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Byron Metcalf / Steve Roach / Rob Thomas — Monuments of Ecstasy
(Projekt 313, 2015, CD)
Here’s another of those virtual collaborations, although this time it’s a trio of electro-acoustic wizards. Steve Roach – a synth and soundscape pioneer – is probably well known to most Exposé readers. Byron Metcalf is a veteran percussionist who specializes in shamanistic drumming, and Rob Thomas is a highly regarded didgeridoo practitioner. On paper the collaboration between these three should work. And for the most part it does, although there are times when the experiments have to be appreciated as just that – experiments. The process is fairly consistent across all six tracks: Roach first sets up an atmospheric backdrop, either with ambient washes (as on “Archaic Layers”) or with cycling analog pulses (“Molecules of Momentum”). Metcalf then joins, establishing the rhythmic concept with his arsenal of tribal drums. Thomas usually joins last, providing tonal and decorative garnish. The trio does a nice job exploring the textural and rhythmic possibilities within their sonic collective. Some tracks have a more relaxed and calming vibe, although I was struck by the amount of up-tempo jams that would have been at home in club-land. Because of the tribal percussion and didgeridoo there’s a primitive and earthy quality to it all, which occasionally makes Roach the odd man out. Especially when he decides to throw Mellotron strings against the rain forest drums and bird sounds of the title track. It’s an interesting counterpoint but I’m not sure it works. Still, I can easily recommend this collection to fans of all three musicians. Hopefully there’ll be more to come.
by Paul Hightower, Published 2017-06-28
by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-02-11
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