"Deep Sky Dreaming"
October 25, 2008

Coconino Center for the Arts
Flagstaff, Arizona

Read the Flagstaff Cultural Partners Interview

True to the concert's title "Deep Sky Dreaming", Steve Roach turned in, to his audience, yet another dynamic two-hour set. The beginning of the set started with desert ambient noise, crickets and wolf howls as he gently started off to what would be for me, a 20+ year fan, an almost "best of Steve Roach" evening. Roach started early with billows of cloud waves reminescent of The Magnificent Void era, only to let that texture drift. He left his cockpit, to stage left, to an oddly-placed classic Roland JD800, took a seat and expands "the Void" further. This was a nice personal touch to see Steve, out front, one keyboard guiding us all to deeper worlds. Steve returned to center stage and pulled up some nice sequencer layers a'la Empetus, Arc of Passion or Life Sequence. He kept these well subdued though, as he continually stacked loop upon loop creating some of the most dazzling live spaces I've seen him perform. Taking over, Steve programmed (or triggered) a stomping dry tribal beat. Steve layered didgeridoo drones on top and really drove some energy into the audience. He portaled out of the beat with an almost comet rush, and it was like plunging through a black hole to an exploding celestial finish.


Roach then tapped into Possible Planet, toying with the surround-sound and the listeners' ears. Like a wave of primordial insecta in 5.1 Dolby, Roach nibbled on our ears and continued to create mammoth sonic waves to steer out of the prehistoric detour. Roach ended the set with nice cloudy textures in the Landmass vein, ending with more processed didgeridoo while fading out the soundscapes. Roach grasped the didge with both hands, indicating we have landed safely.

Standing ovation.

Roach truly drove a portal bus back through time and back again. I don't know if this was his ultimate intention, but this is what I received. To me, his latest releases (Arc of Passion, Landmass) have been almost a culmination of a lot of different periods. Many times through the night I was like, "oh my, we're in Void territory", or Artifacts, or Atmospheric Conditions, etc. One could take a "best of" almost as a slap, but Roach never really visits old territory with the same approach and then regurgitates it. I also don't identify with comments like "he's always reinventing himself". No, Steve Roach is himself, always evolving, in the present moment.

– Keny Butler

photos courtesy Robert Smith

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