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Steve Roach - Second Nature (Steve Roach & Robert Logan) CD (album) cover

SECOND NATURE (STEVE ROACH & ROBERT LOGAN)

Steve Roach

 

Progressive Electronic

3.98 | 4 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars The pairing of up-and-coming England-based electronic artist Robert Logan with progressive-electronic/ambient innovator Steve Roach delivered a superb futuristic fusion of ambience and experimental electronics with `Biosonic' in April 2016, and the duo also offer a completely separate release originating from the same sessions, `Second Nature'. Whereas the former was more-or-less a continuous seventy minute energetic and lively composition with an ever-changing pattern of programmed beats and loops, `Second Nature' offers four separate pieces in a much more subdued, intimate and purely long-form ambient mode, completely focused on piano and restrained use of electronics.

While some sections are more recognizable in style to many of Roach's numerous other recent works, Robert Logan provides crucial contributions such as his glistening, heart-breaking echoing piano that glides in and out of Steve's floating serene drones. If `Biosonic' had a frequently moving alien-like quality, `Second Nature' removes all percussive elements entirely and is stark and precious in comparison, very much a reflective and grounded fragile inner journey. Both of the musicians personal contributions and individual musical voices can instantly be heard, not only truly complimenting each-other, but working in perfect unison together to create an evocative, unhurried soundtrack, sometimes even desolate and lonely but always with traces of hope and light breaking through in the most crucial moments.

Robert's precious ghostly tip-toeing piano hovers in the air as Steve's gentle lulling synth caresses drift in and out of opener `Moment's Notice', a wistful and sadly romantic opener with fleeting pinpricks of warmth to the gentle melancholy and uncertainty. Initially calling to mind the pristine black and white piano shimmerings of Roach's `Etheric Imprints' from back in 2015, the title track `Second Nature' is a dense half-hour aural collage where elements of dark and light weave around each- other trying to gain supremacy. Delicate waves of synths - some forceful, others soothing - permeate the air, with brief gloomy slivers cutting the atmosphere and fleeting glimpses of a victorious piano theme attempt to rise and take hold. The shorter `Shadowspeak' almost entirely strips back the electronics for a crystalline solo piano interlude with downbeat notes occasionally creeping into the mix, and the twenty two minute finale `Mystic Drift' holds groaning cavernous drones and spectral piano with calmer breezes of synths softly attempting to push away the cloudy unrest, all with an eerie cinematic elegance.

A sometimes intangible and even confronting work, some will find `Second Nature' patience-testing, others will be totally captivated by it, witness to the way it completely alters the environment around them, a quality that so few albums can actually achieve. It grows in power and presence with every listen, gradually revealing so many understated little layers and the most deeply personal reflections, and it reminds that sometimes the most shadowy music reveals the deepest beauty. While it's hardly easy listening, `Second Nature' is truly an exercise in darkly exquisite sophistication, and one of the most challenging Roach-related releases of recent years. It makes for two superb side-by-side works from the pairing of Logan and Roach, and hopefully the results from further collaborations between the two will be equally as vital.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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