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Steve Roach & Robert Rich — Waves of Now
(Bandcamp Soundquest Music no#, 2024, DL)

Steve Roach — Structures from Silence (40th Anniversary Remaster)
(Projekt 416, 1984/2024, 3CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2024-02-12

Waves of Now Cover artStructures from Silence (40th Anniversary Remaster) Cover art

Something old and something new. A long time ago in the early 80s Steve Roach was just getting started, with one cassette release Now from 1982 and his first LP Traveler (1983) behind him, 1984 would offer up Roach’s third release, Structures from Silence, a powerful ambient classic offering breathing waves of atmospheric color, quite unlike anything before it. At around 29 minutes per side, it was one of the longest running LPs at that time, with two lengthy tracks spread across the first side, and the title track occupying all of side two. Released on the Fortuna records label, it also received cassette releases both on Fortuna and Steve Roach‘s own Soundquest label. An official CD release of the album came via Projekt records in 2001, sporting different cover art; 2014 brought the 30th anniversary remaster (also on Projekt), an expanded collection featuring four additional tracks spread across two additional discs, the additional material recorded between 2013 and 2014, but in the same spirit as the original album, so much so that it’s difficult to recognize the difference between the two sessions. Finally, it’s 2024 and the 40th anniversary remaster is upon us, the entire three discs remastered by Howard Givens at Spotted Peccary Studios, also being made available in a single CD and single LP format remasters of the original three tracks from 1984. The immersive qualities of Structures from Silence (and that surely includes the two additional discs) in its remastered form are truly astonishing — it’s an epic meditative soundworld that a listener can find themselves completely lost within, and that’s lost in a wonderful way; one could let this music play around the clock for days on end, just as Roach did in his original process of creating it, absorbing the feeling and emotion as the sound envelops your being.

Now, something completely new. From their earliest days Steve Roach and Robert Rich have been like-minded travelers, two mainstays of ambient electronic music, each with a slightly different style, even having recorded several albums together (Strata (1990) and Soma (1992)) along their respective paths. Waves of Now is a live 30-year reunion, Recorded at the Club Congress in Tucson Arizona, on December 5, 2023. The set begins with half a dozen solo pieces by Rich followed by four solo cuts by Roach (with Rich joining on one). These first ten pieces cover a range of styles from sequenced and floating ambient electronics, steel guitar, some with hand drums and various percussion, some with Rich’s flute, offering a representative cross-section of styles from both artists, each piece flowing into the next seamlessly. Roach’s 15-minute “Spirals of Yearning” is the definite standout among all of the shorter pieces in the first half. The final six pieces are true duo collaborations between Rich and Roach, together clocking in at just under an hour, and perhaps the most intense and immersive section of the entire set, their opener “LightBorn” is nothing short of stunning, featuring amazing percussion and didgeridoo courtesy of Roach against a backdrop of beautiful swirling synthesizers. As bonus tracks, the Bandcamp version includes the entire concert optimized in two parts for gapless play between each of the individual pieces.

Filed under: Reissues, 2024 releases, 1984 recordings

Related artist(s): Robert Rich, Steve Roach

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