by Darren Bergstein, e/i magazine
Reacting to the moment, indeed fabricating its template as the post-midnight hours drew out all sorts of internal phantasms, Roach's fomentation of LANDMASS out of a radio station's sound booth speaks volumes about his regenerative gift for invention and application. While A DEEPER SILENCE opened up vast, unhurried spaces for disembodied traveling, LANDMASS is a far more extroverted construct, six lengthy pieces of stormsurge and metamorphic resonance. Recorded live at WXPN studios in Philadelphia on the venerable Star's End radio show, LANDMASS condenses a millennia's energy of continental drift into one epoch-spanning force of nature. The breathtaking vistas that ribbon-wrap the digipak provide some total recall of their own -- Roach's collaboration with Kevin Braheny on Western Spaces, imagery coveted from Dreamtime Return -- but rather than a historically assembled composite, LANDMASS instead feels more like a statement of intent. And what a statement. Though the protean chord sweeps and abyssal ambiences incontrovertibly image-stamp this as a Roach album, there's little in the way of repetitive motifs or overused passages; everything about this recording, from point of conception to execution of ideas, feels fresh, vibrant, cinematically rich. Roach's choice of sound design, carved in situ, is all the more dazzling for it: the chromium synths ratcheting-up tensions along a boiling sequencer front acts as the propellant enabling "Transmigration" amid a flurry of levitating pulses central to the record's tingling spine. Track titles vividly depict what becomes electronic analog: indeed, soaring through "Cerulean Blue Sky Over a Seared Desert Wasteland" is no doubt abetted by its oxygenated rush of synthetic cloudbursts and interlocked, serpentine rhythms. "Monuments of Memory" and "Alluvial Plain" bear witness to the movements of geologic time, jettisoning the acrobatic thrall of sequencer so Roach can brush great swathes of plangent color across his desolate canvas. When he finally leaves LANDMASS's (and his host's) excoriated territory behind with the appositely-titled "Stars Begin," hushed drones, cast amongst the galaxies like grains of sand, seem to portend some kind of big bang; instead, they ebb discretely back into the void, forever primed for reawakening when next Roach decides to smite the power.