Streams & Currents
by Ben Kettlewell, Alternate Music Press
Steve Roach creates an insidous organic sonic plasma that doesn't so much instill meditative states as absorb you into them in the six compositions that comprise STREAMS & CURRENTS. Continuing in the direction begun on his best-selling disc, MIDNIGHT MOON
(Projekt 2000), Steve uses treated guitars and looping devices to create sonic bits of flotsam, sending them out into space and then reintegrating them into an electrifying bold new entity. For those accustomed to Roach's glaciated formations and the continued evolution of ambient music, and his ingenious looping and effects processing, the album becomes required listening on the learning curve. As its title would suggest, STREAMS & CURRENTS is a recording of transcendent beauty. It grew out of deeply inspired late night sessions between late August and Mid-September 2001. In his own words, Steve has these words to describe his new album, "Of my pieces, I feel these are perhaps the most intimate and directly expressive of 'being in the present moment.' As the CD evolves, a sense of quiet seems to engulf the tracks progressively; it is something I have never quite captured before in this way."
And luckily for the listener, Steve caught each moment of this sound oddessey in a visionary recording, creating a musical journey that's as mystical and subtle as its title, where Roach stirs the primitive spirit with its improvisational grace.
The instrumentation consists of two electric guitars (Stratocaster and Baritone Guitar), Ebow, extensive live looping and sound processing gear along with 'mantra beat', a percussion loop, on one piece. According to Steve, its about focusing on minimal-essential technology to bring out the maximum opportunity for subdued emotive expression. Roach is not a man to employ a lot of notes, and he is extremely adept at finding the space between the notes and using this silence to best effect. Caught "on the fly", each piece on the disc fits together like a completed puzzle of interlocking parts, seamlessly viewed as a canvas of creativity; magical, deep and inspired.
|Streams & Currents|
2001 Projekt PRO128 (CD)
Reviewed by Alternate Music Press, Alternative Press, amazon.com, Ambient Visions, AmbiEntrance, EMR Electronic Music Reviews, Ink 19, New Times L.A., Sonic Curiosity, StarVox, Tower Pulse!, Tower Records epulse
STREAMS & CURRENTS creates a sanctuary that is rarely found in today's music. The perfect atmosphere for contemplation and dreaming with eyes open, imbued with an ephemeral quality that seems to linger at the edge of conscious perception, creating an introspective, enveloping flow of mood-altering pieces. The album progresses into deeper, darker, warmer, and quieter zones, towards a beautiful submerged ending.
Do not expect jangly chords or ripping riffs, however, for Roach has filtered this guitarwork through a series of sound processors, rendering the strings into languid soundscapes that undulate timelessly through the air. These delicate tonalities drift like somber dust motes on aerial currents, guided into elongated harmonies by Roach's masterful ability to derive structure from sounds that teeter on the brink of silence.
For all its passive qualities, this music possesses an undercurrent of vitality. These calming aural moods are dense with seemingly endless textures and soothing drones, but their softness is subtly alive with a subdued agitation accountable to their guitar origins. While "pure" electronics display an unearthly resonance, in Roach's expert hands the guitar proves itself to be just as capable of filling the air with ethereal sound.
Where others may be satisfied to compile passages of raw scrapings and dreamy strumming, Roach treats the output of his guitars like an assortment of airborne mists, guiding these sonic vapors into introspective currents whose elegant contortions smoothly traverse space and time to generate a timeless zone of infinite expanse.
For the CD's epic piece, "Spirit Moves", a mantra beat has been added to the haunting strains, delivering the composition from higher atmospherics into realms that exhibit more humanity and substance. This quasi-tribal percussive presence is utilized only for the beginning of this 28 minute track, allowing moodiness to resume control of the patient flow.
Matt Howarth — Sonic Curiosity
|1. ||Present Moment|| ||7:52|| |
|2. ||Spirit Moves||MP3||28:37|| |
|3. ||Slow Rising|| ||14:38|| |
|4. ||Almost Touching||MP3||13:56|| |
|5. ||Ebb|| ||4:52|| |
|6. ||Flow|| ||4:00|| |