Atmospheric Conditions
by Forestter Cobalt, Supersphere

Steve Roach has a bevy of self-described genres his releases fall under, from "Atmospheric Space" to "Desert-Ambient" and a bunch of styles in between. Roach is a highly prolific musician, and I can't even count how many of his albums I own. He's like a pusher of drones, with a never-ending supply. After many years and many labels, he has created his own label, Timeroom Editions (The Timeroom is also a recording studio), so that clearly he can set his own agenda (like an upcoming album with actual slate covers), and sell particular albums mail-order only. Despite the private label releases, or larger label works, differences between works in Roach's catalog sometimes seem slight -- or else I'm just a bit jaded from hearing so much of his output over the years.

The recent ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS has a few wholly unique elements tied up in its creation that set it particularly apart from other his other releases. "Two Rivers Dreaming" was recorded as part of the Deep Listening Weekend in Italy in spring of '99. The artwork for the album was created by photographer Stu Jenks to the music of this album based upon philosophical parallels between their works. This album is meant to be played in random succession with the albums THE DREAM CIRCLE, SLOW HEAT, and many other albums of long, continuous pieces. In this sense, the clarity of Roach's role as ambient composer is complicated even more, as if Roach might suggest almost no single album is either meant to stand alone. But neither is an album of his meant to play on the stereo without active listening. Yet, too much active listening can blind the listener searching for details, fragments, elements that are buried. In a sense, Roach is as much a conceptual artist as he is a composer, and I would tend to presume, one who creates with a continual sense of spontaneity and movement, without worrying the details or elements to death.

ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS is indeed a mellow, atmospheric album, one that is highly suggestive in it's minor-key framework. Whether deep rumblings that suggest storm clouds or the movement of plate tectonics, the sounds of strange birds or storms of insects, notes that sound like they are sinking to the bottom of an ocean or moving into the spirit world -- this is very much Roach's territory, regardless of what sort of specific ambient subgenre it fits into. The more I listen, the more lost I become within it, and have to spend some time reorienting myself in reality. This album is utterly otherworldly.

Atmospheric Conditions

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CD $15.00
Atmospheric Conditions
Steve Roach
1999 Timeroom Editions 4 (CD)
Reviewed by Hannah M.G. Shapero, Hans Stoeve, Gary Andrews, Dreams Word, Star's End, Supersphere

Over two years in the making, ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS melts through five intoxicating soundworlds with an intention that's pure and deep. Steve states, "as time goes on, I feel the need to create ever more potent soundworlds that maintain the opening beyond the ordinary states of consciousness we experience in our daily life, and at the same time provide an almost womb-like feeling that builds over time after numerous listenings."
1. Underground Clouds Over a Secret GrottoMP322:32 
2. In the Heart of Distant Horizons (1)MP312:58 
3. In the Heart of Distant Horizons (2)MP310:30 
4. Two Rivers Dreaming (1)MP314:59 
5. Two Rivers Dreaming (2)MP312:11 

Atmospheric Conditions Framable Print

Glossy Print out of stock
Matte Print out of stock
Atmospheric Conditions Framable Print
Stu Jenks
2003 (Print)

7" x 7" print of the ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS cover, suitable for framing. Printed using the Epson 2200 inkjet printer on 8 1/2" x 11" Archival Matte or Semi-Gloss paper, using seven-color UltraChrome archival inks. These prints rival photo-lab quality, and the specs rate a fade-free image for at least 50 years. Each print is signed by photographer Stu Jenks, and shipped rolled.

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