Stream of Thought
by Darren Bergstein, e/i magazine
Vibrant, eclectic and at times fetching mindmeld from two gents whose collective talents are more simpatico than you might think. The Digipak's back cover notes this recording as a "continuous stream of sonic consciousness in 19 parts"; though the many pieces stagger their running times, making for an episodic (nee filmic) narrative that may or may not rattle the chains of the proletariat, is of no import — such an accumulative variety of pulsing textures is so soldered they transcend the sum of the album's numerous parts. Wøllo's musical background strikes similar chords to Roach's, as he's trucked between atmospheric, drone, and even pastoral guitar ambiance with equal ease, his recent recordings displaying a joie de vivre that deflected sentimentality by simple dearth of their years-etched acumen. The smoldering aftereffect of Roach's still-fresh LANDMASS
hovers like a Damoclesian blade over these proceedings, imbuing their entirety with the requisite compositional tension, but the duo's salutations, styles, and substances merge effortlessly nevertheless. And surprises lay in store for those of patient dispositions.
On the opening piece, sun-dappled guitars dance ceremoniously across a Steve Reich-ian flatbed of chiming percussion and ascending synths. This then morphs into the second movement, a recognizable Roach-mantra of whipping modular bass sequencers that the two free-associate a phalanx of electronics over. Similar patterns/patterning emerge as the album further unfolds, yet the one persistent conclusion to be drawn is that, much like the nebulous quality of REMsleep dreamstates, everything seems ephemeral, just out of reach, hallucinatory: so much occurs within each of the 19 segments that the various micro-events taking place can only be discerned by the spectator's enthusiastic revisitation thereof — or at least by damn fine headphones. Roach and Wøllo tinker with each other's muse to such calibrated effect that the resultant miasma becomes nigh on impossible to dissect, much less describe fully. Strange, offworld sounds curdle and ebb; rubbery beats spontaneously blossom only to quickly combust; guitar kindling icily shatter as they breach glacial membranes; shoals of deep space radiowaves oscillate through parsecs of blackness, designing malevolent shapes. Choose to explore each rapidly changing tributary singly (the closing fifteen-minute cavalcade of whorl and whirlygig alone nearly mandates the repeat button) or course down this Stream as its makers intended. Either way, Roach and Wøllo got their senses working overtime — and ours, too.
|Stream of Thought|
Steve Roach, Erik Wøllo
2008 Projekt PRO224 (CD)
Reviewed by All Music Guide, e/i magazine, Electroambient Space, Guts Of Darkness, MusicTAP, Sonic Curiosity, Sonic Immersion, Tokafi
The mind is a mystery of thoughts and fluidly-shifting collected memories. There are many thoughts which form complete stories, while others are mere threads with no beginning or ending. The flow of ideas is energetic, pulsating and often in dramatic contrast. In the same manner, STREAM OF THOUGHT escorts us with cinematic precision through the mind's uncountable destinations. Organic electronic and new ambient sonic boundaries effortlessly dissolve on STREAM OF THOUGHT.
With the combined experience of these two veteran electronic composers, this collaboration flows with an agility of emotion and intellect in fluid interplay; minimalist-inspired melodic tapestries, pulsing trance passages, deep drone drifts, and surreal soundscapes morph into cloud-like forms: a constant state of sonic evolution.
The results stand apart from the extended immersive long-form tracks of Steve's recent releases. While STREAM OF THOUGHT is presented as a continuous flow of 19 interconnected pieces, the metaphor of sitting on a stream's edge under full engagement with the present moment is the appropriate context to experience the fluid ebb and mercurial flow of this living, streaming soundworld.
Roach and Wøllo's similar age, musical inspirations and sonic inclinations - along with a mutual respect for each other's 25+ years of work - inform STREAM OF THOUGHT. Starting on two continents with two very different atmospheric conditions (the vast desert of Steve's Arizona and the icy solitude of Erik's homebase in Norway) this release began to take form in early 2007, as the composers traded musical ideas back and forth across long distances. The most formative aspect of the collaboration occurred in the summer of 2008 with Erik's visit to Steve's Timeroom studio in Arizona. Their week yielded the final recording, arrangement and editing. The approach to the album's structure was more like that of film editing, where a sense of time and pacing was consciously developed to activate a powerful visual/auditory reaction, a visceral experience.
STREAM OF THOUGHT explores the nuance of shifts within our perception. Segments of illumination juxtaposed with amorphous interludes and moving, flowing rhythm culminate in an unforgettable, shifting, dynamic experience. Relax and float downstream. Tranquil drifts, passionate rapids, midnight star gazing and blazing sunsets await. This is a vivid soundtrack for the senses designed to take the listener to the outer reaches of the imagination.
Presented as a 73-minute continuous flow.