Steve Roach — Storm Surge: Steve Roach Live at NEARfest
(NEARfest Records NFR0008, 2006, CD)
Steve Roach — Immersion: One
(Projekt 181, 2006, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2007-03-01
Steve Roach’s appearance at NEARfest 2005 was a landmark event. Any live performance by Roach is a rarity, but to be exposed to such a large audience — and one largely unfamiliar with his work—is truly a career highlight. Fortunately the good folks at NEARfest expertly recorded the entire performance and are making it available for purchase. Even though broken into ten tracks, the CD is really one contiguous musical journey (with one pause halfway through), albeit with myriad phases and thematic explorations. It eschews Roach’s more ambient side (as seen in his new “Immersion” release below) for a more rhythmic approach reminiscent of his earlier work. This was a wise decision for an audience more in tune with prog rock than Roach’s brand of spacey ambience. Aided by a computer-generated projection (sadly missing from the audio experience), Roach takes the audience through a mesmerizing vista of drones, rolling waves of synths, dijideroo harmonics, and blankets of ethereal white noise. At times, as on “Wings of Icarus,” Roach sets up tribal percussion for something more primal and heated. The performance peaks with the mesmerizing “NEARstorm” that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard from Roach. It may be that I’m more inclined toward his more traditional EM side, but I can’t imagine any Exposé readers not digging this. Perhaps in honor of the setting, Roach even flirts with Mellotron strings and e-bowed guitar and the results are simply delicious. Kudos to the NEARfest folks and to Steve Roach for a magical recording.
No doubt many who were in the audience that have looked into Roach’s immense catalog of past and current releases. One of these is the first in a new series of ambient recordings titled Immersion. Those hoping to find the same kind of percussive energy in the NF performance may be disappointed with this CD. Rather, this is another in Roach’s continuing explorations of ambient sounds, most recently seen in the Timeroom series. The scant liner notes reveal little, though the CD print tells the tale: “Created for continuous low level playback.” For 73 minutes, the listener will be immersed in a rolling and slowly flowing blanket of synth drones. Roach occasionally blends in harmonics and overtones that create eddies and currents within the larger stream, though this is essentially one vast and unbroken ambient stream, no doubt the perfect accompaniment for relaxing or therapeutic activity. Taken with the live NF disk, this pair of CDs will give the listener a complete picture of Steve Roach circa 2006.
Related artist(s): Steve Roach
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more