Exposé Online banner

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

by Mike McLatchey, 2016-06-16:

Dreamtime Return Cover art

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.


by Peter Thelen, 2006-05-01:

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.


Filed under: Reissues , Issue 33 , 2005 releases, 1988 releases

Related artist(s): Steve Roach

More info

Latest news

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
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

2019-04-24
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

2019-04-10
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


Previously in Exposé...

The Muffins - Chronometers – A strange release at first glance. One CD, 70 plus minutes, 21 tracks, one track is 23 minutes long. Hmmm. This is a compilation of outtakes and general weirdness from 1975. The Muffins are often...  (1993) » Read more

Musica Urbana - Iberia – Spanish ensemble Music Urbana are quite an interesting group of musicians, creating a very original music. Their first album, recently reissued showed a band blending a plethora of styles –...  (1996) » Read more

Christian Vander - Les Voyages de Christoph Colomb – This is not so much a solo album as it is a narrative with some backing music. All of the music is performed by Christian Vander on synthesizers (which were programmed accordingly by Stella Vander)....  (1995) » Read more

Chaos Code - A Tapestry of Afterthoughts – When I first saw the cover of this CD, with its hazmat suited figure amid a grim orange cloud, nuclear plants in the background, I guessed I was in for some gloomy harsh stuff. Then I saw the...  (2000) » Read more

JPP, Troka, Loituma & Frifot - History, Smash, In the Moonlight & SummerSong – Here we have new releases by some of the more traditional of NorthSide’s Scandinavian artists, three from Finland and one from Sweden. You’ll find no electronic textures on these discs,...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues