Atmospheric Conditions
by Hannah M.G. Shapero
December 1999

This album is in the series of Roach's extended ambient works, which also includes the earlier QUIET MUSIC, DREAM CIRCLE, and SLOW HEAT, as well as the second CD from the WORLD'S EDGE album, "To the Threshold of Silence." Each one is a distillation of Roach's musical thought at the time, which is then stretched out into a long-playing piece designed not for concentrated listening but for setting a mood.

This newer album, ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS, is similar to his work during the period of ARTIFACTS, rather than his newer work. It is a great, expansive, reverb-drenched sound; when it is soft, it is like rustles and echoes in a vast cathedral-like space. Despite its title, I was not reminded of atmospheres or the outdoors at all; ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS evokes an inner, vaulted, perhaps even subterranean space filled with bats and birds and other invisible noisemakers, echoing endlessly through caves. Its first section builds, as Roach is fond of doing, to a "wall of sound" which then melts into non-tonal sounds reminiscent of insects (some of them borrowed from a little-known Roach piece called "Shard I" which appeared in the 1995 compilation SWARM OF DRONES). There is also an unusual influence of Robert Rich's style throughout this whole album; it's Desert Steve in an uncharacteristically wet and glurpy moment.

Sections 2 and 3 feature a melancholy flow of synthesizer drones, which later picks up a quiet synth-percussion rhythm as the piece progresses. This characteristic Roach rhythmic touch prevents the piece from getting too liquid and dreary. There is still a strong undertone of sadness and melancholy, which becomes more pervasive as the album goes on.

Sections 4 and 5 drift further into ominous and whispering drones, with hints of industrial grinds and clanks. This is some of Steve Roach's darkest ambient yet released it is certainly not the music to put on if you wish to set a happy and serene mood. It is not the quiet mystery of THE DREAM CIRCLE nor the nocturnal warmth of SLOW HEAT. If you do not listen to this at the right time, it can turn your darkened urban apartment into a cavern of dread. But if you pick just the proper moment, it can take you into a place of somber mystery and wonder.

Atmospheric Conditions

feature  feature

CD $15.00
Atmospheric Conditions
Steve Roach
1999 Timeroom Editions 4 (CD)
Reviewed by Hannah M.G. Shapero, Hans Stoeve, Gary Andrews, Dreams Word, Star's End, Supersphere

Over two years in the making, ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS melts through five intoxicating soundworlds with an intention that's pure and deep. Steve states, "as time goes on, I feel the need to create ever more potent soundworlds that maintain the opening beyond the ordinary states of consciousness we experience in our daily life, and at the same time provide an almost womb-like feeling that builds over time after numerous listenings."
1. Underground Clouds Over a Secret GrottoMP322:32 
2. In the Heart of Distant Horizons (1)MP312:58 
3. In the Heart of Distant Horizons (2)MP310:30 
4. Two Rivers Dreaming (1)MP314:59 
5. Two Rivers Dreaming (2)MP312:11 

Atmospheric Conditions Framable Print

Glossy Print out of stock
Matte Print out of stock
Atmospheric Conditions Framable Print
Stu Jenks
2003 (Print)

7" x 7" print of the ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS cover, suitable for framing. Printed using the Epson 2200 inkjet printer on 8 1/2" x 11" Archival Matte or Semi-Gloss paper, using seven-color UltraChrome archival inks. These prints rival photo-lab quality, and the specs rate a fade-free image for at least 50 years. Each print is signed by photographer Stu Jenks, and shipped rolled.

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