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Steve Roach - Live in Tucson: Pinnacle Moments CD (album) cover

LIVE IN TUCSON: PINNACLE MOMENTS

Steve Roach

 

Progressive Electronic

4.90 | 2 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars In addition to numerous studio recordings every year nowadays, veteran progressive-electronic/ambient composer Steve Roach releases several live performances, both recent and archived, much to the delight of his devoted loyal followers who blind-buy every release without hearing a second of music from it, and to the intimidation and frustration of newcomers unsure of which titles to explore first! Recorded live at Tucson's Solar Culture Galactic Center (now THERE's a place to visit just based on the name alone!), `Pinnacle Moments: Live in Tucson 02-14-2015' collects five mostly-new instrumental pieces full of a flowing energy, a showcase of a master of the above mention genres delivering one of his most focused and approachable live concert releases to date.

The performance opens gently with the two-part `Desert Eternal', at first a work of pure ambience of soothing synth caresses, whispering ethereal siren cries, tiny patterings of beats slowly rising around weeping spectral and subtle guitar strains over field-recordings of nature at night, all sounding like one slowly exhaling breath. The second passage moves into a darker droning veils, almost cinematic as they equally balance reflection and confrontation, lifting in groaning harshness at its climax. `Endorphin Dreamtime' ascends out of the shadows into reassuring heavens, skittering beats bouncing around chilled-out synth breezes. Heady electronic drowsiness and liquid trickles wrap around the senses in `Going Gone', embracing the ancient world of old with looping tribal drums and wafting flute before morphing into a run of slinking twitchy beats and sly bass murmurs over glacial drones.

But it's the final two tracks that takes the performance to a whole other level. Initially sounding like a throwback to Roach's`Empetus' era, `Skeleton Passage' reveals itself to be relentless and addictive sequencer-driven meltdown, with waves of searing Mellotron-like washes weaving around the maddening beats, sounding like a lost Tangerine Dream piece from the defining Seventies period (prog fans, it also vaguely recalls the electronic/'Tron passages on Norwegian band Smell of Incense's `A Floral Treasury' off their `From the Gates of Deeper Slumber' psych stunner from 1997, but that's likely a complete coincidence). It seamlessly merges with the placid `Spiral Passage', undulating beats racing and slowing with expert precision behind the most beautifully joyful chiming loop before joining with the shadows to fade into eternity once more.

There is no doubt that Steve Roach constantly puts out a steady series of releases, and it can be quite confusing for potential new listeners to know which albums to choose from to begin with. `Pinnacle Moments' would be an ideal starting point, as although as a live performance it's still full of spontaneity and liveliness, the constant percussive elements that eventually show up give this soundwork a more accessible grounding, so it avoids the outright formless and more vague elements of many of his more challenging concerts. It's also the sort of performance that's easier to replay and revisit more often, working both as a sumptuous background listen or an exciting carefully evolving soundtrack to take up your full attention.

`Pinnacle Moments' is a first-rate immersive live document of a veteran progressive-electronic composer at the peak of his abilities effortlessly blending a variety of styles both old and new, whilst also sounding more relevant and vital than ever in our modern era, and even somewhat effortlessly cool at the same time.

Five stars for a perfect Steve Roach release.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |

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