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Steve Roach - Darkest Before Dawn CD (album) cover


Steve Roach


Progressive Electronic

4.00 | 8 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is another of those post-Apocalyptic, ethereal Roach recordings where the smell of death from the trenches creeps up your nose.

Either that, or it's a happy easy listening album by the beach, as you read your favourite book whilst half asleep. It's all down to each individual listener.

Everyone will have differing opinions about this super-long, minimal, one track 74 minute recording by the 'Yoda' of Isolationist Ambience. It's either grim and creepy or soothing and relaxing depending on the your state of mind. As is usual from his output at this time, Roach displays an undiluted and relentless approach to the final outcome.

To me it sounds like the vacuum of outer space itself. Like that bit in 'Alien' where the 'Nostromo' silently plummets through space. It's an all consuming and haunting work using only ghostly electronics played at 1mph. This isn't the type of album that is rewarded by close listening. It's most definitely a background soundtrack for those moments where your nightmares are about to take centre stage.

'Darkest Before Dawn' utilises only keyboards. Keyboard chords that are stretched so long that they become drowsy and sleepy. This is no bad thing, as they create an atmosphere of doom.

Despite the unimaginative cover - which I have to admit - sums up the sound within with its black morphing into grey. This is one of Steve Roach's best recordings. Produced at a time when the likes of 'Lull', 'Lustmord' and 'Voice of Eye' were at their peak, this is every bit as good as the aforementioned and sounds effortless in its construction.

The sounds rise and fall like celestial waves amongst thick fog in an alien ocean of sulphur. It's a bit like standing on the edge of a cliff staring into the abyss of nothingness. There's no beginning and no end. Just an ululating tidal wave, without beat. Isolationism in the extreme. 'Brian Eno' fans will love this. Unlike Eno this does have an underlying threat despite being so laid back.

'Darkest Before Dawn' is an album with no meaning other than its own presence. A solitary beacon of life in a dead Universe. Beautiful.

Dobermensch | 4/5 |


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