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Sigh of Ages by Steve Roach
Structures From Silence (2001 Remastered Ed.)
Arc of Passion
& Mark Seelig: Nightbloom ~ SALE $5
"Man remains a mystery to himself. He has a nostalgia for Being, a longing for duration, for permanence, for absoluteness - a longing to be. Yet everything that constitutes his life is temporary, ephemeral, limited. He aspires to another order, another life, a world that is beyond him. He senses that he is meant to participate in it."
Emotions quietly stir and resonate in this deeply self-reflective album exploring the terrain between melodic electronic/ambient and modern minimalism. These six pieces utilize gentle melody, harmony and sonic tonality to poignantly reflect upon the passage of time, life lived, lives passed and a time of renewal: a sigh of the ages expressed in sound.
Sigh of Ages is the result of extended periods of solitude and personal reflection for acclaimed composer Roach. Resulting directly from dynamic personal and cultural events, these pieces developed over time and in the moment. After 10 months of early morning and late night sonic meditations, Roach collected these various pieces and found they portrayed a poetic theme of sonic interpretations from this experience. Sculpted and refined in the artist's deft hands, the source material of life itself took on a voice that spoke from a deep emotional well of subtle contemplation. A sacred realm of inner reflection.
"The title came to me as I was creating the pieces," Roach recalls. "Titles always seem to emerge through the hours of working on the music combined with the place the sound takes me. What emerged was the sense of what it feels like to release a big sigh after a challenging time or a long run in life. A poignant sense of nostalgia and longing, breathing a collective sigh of release which carries forth into psychological and spiritual space. That is where the music and eventually the title grew from."
Sigh of Ages taps into a lineage of signpost releases starting with the '80s melodic era of Structures from Silence and Quiet Music up through the textural tour de force of 2003's Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces and 2009's Dynamic Stillness. For this journey, Roach drew on his essential collection of beloved analog synthesizers including a classic 40-year-old Arp String Ensemble, a historic polyphonic synthesizer that breathes life into the track "Morning of Ages," swirling and rolling upon itself like the strong currents of a rushing mountain river. "The View from Here" unfolds in a stately motion on a majestic sequenced pulse with voluminous melodic synthesizer clouds unfolding along the horizon. This alchemy of sounds creates a deeply nuanced album filled with shadow and light, unique within the language of Roach's soundworlds.
While the passage of time and expansive breath is an ongoing theme for Roach, the reflections and perceptions expressed on Sigh of Ages delves into a contrasted intimate space only accessed in times of solitude. It is the deeply-layered, subtley-nuanced emotional language which is the ongoing, unseen undercurrent of our lives.
Steve Roach nos presenta un nuevo disco bajo el título Sigh Of Ages en un precioso digipack con unas fotografías que ya nos indican a la perfección por donde va a girar las composiciones que aquí nos vamos a encontrar.
Sigh Of Ages son seis composiciones donde el compositor poco a poco nos va mostrando sus conceptos musicales, nos va mostrando lo que queremos escuchar, lo que esperamos de un trabajo de él, pero siempre nos sorprende y nos aporta algo más.
En Sigh Of Ages nos encontramos temás melódicos y profundos, temas donde nos sumerge en las profundidades pero con alguna sorpresa, y es que la parte secuencial del segundo corte titulado "The View From Here" es impagable, una fusión entre la mejor música subterránea de Roach y las secuencias de la Escuela Berlín. Tras esa avalancha de sonido, los temas van discurriendo poco a poco, introduciendonos en ese mundo capaz de crear el maestro Roach, con esos sonidos subterráneos, ese minimalismo electrónico que le ha caracterizado y que nos sigue apasionando.
Steve Roach es un gran maestro, ha tocado las vertientes más interesantes de la música electrónica, ambient, electrónica, escuela Berlín y sigue mostrando que es un maestro, que sus composiciones nos sigue aportando ese algo especial, ese algo que siempre estamos buscando cada vez que escuchamos uno de sus trabajos y este no es una excepción.
Sigh Of Ages, título muy apropiado para este disco, porque es como un susurro que nos acompaña durante más de setenta minutos para introducirnos en mundo misterioso, en un mundo en el que no sabemos si podremos ser capaces de salir, porque cada vez que escuchoamos un trabajo de Steve Roach queremos seguir escuchando más, y más, y más...
All art stems from a deeply personal space, and the output takes its form based largely on where we are emotionally as well as artistically at the time we create. When we're happy we write love songs or paint in bright colors. When we're sad, the songs get morose and packed with minor chords, and the paintings get darker and more brooding. So when a work originates from a point of taking a long, introspective look at who the artist is, where he's come from and how he views life in general, the result is going to be loaded with varied emotions and shifting forms of expression. This is the nexus point of of Steve Roach's newest offering, Sigh of Ages.
Crafted during what Roach describes as extended periods of solitude and personal reflection, Sigh of Ages understandably looks back over Roach's shoulder and is unapologetically nostalgic in spots, from the frequent familiarity of tone and structure to the use of older equipment, including a 40-year-old Arp String Ensemble. At the same time, however, Sigh of Ages has the freshness of imposing the craft of the artist of now on the artist of then to alcheimize the two periods into a unique flow. "The View From Here" is such a track, where the sequencer-driven Steve who first tapped and twiddled knobs in the 80's and then returned to his analog synths 20 years later, works crisply across the top of a mellow drift brought in by the Structures From Silence-era Steve by way of virtually all his endless deep-looping excursions since.
There are also passages here that are as outrightly melodic as Roach has allowed himself to be in quite a while. "Morning of Ages" is an outpouring of emotion that borders on a wordless confessional. It packs feelings of remorse, longing and possibility — or perhaps what you hear in it is what you bring to it. But you will hear it.
While it may sound entirely too posturingly metaphysical to say so, Sigh of Ages imparts a feeling of bare-souled honesty in every track, and this is what, in part, makes it such a stunningly gorgeous CD. It is Roach telling you that this is who he was, and is, and wanted to be, and hopes still to be, all in one go. From a listening standpoint it's deep and surrounding, warm and, in spots, pleasantly energetic. This is a disc you will be listening to over and over.
Kudos also go to Chuck van Zyl for his content-perfect cover photography.
Sigh of Ages is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD. — John Shanahan
Giunto nel 2010, questo Sigh Of Ages si pone in contraddizione totale con quanto detto poco sopra: la sua ricetta non è certo nuova, eppure il suo stile lo rende in grado di non assomigliare a nessuno dei suoi predecessori. Al suo interno vi troviamo il più canonico dei linguaggi elettro-ambientali - quello stesso che Roach aveva avviato in album come “Structures From Silence” e “World's Edge” - affrontato però da una prospettiva del tutto inedita. Il soundscape è dominato da arpeggi melodici, sui quali s'inseriscono flussi lievi ed acuti: non c'è spazio per la classica magniloquenza del californiano, né per le complesse architetture sintetiche divenute trademark della scena a lui affine. Così “Quelling Place” sembra provenire direttamente dai lavori sperimentali della coppia Jansen/Barbieri, “The View From Here” offre un salto temporale enorme, ripercorrendo i sentieri minimalisti di “Traveler” ed “Empetus”, mentre “Return Of The Majestic” flirta con strutture elettro-esotiche ricordando da vicino Michael Amerlan e il suo “Ascendences”. Nel quarto d'ora di “Sentient Breath” un flusso rarefatto di droni gelidi ricoprono e divorano il sostrato melodico, che se ne libera mostrandosi nella sua purezza nella successiva “Morning Of Ages”, prima di abbandonarsi a rifrazioni e ipnosi nella conclusiva “Longing To Be...”.
Sigh Of Ages è un disco del tutto estraneo – per struttura dei brani e stile – alle produzioni del Roach degli anni 2000. E' un caleidoscopio retro', che cammina su quelle strade tralasciate in precedenza dal musicista e che colma un vuoto (di cui probabilmente non ci si sarebbe accorti) con un tasso qualitativo altissimo. E' la riprova, se mai ce ne fosse bisogno, che la ricerca di Roach – nonostante le “batoste” subite negli ultimi anni dalla critica non settoriale – prosegue imperterrita, pronta a regalare ancora gioielli di suggestione a chi gli dedichi attenzioni senza lasciarsi fuorviare dai pregiudizi. -Matteo Meda
This release from 2010 offers 74 minutes of timeless ambience.
In the first track, textures of languid temperance are established and allowed to unfurl in their seemingly unchanging fashion. Yet there are changes as the breathing harmonics gradually indulge in subtle variations, transforming their minimal definitions in ways that primarily impinge upon the listener's subconscious. The next piece features a twinkling keyboard loop that winds through a series of undulating textures. These latter atmospheric layers are set in contrasting modes: one is airy and ethereal, while the other possesses a subtle vibrancy. The conjunction of these elements produces a smooth flow that is quite engaging. The third track concentrates on approximating a high altitude soundscape in which pensive tones pulsate in a relaxed manner that instills a sense of aerial liberation. Unfettered by extraneous matter, these sonic zephyrs easily communicate this freedom with their expansive whispers. In the fourth piece, rarefied tonalities are elongated into structures of infinite proportion. These melodics are subdued to a condition of stretched harmonics. A distinctly celestial demeanor is generated. Track five features a stronger keyboard presence as piano chords slither through tonal layers. A gentle rhythm is present, blending with soft effects of a sparkling nature. A mood of tranquil majesty is the result. In the last piece, a selection of regal textures drift in airy conjunction, intermingling to produce a flow of stately evocation that leaves the listener spiritually vitalized.
A heavenly touch can be discerned in this gentle tuneage, evoking the passage of angels on nearby breezes, their wings softly caressing the listener's ears with a whisper of heavenly tonalities. At the same time, this music is rich with the flavor of ageless beauty, as Roach achieves auralscapes that convey the mood of timeless ambience, serenity that has always been and will endure long after the passage of man from this world. As if these sounds were trapped in stone and allowed to seep forth for the edification of passers-by.
Immobile behind slow flights of a dark and pensive synth, Quelling Place evolves with great strikes of wings from a nomad synth, drained by the weight of its wandering. A slow structure with heavy oscillations, Quelling Places floats with the grace of a nocturne solitude where melancholic sighs overhang a synth with dark minimalist loops which turn and turn with the heaviness of an insomniac dreamer. Lighter and merrier, The View from Here unrolls on fine loopy sequences which whisper and lurch mesmerizingly around heavy pads of a synth with slow modulations. A superb track which is not without pointing out the marvelous universe of Structures from Silence and Quiet Music. Here, like everywhere on Sigh of Ages, the movement is minimalist and ravels gently in a poetic and lyric universe where fine dark layers of a synth cross some more clearly and vivifying. A superb track that will bring you beyond dreams! Sentient Breath is a long atonal sigh where multiple synth layers intersect delicately in a long sound murmur. A night murmur where thoughts hatch in a head filled of regrets and bitterness. At the very least, it is what sticks the most to my perception. A long diurnal wandering which is throwing in the gleams of Morning of Ages and its natural grace which spouts out such a sunrise after a morose moon. The sound is always so floating. Synth strata which float and whirl delicately in a more vivified dawn, tending sighs of a roaming night, on a structure where the silence of angels can be hear with through a radiant and gracious synth. Some very good Roach!
After these 2 tracks to rhythm antipodes, Return of the Majestic offers a splendid lively structure with fine sequences which spin and undulate in loops among delicate layers of a synth as poetic as oniric. Percussions and sound effects unique to the world of Steve Roach are freeing from this long synth incantation, where this soft tumult brings a more aerated dimension to album stuff of sighs of ages and the repercussions of bitterness coming of it. A superb track whose soft rhythm shapes a strange static procession as bewitching as paralyzing, throwing a balsam on pains of time. Longing to Be… concluded this meditative masterpiece around heavy synth layers which are twisting slowly on a dark structure. An ambient structure which evolves on huge synth flights, such as big threatening birds which overfly in zigzag the intimacy of souls in perdition. Heavy, intriguing and dark, Longing to Be…drifts as a threat for introspection. As a monster in our wardrobe which has the keys of our spirituality.
After Live at the Grace Cathedral I wondered where Steve Roach could go in its quest for introspection. Sigh of Ages is not the answer, because it’s obvious that Roach is constantly tugged by his spirituality and the duality of his emotions. Sigh of Ages is rather revealing about this. At all events, I don’t do in psychoanalysis but in chronicles of EM. And Sigh of Ages is colossal and astonishing of introspective truth. An album extremely poignant and seizing, where the music of Steve Roach goes through the recesses of our own introspection. A sublime album which shows that the American synthesist doesn’t stop to charm and amaze with a music without movements, or almost, but filled with feelings as intense as our sighs of our ages. It’s been more than 30 years that Steve Roach is faithful to him and builds musical wonders which follow in Indian file with an astonishment unceasingly renewed. Thus, you will not be surprised if I wrote that Sigh of Ages is impossible to circumvent and a masterpiece to become for fans of ambient music and constructive daydreams which joined a long list of albums that have this unique signature of the Master of ambient. A great Chef-D'oeuvre and one of the top 5 this year, ambient and cadenced included with the strong I Remain from The Glimmer Room.