Friday, 13 April 2018

Steve Roach "Structures From Silence" (1984)

Every now and then you stumble on the record you have been waiting to hear, years of adoring ambient music has had me desiring for an experience so simple yet deeply majestic and here it is. American composer Steve Roach's third full length is considered a classic within the genre and it takes one listen to know why. The seventies brought in an electronics revolution thanks to the likes of Kraftwerk and Progressive Rock outfits who embraced synthesizers. Brian Eno emerged at the forefront of this musical movement with his Ambient record series, brandishing the term and laying down foundations that would inspire many artists to come.

One of them is Steve Roach, who on this record focuses much of his efforts into the texture of his synthesizers, which at the time were big old clunky machines that had lots of knobs, dials and cables to manage. Working them was a true craft that would of taken Steve much time to achieve the gloriously soft and airy tones heard on this record. That may of made it sound like a novelty of sorts but the power and magic of these finely tuned instruments gives tremendous weight to stirring an enchanting atmosphere that's stood the test of time.

In terms of its composition, many sounds are temporal and devoid of any obvious melody or structure. These three songs, thirteen, seventeen and almost thirty minutes long focus on the arrival, duration and departure of astral synths that find chemistry with one another in their passing encounters. The length of one note bleeds into another an in some instances their unions persuade with the power of a chord but its temporal nature diverts the pace and measure required for melody to emerge, giving enigmatic influences to the instruments ability to memorize with its aesthetic.

The atmosphere and visions it conjures may be rather personal. Its smooth, calming persuasion and gentle pace is undoubtedly relaxing and soothing but the places it takes you may differ from one listener to the next. For me a feeling of immersion in a moment takes place. Time stands still and one can gaze their eyes upon the details that a slice of time has hidden in its arcane mystery. Color and cosmic wonder cross the mind in what to many might be star gazing music, to look up and ponder, to look inwards and reflect. Steve's compositions put the mind at ease and subsequently opens a door to deeper thoughts locked in the crevasses of the mind.

Rating: 9/10