Arc of Passion
by Darren Bergstein, Signal to Noise
January 2008

Existential tone vendor, synth music's reigning chaostician such characterizations give meaning to the brand, yet the hasty tossing about of too many labels only dilutes the caliber of Steve Roach's luminescent constructions. For sheer breadth of imagination and profundity of sound design, his formidable back catalog is beyond reproach in its consistent quality, a feat made that much more remarkable by the fact that Roach has deftly traversed the banks of minimalism and maximalism so effectively. With an abundance of raw materials, he has created works staggeringly beautiful in their austerity (STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE, QUIET MUSIC), darkly strange and wondrous (THE MAGNIFICENT VOID), and often ferociously ritualized by cultures exotically topographic (DREAMTIME RETURN, MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES, EARLY MAN). He illustrates many of his breathtaking mesas with either a sharply chosen economy of means or a vivid riot of primary colors; regardless, much like the maxim of Pauline Oliveros, his music is optimized for deep listening.

Though ARC OF PASSION formally ushers in the new year, it is in fact the ideal copy to summarize an intense period of activity that saw Roach releasing a fistful of music (the two-disc FEVER DREAMS III and the third part of his ongoing Immersion series, a three-disc magnum opus), and blitzing the psyches of those fortunate souls witnessing his 2007 flurry of live performances. Culled from one of those in-person events in front of 80 gathered at southern California's prime boutique for electronic gear, Analogue Haven ARC OF PASSION is another two-disc powerhouse, a music that travels across a suite of endless, windswept vistas, electrically-interwoven crescendos and mortal isolationism. There is a tense emotional undercurrent that pervades the triad of pieces here, soldered into a symphony of drones by the titular recording's galvanic force. "Moment of Grace" is an expansive preface of sorts, as Roach filters and sweeps his faders along a blinding horizon of white light, the tones swelling in pitch as if arising out of the breaths of deepest ocean. He coaxes the ear along gradually until the undulating sequencers of the album's namesake prickle the air and assume shape, coiling about like writhing serpents. It is here that Roach lets loose the entirety of his arsenal's effects, allowing glistening curlicues to impact the surface, ripple out, and re-enter the whirling atmosphere as they cycle once again. Germanic influences notwithstanding, Roach has so mastered how to weave a sequencer fabric, how to alternate and mix any number of disparate sounds and then reintegrate them back into the matrix that the hoary template has in fact become the contemporary norm. It's startling stuff, and when he picks up the pace on disc two, the shifts in time, though subtle, course through variant, episodic micro-events whose calibrated sprites truly unveil themselves during subsequent exposures. By the time "Views Beyond" is revealed, a 21-minute sojourn into spooky twilight zones and Lovecraftian foreboding (which should proffer new directions for exploration), it's a satisfying, if ominous, conclusion such is the agony and the ecstasy Roach cultivates when he raids his Arc.

Arc of Passion

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CD  $20.00 
ON SALE, $15.00 
Arc of Passion
Steve Roach
2007 Projekt PRO202 (CD)
Reviewed by Electroambient Space, Musique Machine, Signal to Noise, Sonic Curiosity, Sonic Immersion, Star's End, Tokafi

Three striking new pieces born from the moment. Steve Roach's new 2-CD set seamlessly fuses three long unfolding soundworlds into a vibrant sonic odyssey. The result can only be described as a living, breathing ARC OF PASSION. As one of the pioneers of electronic music, Steve's career has many musical highpoints; ARC OF PASSION proves to be another definitive statement along the path. Advanced response from listeners places this album at the top of the list of must-have releases from Steve's body of work. Steve reaches into his sonic palette to weave elements drawn from his three definitive styles into a continuous, evolving flow. Rich harmonic chords, spiraling sequences and deep sky soundworlds move fluidly within this 2-hour set.

A vibrant immediacy is alive on ARC OF PASSION; recorded in a studio-like environment at Analogue Haven with an audience of 80 people, the sonic textures and evolving nature of the pieces reach into the core of the present moment bringing it into form with elegance and energy.

The opening 19-minute track billows outwards with rich and shadowed harmonic movement; deep chords ebb and flow like the thunder clouds of a summer storm, entering the realm of the hauntingly serene MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES or THE MAGNIFICENT VOID albums. The set flows into the 60-minute title track built from layers of percussive and melodic patterns interwoven and evolving while holding a steady pulse and direction. Waves of emotion from intertwining sequencers provide the foundation for the evolving trance patterns that develop into full mesmerizing, passionate form. The closing 20-minute piece is deep primal ambience mixed with processed didgeridoo hovering within an expansive soundscape. Long, arching tendril-like forms breathe within this infinite soundfield.

Steve comments: "This arc represents a trajectory of emotion infused with energy from a radiant, serene core that comes from within the creative moment." ARC OF PASSION is a deep and vibrant expression of life lived passionately.

(Source: Projekt press release)

"Steve Roach reaches back into his sonic palette and pulls forth quite possibly the definitive album of his career. Beyond essential." -- Michael Ostrich,
Disc 1
1. Moment of GraceMP319:05 
2. Arc of PassionMP331:36 
Disc 2
1. Arc of Passion (continued)MP328:44 
2. Views BeyondMP321:29 
-  Disc 1 MP3 ExcerptsMP3 
-  Disc 2 MP3 ExcerptsMP3 

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