The Steve Roach web site states that this CD has "a reverence for the slowing of time which allows the natural reflective process to emerge". There is a slow heartbeat-like acoustic frame drum (played by Byron Metcalf) gently pumping among overtone voices, didgeridoo, bansuri flute, and tamboura drones. The ambient mix created here has the organic texture of a natural musical performance. Mark Seelig's bansuri weaves in and out of the mix lending subtle melody lines and Stefin Gordon fingers a droning tamboura beneath. The eight tracks are numbered rather than named and flow from one to another without the interruption of three or four second silences.
A swaying, undulating sound conjuring up the Indian sub-continent that disguises the underlying synths, guitars and electronic elements presenting them as a natural part of a timeless ceremonial music. Peaceful, contemplative, hypnotic -- the unhurried, rolling grooves and drones languorously revolve in soporific spirals and then fade away in turn to be replaced by the next rising movement.
Opulent kaleidoscopic, mandala-like discs of purple and cyan tones are adorned with middle-eastern scripts and motifs. Centrally there is the suggestion of something galactic -- a star burst, a nebula -- reminding us that this is not a repetition of something past. The lettering is an elegant script style beautifully complementing the imagery. The overall impression is one of past meets future -- just as the music is an evolution or extrapolation of the traditional so too the imagery evokes time in both directions.
Eight ethnically stained rhythmic canvases that clearly belong in one uniform gallery. Steve Roach has produced material with a "tribal" tenor before now -- but this CD more strongly than ever feels grounded in a particular unspecified middle-eastern location. There are melodies of a kind since the bansuri flute is primarily a melody instrument -- however, the melodies produced here are heavily draped in ambience and dissolve easily into the drones and sustained tones smoothly heaving beneath. This is perhaps one of Steve's more easy to listen to albums -- feeling accessible even on a first hearing.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM
Ethno-ambient travellers, those looking for a sustained exotic mood, anyone wanting ambient music with a global beat to it and an introspective tranquillity. Karunesh too recently produced a CD built around Asian sounds in Call of the Mystic -- but, whereas, his music develops gentle new age melodies, MANTRAM is more sober, unstructured, mesmerising, and pensive.