Steve Roach / Robert Logan — Biosonic
(Projekt 326, 2016, CD)
Steve Roach and Robert Logan — Second Nature
(Projekt 327, 2016, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2016-06-25
Long-time floating ambient innovator Steve Roach, the man who nearly single-handedly created this genre, branching out of the electronic music tree now pairs up with British innovator Robert Logan, half Roach’s age, for this pair of new releases that couldn’t be more different from one another, yet in spite of the contrast, both of these releases bask in the pure emotion of sound, blending sonic tranquility and brisk energy, each in their own way. The core melodic content on much of Second Nature seems to be the spirited outpouring of feeling via Logan’s electric grand piano, like a drifting improvisation that carries the listener from one passage to the next through a shimmering cloudy upsurge. Roach adds his arsenal of analog and digital synths, loops, textures, and effects, creating a complete organic soundworld in which it all can exist and flourish. There are four discrete tracks herein, all varying lengths from around seven minutes to nearly thirty-two, each lastig just long enough to saliently make its point and then envelop the listener in further development and variations, with striking and spectacular results, especially on the title track. The combinations of sounds (soft, effected piano, studio ambience and heavy atmospherics) in certain parts may occasionally remind the listener of Kit Watkins in his Beauty Drifting period. Incidentally, both of these releases clock in at over 70 minutes each, so there is plenty of time to get lost in this world.
Biosonic, like its name (and album cover art) implies, is a collection of explorative pieces that take a more rhythmic approach, both composers working with synthesizers, sequencers, rhythm machines, samples, and loops thereof. You may see all that and start thinking Klaus Schulze or something, but you would be wrong; this is very explorative, and even though rhythmic in nature, it’s like very little I’ve heard before, not only in Roach’s catalog, but anyone’s. The approach is busy and organic, with swells of melodic sound trading off with the sequenced chatter, shimmering loops and repeating cells of found sounds. Here the nine tracks all fade together at the edges so you essentially get one ever-evolving continuous piece for the entire duration, split into nine movements with titles like “Ecdysis Activation,” “Amniotic Universe,” and “The Biomechanoid Lifecycle Revealed.” It definitely evokes a different and contrasting feeling than the soft and gentle approach of Second Nature, with very dense and mysterious sonic structures throughout, with new sounds coming at you from every dark corner as one passes through this lengthy H.R.Gigerscape. The ongoing mind-expanding intensity that builds and morphs throughout will provide plenty of interesting listening for dauntless sonic explorers.
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more