Streams & Currents
by John Diliberto, Tower Pulse!
What happens when an ambient synthesist switches to electric guitar? In the case of Steve Roach, he becomes an ambient guitarist. Roach had been molding sonic atmospheres since the early '80s, moving through electronic space music, techno-tribal didgeridoo primitivism and even a bit of country twang. After his DUST TO DUST
album with guitarist Roger King, Roach picked up the instrument himself and used it for the abstract sound design of his MIDNIGHT MOON
album. He's developed a better command of the instrument on STREAMS & CURRENTS, but even if he could whip it out like Eddie Van Halen, that isn't Steve Roach's concern. He works the guitar for texture, using e-bow, volume swells and delays to create sounds that arc and flow in wind-blown slow motion. Like sand drifting across the desert, complex and detailed patterns emerge out of seemingly random events. But his isn't an album for meditation, it's another Roach ode to the abyss, an interior space that's more psychological than spiritual.
|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|| |