writhing atmospheres, storming drones and rhythmic turbulence.

In his music, Roach makes a certain abject requirement of the listener, a requirement that is no less important he imparts it on himself, because to him the very politics of perception are fascinating. And that requirement translates into the act of deep listening. From the tribal labyrinths of his recent collaboration with Byron Metcalf, the sinuous Serpent's Lair (Projekt), and his mind-meld triumvirate fusing percussionist Jeff Fayman with crimson guitarist king Robert Fripp on Trance Spirits (Projekt), to the personal and ruminative climes of Core (released on his own Timeroom Editions label) and Streams & Currents (Projekt), the music demands you reorient your thinking, shift your perspective, and not just allow yourself to be wholly focused as wholly immersed. The very nature of Roach's music, especially the more minimal, ambient sojourns to be found on Midnight Moon (Projekt) and the aforementioned Streams (not to forget his former, utterly required ambient bulwarks Structures From Silence and Quiet Music) makes it necessary to suspend your other senses while you connect to his quiescent tones, and as you do so, time itself recedes into the horizon.

Having now worked his muse for a considerable time, plying his craft with intelligence, indomitable spirit and the drive to create that only a true artist possesses, the many styles and substances that imbibe Roach's art remain intertwined, yet have also migrated into a number of distinct areas. Rituals burnished and ancient continue to creep up in his collaborations with Vidna Obmana and Roger King, and he has, perhaps more critically, recently discovered the nuance of the guitar, although that instrument's over-inflected ingredients are broadly reconstructed in the Roach milieu. But the tenor of the times and his omnipresent investigation of all things mythic and primeval have brought him to a specific space at the dawning years of the new millennium. His latest Timeroom Editions epic, Darkest Before Dawn, is the yin to Quiet Music's yang, the bastard offspring of Structures From Silence, a near-sepulchral venture into endless voids and passages bereft of spatiality, infinity rendered corporeal. It is ambient music ripped from the fabric of spacetime to reveal the residual quiet of the vacuum, a place that is universe-endless, foreboding, unrelenting, but yet perversely compelling. It is music that even in its most skeletal state reveals the emotional heart that resides at the core of Roach's oeuvre, music of subtle moves, born out of expansive motions...

...which, in ringing the bell for the commencement of 2003, bangs the gong for the next stage in his evolutionary quarter. No, strike that - the ongoing evolution built on a momentum more than a few years in the making, a spacious, intense sound that when experienced melts away to reveal the essential, internal habitue Roach revels in. This third year of the aughts will bring us the multiple CD release Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces, the title of which speaks volumes as to where Roach has been, where he finds himself today, and where he is proceeding tomorrow. He reveals that Mystic Chords has been harnessed through a battery of live work, live mixing, spontaneous creation and improvisational sound generating; pieces that came into form fairly quickly and not overworked or overobsessed upon. That being said, Roach has emphasized that these new longform works have been carved and shaped over larger timespans as well; in the same painterly fashion he has always worked since Mystic Chords was first conceived. In fact, under the conditions he usually finds himself in - the microfocus of his studio or the intense zone of the live setting - his approaches spring from a biological need to enter and nhabit this pronounced physical space, a space that can often feel claustrophobic; however, the byproduct of such a mental confinement often yields an equalization in his mind and muse, a sudden release that brings forth a supernova of stunning audiovisual colors.

Mystic Chords & Sacred SpacesMystic Chords & Sacred Spaces may well validate the notion of the contemporary electronic musician as sound painter and sound designer, working with a limitless palette of sonic hues, color swatches and tonal mixtures. As the electronic musician of today is barraged by a virtual onslaught of laptop software and still-emerging digital interfaces, sound synthesis continues to attain new levels of sophistication and inexhaustibility. Naturally, in the right hands even black and white retains its virtues-light and perceptions cast in shifting shades of grey can forever reveal the starkness contained on either side of the color spectrum. Roach, understanding these chromatic gestures, has frequently demonstrated the old maxim that less is more, but the colors he chooses to augment his creations with have the unnerving ability to dig deep into your soul. It is music that is as effecting as it is effective.

The dynamic realms of Roach's pieces never sit in one place too long, but it seems to be a place he returns to time and time again, spaces that seemingly go on forever; the spaces that through a certain combination of notes creates a chord that acts like a key to a door, a door of possibilities, and (yes) perceptions. If Roach's past recordings are any indication at all of the variegated paths he's consistently explored, Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces might belie the fact that the doors of perception are still only slightly ajar. Step over the threshold and see what's inside.

Darren Bergstein is publisher and editor of e|i Magazine, the foremost publication covering electronic, experimental, avante-garde and unclassifiable music from the world over.

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