Texture Maps
by Bert Strolenberg
December 7, 2003

TEXTURE MAPS presents us with Vol. 3 in the Lost Pieces series. This time (as the title suggests) we take a dive into vast textural landscapes which -- for whatever reason -- unfortunately stayed on the shelves of Steve's Timeroom studio. These 8 tracks give further insight on how his music has developed through the past years, and how he was able to end up producing great albums like THE MAGNIFICENT VOID and MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES.

The 21-minute album opener "Grey and Purple" is a stand-out piece of art. In a marvelous way it takes us back to the year 1987 with soft but rich layers of melancholic synth washes flowing and this intriguing analogue synth taking core position from time to time while transparent soundscapes circle around it.

"Artifact Ghost" is next, a morphing piece with darker and lighter undercurrents, edited from a 90-minute track used as a "walk-in" atmosphere for concerts around 1993. In the three-fold "Spiral Triptych" you encounter many ingredients and ideas which would later show up in twisted form in the Mystic Chords box, while "Bottomless 2" is an alternate version of the same track contributed to the Hypnos sampler WEIGHTLESS, EFFORTLESS. The album finishes with "Quiet Sun" and "Soul Night", both made this year. Both contain the same compelling and sometimes even surreal content as found on the Mystic Chords work, but will ride the edge as soon as you put on headphones. This said, TEXTURE MAPS is a worthy addition to the already extensive Roach collection. It showcases the various sonic sources found, assembled and reworked during the past period, but also leads the way for much more still to come.

Texture Maps

CD  $15.00 
ON SALE, $9.00 
Texture Maps
The Lost Pieces Vol. 3

Steve Roach
2003 Timeroom Editions 11 (CD)
Reviewed by Bert Strolenberg, Ambient Musings, Ambient Visions, Deep Listenings, e|i magazine, Ping Things, Sonic Curiosity, Wind and Wire

This purely atmospheric set maps the shift from the tonal serenity found on Steve's earlier work towards the harmonically rich and contrasted souldworlds of late. The centerpiece of TEXTURE MAPS is a pivotal 20-minute piece recorded the same week as "Looking for Safety" from DREAMTIME RETURN. Titled "Grey and Purple", it's a genuine lost piece from 1987 that foreshadows Steve's sonic evolution as later realized on THE MAGNIFICENT VOID and ultimately MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES.

This edition of Lost Pieces has a consistent atmospheric feel throughout, unlike THE LOST PIECES (Vol. 1) and TRUTH & BEAUTY (Vol. 2) which mixed the dynamic and more atmospheric pieces together.

1. "Gray and Purple" (1987) -- This pivotal piece was recorded live in the studio the same week as "Looking for Safety" from DREAMTIME RETURN. In listening now, I can feel how it was forecasting the oncoming contrasted harmonic climates that would become most realized on THE MAGNIFICENT VOID and MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES. The shift from the serene nature of QUIET MUSIC and STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE is clear on this recording.

2. "Artifact Ghost" (1993) -- This atmosphere has continued to haunt me from the moment it was made. It first was heard supporting the momentum of the rhythmic forms on ARTIFACTS and WELL OF SOULS. This pure version was used as a "walk in" atmosphere for many concerts around this time. While it's around nine minutes on this CD, the original length was 90 minutes. I found the circular - spiraling - aspect of this steady state space especially effective when it was played in continuous low volume loop playback in the house for many days and nights around this time.

3, 4, 5. "Spiral Triptych" (2001) -- These three interconnected spaces are part of a large collection of unreleased zones that shaped the direction of the MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES project early on.

6. "Bottomless 2" (1999) -- An alternate mix of a piece featured on a compilation for the Hypnos label. It is poured from a similar material that made THE MAGNIFICENT VOID, and created around this same time.

7, 8. "Quiet Sun" and "Soul Light" (2003) -- These two spaces are a few of the many created live in the studio after MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES was complete. The creative momentum continued pulling me deeper in as I was coming back up to the surface upon the official conclusion of the four Mystic CD's. The pieces kept coming, and this one in particular feels like a fitting bookend in relationship to the opening piece from 1987, "Gray and Purple".
1. Gray and PurpleMP321:14 
2. Artifact Ghost (edit)MP38:46 
3. Spiral TriptychMP315:24 
6. Bottomless 2MP37:03 
7. Quiet SunMP35:29 
8. Soul LightMP315:09 

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