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.
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
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
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
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