The Road Eternal
by Darren Bergstein, One Thousand Pulses
June 2011

Building upon the riches of their first collaboration, STREAM OF THOUGHT, Roach and W°llo team up once again to shake the electronic firmament loose and rebuild its infrastructure from the ground up. One of the biggest differences first noticed on their wonderful THE ROAD ETERNAL is the duration of the pieces therein; jettisoning the prior recording's episodic, albeit involving, construct for longer works allows the duo's gorgeously crafted and intricate structures room to breathe. The title track alone benefits greatly from this approach; Roach and W°llo ratchet up the atmosphere layer upon layer, a spiky, modulated sequence pulses and grows, until the background becomes foreground, splaying vivid brushstrokes of tincture and hue across the stereofield. Comparisons are meaningless here, analogues moot: the duo's unique sound patterns approximate little else that currently acts as vogue along any contemporary genre continuum. On "Depart at Sunrise", cinemascopic strings signal the great, dawning expanse of past epochs, ripples of melancholia soon pierced by strangely arcing tones and cooing sequencer -- amidst a record abundant with compelling sounds, this is one of the duo's best works. "First Twilight" and the closing "Night Strands" (great title!) work their nocturnal jones more through the underbrush, soft, scuttling noises glowing like phosphorescent plankton in the wake of a dark sea, synths mimicking foghorns that cycle through the pitch black. What light then blossoms out becomes quite revealing indeed, illuminating THE ROAD ETERNAL as another superfine work from its stalwart creators.

The Road Eternal

CD  $16.98 
ON SALE, $12.00 
The Road Eternal
Steve Roach, Erik Wøllo
2011 Projekt PRO259 (CD)
Reviewed by Ambient Music Guide, Brutal Resonance, Hypnagogue, Musique Machine, New Age Retailer, One Thousand Pulses, Relaxed Machinery,, Sonic Immersion, Star's End, Synth & Sequences

Following their collaboration STREAM OF THOUGHT, Roach and Wollo reunite to travel THE ROAD ETERNAL, an electronic/ambient path filled with passion and beauty. Six engaging and expansive rhythmic sequencer-based tracks intersperse with ambient zones and soaring electric guitar textures highlighting sparse, arching thematic lines.

Wherein their first collaboration blended a number of shorter passages into a spellbinding whole, THE ROAD ETERNAL is five longer compositions that build upon a basis of complex, inventive and hypnotic sequencer patterns. Intricate and ever-changing rhythmic cycles merge with melodic phrases creating a compelling groundwork that propels the music forwards. With inspiration drawn in part from classic trance-inducing electronic music with early German roots, the project takes on an interwoven structure draped with harmonic and melodic passages. The route through the music offers different perspectives to hear or "see" on every listen.

This is the sound of big skies, open roads and soaring thoughts, pulling one towards the next destination; reflected in the music with the counterplay of long and meditative rythmic zones and constellation-like melodic elements filled with space. The tracks transpose two different worlds: Steve's southwestern desert habitat and Erik's home base in Norway. The sum of these two environments becomes a hybrid landscape of new discovery. "We are both passionate about the observation of nature and the poetic character of natural surroundings," Erik says, "The ways in which we relate to this, as well as the awareness of the ongoing passage of time. These ideas have been a driving force behind our whole artistic careers, and it is strongly reflected in this collaboration."

"In our music," Steve reflects, "a central pulse and steady momentum is present. The sensation is a consistent feeling of travel. Whether you're driving, flying, riding a train or some other form of transportation, the sound and vibration enters your body and becomes part of the meditation of the travel experience. Listening to these tracks while traveling allows the music to merge with the experience arriving at an integrated place where thoughts and imagination are unified as a soundtrack for one's own road movie. The metaphor of THE ROAD ETERNAL in the creative process is the other element of the album title: the road the artist travels with the allure of discovering what is next around the corner."

The project began in early 2010 and shifted into high gear when Erik traveled to Tucson that fall to perform at the SoundQuest Fest. After the concert, the two artists holed-up in The Timeroom for a few days channeling the energy from the fest to work non-stop towards THE ROAD ETERNAL's completion. Roach states, "This is the music I have wanted to create with Erik since I first heard his classic Traces release way back in the 80's."

With Steve on analog sequencing, electronic percussion and most of the zones and atmospheres, Erik focuses on his processed, textural, and melodic elements while performing on various guitars and guitar synthesizers. THE ROAD ETERNAL strikes a perfect balance of the artists' two distinct styles and common ground.

The sound is vibrant, emotional, full of shimmering light and saturated with optimism. With each artist having devoted over 30 years to their art, this album flows with the understanding and skill that comes from this experience, bringing their specialties together in the true spirit of collaboration.

"The combined efforts of ambient masters Steve Roach and Erik Wollo have created an extraordinary cerebral flow of ambient music that is at once adrenaline pumping, yet mesmerizing." --
1. The Road EternalMP321:21 
2. Depart at SunriseMP39:16 
3. The Next PlaceMP312:15 
4. First TwilightMP34:35 
5. Travel By MoonlightMP310:06 
6. Night StrandsMP35:16 

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