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Steve Roach - Shadow Of Time

   (1 review)

Within the 35 year orbit of Roach’s relentless dedication to sonic-art as a way of life, Shadow of Time marks a reconnection to the touchstone of Roach’s signature sound: deep breathing atmospherics, textural healings and zen-like immersion spaces. The inner stillness and sumptuous shimmering of warm analog synthesizers slow down time and enhance the moment in ways unique to Roach’s work.

Track Listings:
    1.Shadow Of Time 38:07
    2.Night Ascends 01:18:25
    3.Cloud Of Knowing 11:51
Artist Name(s):
Steve Roach
Release Year: 2016
Ambient, Drone
Album Type:
Compact Disc, Digital / Download
Studio Name:
The Timeroom
Label / Publishing
Label Name:
Projekt Records
Catalog Number(s):
Portland, Oregon
Editions / Reissues
  1. PRO334
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Michael Hodgson

   1 of 1 member found this review helpful 1 / 1 member

2016 has been an interesting year for progressive-electronic/ambient icon Steve Roach. A few months back, the artist released two wildly different collaborative works with younger electronic musician Robert Logan, `Biosonic', which fused distinctively modern twitching liquid beats to subdued ambience, and `Second Nature', a sparse and pinpoint-fragile piano-based work. After a free download release `This Place to Be', `Shadow of Time' sees the artist back on his own and returning to the lengthy droning minimalist pieces of contemplative atmospheres and meditative moods he is often associated with these days, but still evolving and refining his work with the precision and subtlety that only a master of the genre can so carefully deliver.

Despite press release statements comparing this new work to two of Roach's defining early releases, `Quiet Music' and the landmark 1984 dreamy and comforting electronic classic `Structures from Silence', `Shadow of Time' also flirts with darker reflective moods and the most careful of softly melancholic ambience. The title even has a somewhat ominous hint of confronting some inevitable things in life that no-one is eventually immune from being faced with, but the music finds a common ground of the dark and light so that the album is neither too airy or too stark.

The opening 38-minute title track, devoid completely of any sort of percussive elements as is the entire disc, unfolds with an aching and reaching sweeping melancholy, but careful repeated listens reveal some skilfully subtle reprised themes that effortlessly weave in and out of the piece, with hopeful slivers of light teeming with life and reassurance beginning to break through and bring a delicate balance in the second half. Caressing synth washes glide through each-other in dreamy, drowsy embraces in the almost 24-minute `Night Ascends' (which is also available in an extended and reworked 78-minute digital download version that will hopefully see a stand-alone CD release in the near future), bringing a sensation of winding down as the day ends and finding solace in sleep with the promise of a new day ahead. `Cloud of Knowing' probably comes closest to the above mentioned important Roach titles (as well as lightly reminding of the opening title-track off his 2014 classic `The Delicate Forever', just without the psychedelic trickles of that one) with approaching and retreating ebbing fuzzy waves that quickly glisten with warmth, and it provides the close of the disc with a sense of hope and contentment, a quality slowly but constantly revealing itself throughout this entire set.

It's sometimes hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the back catalogue of music Mr Roach has, or the amount of effort it takes for one of his works to gradually sink in. But given enough patient listens where the music is allowed to seep into your consciousness, `Shadow of Time' proves to be utterly captivating and deeply moving, a subtle and timeless work of great depth and genuine emotion that grows in power with each new closer listen. Only time itself will reveal if this is one of his true modern electronic classics, but there's every indication it will go on to be counted among his very best.

Four and a half stars (and add an extra star for Michael Karcz's mesmerizing cover art).

(This review first appeared on the Prog Archives site on 27th September 2016)

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