by Gary Andrews, Sequences
Collaborations in music can be a mixed blessing. Sometimes they can triumph and sometimes they can be a disaster. Steve Roach has collaborated on many musical projects and has always triumphed. His early collaborations included working with such innovators of the US electronic scene as Michael Stearns, Robert Rich and more recently with the "new" influx of musicians such as Vidna Obmana, Jim Cole and Vir Unis.
BLOOD MACHINE is the latest collaboration with Vir Unis, whose previous work with Steve Roach was BODY ELECTRIC, a tantalizing blend of lush soundworlds combined with dynamic fractal grooves that represented the modern day equivalent of such rapid-fire sequencer based albums such as EMPETUS and STORMWARNING.
Although similar in style to BODY ELECTRIC and Steve's 1999 award-winning LIGHT FANTASTIC, BLOOD MACHINE comes across as a fresh and newly invigorating recording.
The music infuses within the listener a feeling of being among the "future tribal." In other words, the fractal grooves, although at their most up-to-date and state of the art, still contain the raw power and feeling of primitive earthbound music, most notably in the percussion portions of the music of which there happens to be a plethora.
For instance, the start of "Dissolving the Code" features slowly opening chords, and the anticipation of something dynamic waiting to burst onto the soundstage becomes reality very soon into the composition.
A groove going at a breakneck speed comes out of nowhere and a steady beat is laid over the top. As with a lot of Steve's albums with a lot of tracks, the music segues into the next track seamlessly, and the following track "Evolution" calms down the initial sonic onslaught with a slightly toned down of fractal groove bliss. If listening with headphones, the music becomes very much an exercise in 3-D aural imaging, and becomes the proverbial head-trip!
Again this album, in some ways like its predecessor, could be made fashionable with the techno-rave crowd. The sounds are awesome in design and style, and in most cases outclasses its more trendy and fashionable street-cred musical brothers hands down.
It has taken a period of nearly two years for Steve and Vir Unis to hone and polish this release, and it surely shows in the finished product. This is definitely a substantial release, and maybe even a defining moment in Steve and Vir's musical evolution.