by Loren Bacon, Electronic Shadows
I've read online that this is something like Roach's 54th album in the past quarter of a century. Now that's one amazing catalog, to say the least. However, the man is not content to rest on his laurels and has given us one sensual exotic sonic adventure with this release.
The mood is set with the opening track, "Wicked Dream", as Roach's drifting loops and guitar washes are met with Patrick O'Hearn (given co-writing credit on this tune) on bass, putting down a groove that just can't be denied. The music pulls you in and you suddenly find yourself in a steamy jungle with a shaman handing you a cup of some dark brew. Then the fun really begins! This song reminds one of some of the Laswell / Namlook collaborations (which is a very good thing, in my book).
Bass (and its link to the groove) seems very dominant throughout the recording, with two musicians on that instrument in addition to Roach. The complex percussion, however, comes in a close second in terms of dominance, with a lot of tribal sounds from acoustic percussion as well as electronic rhythms.
Byron Metcalf, percussionist extraordinaire, appears again with Roach on two of these tracks. The duo have worked together on several of each other's solo albums, and it is a great blending of talent. Metcalf puts down some marvelous frame drum work on "Tantra Mantra", the half-hour opus on this CD.
The bewitching cover represents the music well in that it is a collage of temple ruins, mountain heights, and swirling mysteries. This is the first of a trilogy of related recordings set to come out this year, and I can hardly wait to hear the next phase.