Byron Metcalf / Steve Roach / Rob Thomas — Monuments of Ecstasy
(Projekt 313, 2015, CD)
by Paul Hightower, 2017-06-28:
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 Peter Thelen, 2015-02-11:Metcalf and Roach collaborated on many endeavors in the past, back around the turn of the current century we had The Serpent’s Lair (2000), and a few years later Mantram (2004) and The Shaman’s Heart (2005), and in fact these collaborations have continued right up through the present. The release at hand, Monuments of Ecstasy, falls into a similar general style, with one foot set firmly in the grooves of ancient tribal sounds, the other in the fluid, dreamy and expansive textures of ambient electronic sounds. The six tracks here explore different variations of the style, anchored by Metcalf’s powerful hypnotic drumming, as well as Thomas’ didgeridoo, voices, clay and wood percussion. Roach weaves into this powerful fabric a dreamy wall of primal textures created with various analog and modular synths and processing, along with percussive grooves and sounds of mysterious origins. The pulsating framework that the trio operate within make this a very different animal than most of Roach’s solo works, which tend to float into a crossweb of organic flowing textures without any percussive elements. Here the mix of hand drums, didgeridoo and other indigenous percussion keep the sound alive and the listener in a constantly flowing state of hyper-perception, while the synths weave in and out creating a magical trance-like quality; one won’t fall asleep listening to this one, but its primal nature does tend to induce a spiritual euphoric feeling that permeates the being.
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more