Exposé Online banner

Steve Roach — Dreamtime Return
(Projekt 175, 1988/2005, 2CD)

by Peter Thelen, 2006-05-01:

Dreamtime Return Cover art

The myths and legends of the Australian Aborigines provided the inspiration for this expansive opus that is generally touted as Roach’s first masterpiece. Here it is presented again in 24-bit remaster. If you’ve long wondered about discovering his music but never knew where to start, this is the place – not because it’s the best (although I wouldn’t argue with anyone who claims it is), but because it’s exemplary of much of what would come after – a signpost if you will that points to a number of paths that Roach would ultimately explore in his later work and right up to the present day. The sequenced piece that opens disc one is more in line with his earlier work, calling to mind elements of the Berlin electronic school. From that point the disc moves on to more explorative visions that involve floating ambient soundscapes, mysterious looping synth creations, and all types of ethnic percussion, mixed in varying degrees, often augmented by sampled sounds, electronic woodwinds, violin, and didgeridu. Moods change and shift freely throughout, from more aggressive trance workouts to quietly introspective pieces to evolutionary deep space explorations, all within the general scope of a singular guiding concept. The focus throughout is on the moment, that very instant that unfolds in the present, reaching for the elusive boundaries of imagination.

Disk two begins with the half hour “Looking For Safety”, a sublime and haunting ambient drift piece with a rich, looping melodic figure that reappears intermittently in various forms throughout its duration; in turn it is followed by another similarly styled dream sequence punctuated with dense, mysterious cloudlike structures. The highlight of the second disc is “Red Twilight With The Old Ones”, a cyclical evolution of tension and release, where field recordings of aboriginal songmen are integrated into the fabric of the piece. In all, the two discs present a broad cinematic continuum that moves freely through portals of perception, each presenting its own explorative vision of the overriding concept of dreamtime. This two disc set is available by itself, and also in a deluxe Dreamtime Box edition which includes two discs of new material recorded in the same spirit as the original set: Possible Planet and New Life Dreaming (both are reviewed in this issues’ New Releases section). Either way, this set comes highly recommended.


by Mike McLatchey, 2016-06-16:

McLatchey's Second Tier

This was Roach's first landmark release, at the time he was at the forefront of what was considered "New Age music." Albums like Quiet Music and Structures from Silence even showed up on radio shows in the 80s, but all were something of a warm up for this masterful melding of electronics and Australian aboriginal music and concepts. In fact if my memory holds, this album actually sold into six figures due to new age's popularity and visibility at the time. It's a huge sprawling album at two full CD lengths (I think the LPs and/or cassette at the time was a bit shorter) and it really hits on a lot of moods. For me it's particularly the long half an hour "Looking for Safety" that first got under my skin, it's really one of the true greats of long form ambient droning, with an almost epic sense of loneliness and sadness. The following tracks almost felt like climbing out of a very deep and meditative space. A lot of 80s music can sound very dated these days but this one's timeless, the first of many extraordinary albums to come over the next decade.


Filed under: Reissues , 2005 releases, 1988 releases

Related artist(s): Steve Roach

More info

Latest news

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

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


Previously in Exposé...

Salvation - 1st & Gypsy Carnival Caravan – Among the mainstays of the West coast psychedelic scene in the mid- to late-60s was a jamming unit with a slight country flavor originally called The New Salvation Army Banned. Eventually a certain...  (2010) » Read more

Neil Haverstick - If the Earth Was a Woman – Haverstick is a pioneering guitarist, known for his work in microtonal scales. The two previous releases we have reviewed in these pages — Acoustic Stick (n.18, p.50), and Other Worlds (n.20, p.48)...  (2004) » Read more

Present - C.O.D. Performance – This is the latest release from guitarist Roger Trigaux's post-Univers Zero project. Trigaux and son Reginald are the only musicians listed, both are credited with playing guitar, vocals, and...  (1995) » Read more

Tipographica - God Says I Can't Dance – As well covered in Exposé, Tipographica are one of the best new music ensembles around, a band better suited to those with largely experimental tastes. After a superb debut and equally interesting...  (1996) » Read more

Oöphoi & Tau Ceti - Subterranea – This collaboration between Oöphoi & Tau Ceti pre-dates their most recent, and was released on the Czech label Nextera along with reissues of his 2000 releases Mare Imbrium and Mare...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues