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Steve Roach - Trance Archeology CD (album) cover


Steve Roach


Progressive Electronic

3.91 | 8 ratings

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5 stars Along with a year full of fruitful collaborations and exceptional live performances, the best arrives from American prog- electronic/ambient pioneer Steve Roach with `Trance Archaeology', and what an evocative title that proves to be. The name alone hints at a fusion of earthy old-world sounds and machine-future sleekness, and this November 2019 solo set from the icon presents a continuous seventy-four minute suite of kaleidoscopic sound-collages that still retain Roach's ever-present humanity, where frequent rhythmic elements fused to their core are blurred into ever-evolving oblivion, with the whole making for a deeply hallucinogenic aural dreamworld.

`Spawn Of Time' is an unhurried psychedelic drift, all creaking, gurgling and groaning synths around rising/falling trickles over drowsy ambient drones. When gentle tribal beats begin to enter, they're distorted into other-worldly mystery, with a cool machine iciness fused to ancient earthen textures, and there's a brooding unease rippling throughout this opening seventeen- minute passage. The wondrous `Indigo Moon' is a very special moment - languorous guitar chimes and ruminative piano musings hold a very crystalline and freed quality, and it's rare to hear Steve approach these instruments in such a way.

`Trance Genealogy' may initially be grounded in sparkling electronic fizzes and delicately bouncing Berlin School-flavoured sequencer patterns, but its soothing New-Age caresses ultimately prove uplifting with an intimate fragility. After the `Sigh of Ages'-like `Long Shadow', the cavernous `Birthpulse' relentlessly slinks with murky morphing grooves and cavernous inhaling/exhaling ambient breaths. Former Roach collaborator Robert Logan enters here and contributes various enhancements, enough to subtly twist the disc even further into the alien-like textures that pervaded their 2016 `Biosonic' team-up, and he helps make `Firebreather' ripple with flinching tribal twitches and turn `Unearthed' sludgy and lurching. Closer `Soul Archaeology' is blissful with lulling and soothing ambient veils sweeping across the listener in the most delicate and soothing manner.

For seasoned Roach fans, or for those who like to see ambient/prog-electronic works taken to their artistic peaks, the disc is endlessly immersive and achingly beautiful, being one of his most colourful and diverse releases of recent times. `Trance Archaeology' showcases the artist achieving a truly seamless fusion of vintage and modern styles that make up his various musical personalities today, and makes for surreal, uneasy and darkly addictive listening with constant moments of pristine beauty.

Four and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |


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