Exposé Online banner

Byron Metcalf / Steve Roach / Rob Thomas — Monuments of Ecstasy
(Projekt 313, 2015, CD)

by Paul Hightower, 2017-06-28:

Monuments of Ecstasy Cover art

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.

Filed under: New releases , 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Steve Roach, Byron Metcalf

More info

Latest news

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Kaipa - Angling Feelings – What is Roine Stolt doing? First he leaves The Tangent and now he's flown the coop from Kaipa, a band he helped form in 1975. I can only guess he's focusing his efforts on getting Flower Kings...  (2008) » Read more

Mitchell Froom - A Thousand Days – Solo piano records can be a strong romantic but minimalist statement depending on the performer and how personal he would like to make it. Froom’s biography reads like a who’s-who of modern pop...  (2006) » Read more

Lady Lake - Unearthed – By one scheme of reckoning, rarities collections come three categories: those that are only of interest to established fans of the artist, those that can serve as an introduction to a newbie, and...  (2008) » Read more

SS Puft Quartet with Dave Rempis - Live at Earthshaking Music – Four Athens natives + one collectively channel their improvisational demons with this two disc set on the independent Solponticello label. Saxophonist Dave Rempis (on loan from Vandermark 5) runs out...  (2002) » Read more

Sorten Muld - III – Back in 1999 I fell in love with Sorten Muld’s first NorthSide release, Mark II (reviewed in #19), which easily made my year-end list. Now I’m happy to report that III is even better,...  (2001) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues