Steve Roach — The Sky Opens
(Projekt 370, 2020, 2CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-02-22
Presented across two discs, this live set, recorded at the 95-year-old First United Methodist Church in Pasadena, California, delivers an immersive experience just shy of two hours, touching on material from Roach’s early career to as-yet unheard sonic creations. For the recording, microphones were placed in various locations throughout the church, capturing the breathing dynamic of the music combined with the powerful acoustics as experienced by the 1200-capacity audience, blended with Roach’s mix from the console, the recording delivers magical ambience and incredible detail, best experienced with a quality set of headphones, but any regular old speakers will do the job just fine. This is one you’ll want to crank up loud, to catch all of the subtleties of Roach’s sonic fabric as it morphs and evolves. The set opens with a surprise piece “Structures From Silence” from his 1984 album of the same title, presented here in succinct form for a little over ten minutes, washing the listener with waves of warmth and emotion. Of the new pieces, there is the magnificent thirty-plus minute “Merge Infinite” that closes disc one, gently evolving up from curious near-silences into a fast-sequenced Berlin style piece with sweeping textures of melodic color intertwining with the fundamental rhythms. Also on disc one is a reworking of a piece from his 2003 Mystic Chords and Saced Spaces album, drifting out in many directions over its eleven-plus minute duration, weaving a rich and mysterious tapestry as it goes, and moving seamlessly into the album’s title track, a delicate sequenced piece over powerful bass pulses. Most of the second disc features pieces reworked from his 1988 ethnic classic Dreamtime Return, with didgeridoo and all, getting a well-deserved live presentation in the majestic sonic space of the ambient church. All taken, The Sky Opens makes for an outstanding full length live release pulling together the past and present in this unique setting.
Related artist(s): Steve Roach
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