by Darren Bergstein, Muze
It's 1999, and Steve Roach has decided to send off the millennium not with a whimper but a decidedly big bang. Assimilating the myriad courses electronic music has taken over the past 20 years, and bridging it together with the sensibilities of fellow alchemists Vidna Obmana and Vir Unis, Roach continues to assault the sonic palette with an absolutely splendid album of mandala-esque rhythms and great currents of sound that simply churn and burn. Assertive and bright, Roach has left behind the techno-tribalisms of albums previous and discovered the white-hot light illuminating the universe's edge. During "The Reflecting Chamber" for example, soaring synthesizers mesh with elegant, curlicue drum patterns, the sounds of nebula expanding their colorful tendrils across the cosmic spectrum. "The Luminous Return" finds Roach ringing out the celebration of light's triumph over darkness, amidst a thunderous rhythmic spectacle that helps to propel serpentine electronic waves out into the vastness. It's at once awe-inspiring and sobering to behold, easily his best album in recent memory. Feel the power.