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Steve Roach — Rest of Life
(Projekt no#, 2023, 2CD)

Steve Roach — Essentials 1984​-​2004, Space and Time
(Projekt no#, 2004/2022, DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-03-10

Rest of Life Cover artEssentials 1984​-​2004, Space and Time Cover art

Earlier this year Roach’s Ambient Church New York City concert from June of last year was released for general consumption, an historic live recording from what has to be the perfect venue for this kind of immersive music. Now, only a few months later we have a new double-disc set of powerful studio recordings, the first disc featuring five shorter (relatively speaking) pieces of quiet, atmospheric yet colorful pieces of introspective ambient sounds, with a second disc featuring a single expansive long-form piece that stretches out to a full hour, slowly covering the listener with warmth and surreal moving textures, which is a good place to start. Rest of Life refers to the composer’s relationship with time, and its priceless value within our time in this world, from moment to moment or further into the vast expanses of time. Disc two hosts “The Knowing Place,” the mysterious vast summit where all things are observable to the listener. Roach’s battery of synths are joined by guest cello as the piece unfolds before you in real time, stretching out into the unknown, the walls breathe and the floor buckles, and the ceiling opens to a beautiful starlit sky dripping with cosmic beauty; the cyclical nature of the soundworld elicits peace and wonderment, each cycle opening a deeper path into the mystical spiral, as the listener slowly lets go of all worldly baggage on their way to the sublime pinnacle of consciousness, After a solid hour of these massaging sound cycles, listeners will no doubt find themselves in a new space, a more relaxed and unconfined place. The first disc contains a similar program of slower, evolutionary pieces that cast an atmosphere of dreamy colors and warmth, but without many of the dark textural elements found on the second disc, with a touch more sonic purity. The eight-minute opener “Sit with Me” sets the stage for the 23-minute title track that follows, a bouquet of soft pastel colors and shimmering cloudbursts that offer pleasure to all the senses as the piece slowly proceeds and eventually fades to black. With “Future Informing” the listener is treated to the sound of what seem like glacially expanded bells and gongs, giving the sense of distant sounds while walking on a frozen lake, with echoes coming in from all sides. The appropriately titled “Softly Spoken, Deeply Heard” is another long one, approaching seventeen minutes, mostly a very quiet adventure that blows in softly like a warm summer breeze, punctuated by colorful highlights. The disc one closer is “Stream of Forever,” another deep-listening piece that stretches out to an album side, a cyclical journey evoking stillness and calm, with soft sequenced sounds hovering just below the surface. In all, Rest of Life calls forth a gentle world of cosmic beauty that all fans of Roach’s music will want to immerse themselves in.

For those listeners who haven’t yet found the portal into Steve Roach’s soundworlds, late last year Projekt released a compilation titled Essentials 1984​-​2004, Space and Time that collects 22 excepts from his first twenty years, including collaborations with Roger King, Byron Metcalf, Jeffrey Fayman, Vidna Obmana, and others. The total playing time is just around 90 minutes, and most of the excepts are in the three to five minute range, just enough to offer a sample of some of his best work from the early years. It’s available as a download-only and the price is certainly right. If you ever wanted to check out Roach’s work but had no idea where to begin, Essentials will be the perfect guide.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases, 2022 releases, 2004 recordings

Related artist(s): Steve Roach, Dirk Serries / Vidna Obmana / Fear Falls Burning, Byron Metcalf, Jeffrey Fayman

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