All is Now, Day Out of Time, Darkest Before Dawn
by David Layton, Progression Magazine
If Steve Roach has not by now established himself as America's foremost synthesizer artists, these three discs certainly reinforce that distinction. Perhaps striving to outdue Klaus Schulze as the world's most prolific synthesist, Roach has released three discs in one year, excluding his numerous collaborative projects.
What makes Roach so distinct is that despite a copious output, not one of his works is bad or even close to it. While some material may seem redundant when compared to other Roach efforts, and while some may meander a little, few working musicians have created music of such a consistently high caliber.
ALL IS NOW is a collection of live performances released as if they were studio tracks - no audience presence in the mix. The music reflects the professionalism of Roach's performances, so elegant and experience that the improvised jam parts are impossible to distinguish. Stylistically, it's as close to the albums ARTIFACTS and ORIGINS, with processed percussion and ethnic instruments that dance around electronic ambiences.
DAY OUT OF TIME is the soundtrack to a wordless documentary, TIME OF THE EARTH. Roach intertwines older with newly recorded material. The album, thus, covers the variety of styles Roach has employed over the years. It opens with the brooding, "Underground Clouds," and more ethereal favs includes, "Begin Looking Upward" and "Merciful Eyes." Much of the rest is more percussive, a couple tracks locking into some nice slow grooves.
DARKEST BEFORE DAWN is the most challenging listen of the three albums. Consisting of one long track of distant, nighttime sounds, this one suggests what outer space might sound like. The music is not structured minimalism; rather it is "minimal" like the currents in a cloud of some unknown substance, flowing without distinct shape - a masterwork of its kind.