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"The Immersion series is the latest in a line of distinguished long-form ambient works from Roach, and like those that have gone before it will completely envelop you in its subtle shifting sonic sensory stimulation. No rhythm, no melody, just floating ethereal layers, rolling gently over each other as approaching fog, the misty layers in varying shades of grey. The end result is a soothing wall of soft sound that thoroughly relaxes and satisfies. Immersion indeed." - ElectroAmbient Space
The second in an ongoing series of atmospheric zones by master sound painter Steve Roach, Immersion:Two presents a subtle shift from the luminous steady state harmonic current of Immersion:One [Projekt, February 2006]. On this 73-minute longform soundscape, a sinuous weblike mist seems to emanate from the speakers. Mysterious yet calm, this is the perfect sound environment for the deeper hours after midnight or anytime a quiet, engulfing audio landscape is desired. If Nag Champa or Sandalwood incense has a sound this might be it.
Steve Roach's Immersion series is especially effective at low volume playback levels as the non-dynamic nature of this soundworld can support creative states, sleeping as well as reading and other functions where "music" is considered invasive (for example yoga, meditation, massage, or any other activity that calls upon the art of blending). Presented as a continuous zone with no real beginning or end, this 73 minute space is even more effective in dissolving the sense of linear time by simply activating repeat mode on the CD player and letting it play all day and night at a quiet volume level.
Steve writes... "This continuous zone, titled 'Artifact Ghost,' has to be one of my favorites for late-night activity and sleeping. For years I kept coming back to it, as it always feels alive and never-ending, never beginning. This piece was a big part of the inspiration to start the Immersion series. An 8-minute excerpt from the 90-minute original was heard on Texture Maps, and after this glimpse of the ghost I was struck by how many requests there were for a long-form version. Perceptive ears will hear shades of this ephemeral zone as far back as Artifacts, where I wove it into the fabric under the tribal-based grooves. Its smoky presence paid a visit on Cavern of Sirens as well. If you were at any of my concerts in the mid to late 90's, there's a good chance you heard this piece setting the space before my performance. On Immersion : Two I took the opportunity to live with this zone again, to fine-tune and melt the 'Artifact Ghost' even more, creating subtle movements and adding nearly subliminal openings along the way. I was shaping this Immersion : Two version right up 'til the last moment. It's playing in loop mode right now."
"(Immersion is) useful to help the brain switch from the alarming brutalities of day-to-day audio abuses by filling your airspace with background aural opium. It is especially captivating when you’re aware of what you’re hearing. Played when falling asleep or relaxing in your room with headphones and eyes closed, Immersion: One produces a controlled environ and is therapeutic in every way. It’s pure ambient sound with no filler." - MusicTap.net
The feeling for this 70+ minute long trip is akin to floating slowly over a nightime forest, the trees just swaying with a slight breeze. Up above a starless sky hovers cloud bound,ominous chilled light coming from the bone white moon as it appears ever so often though the clouds thick mask. Or maybe a slow descent into cooling cave system that trickles and echoes with strange watery sounds. You feel like you’ve been walking for ages, your feet finally give up and leaving you slouched against the cave wall look out on to slowly tickly underground waterfall that’s lit by your fading touch light, that soon fades altogether leaveing you in velvet enveloping darkness. Roach very successively builds up slow shifting clouds of droning and earth sighing electronic tones and bitch black harmonics, with all manner of drippings and night breezy rushes, making this one dark sound trip you won’t want to take your ears off.
Amazingly Roach has managed to top the high standards of the first part. Making really a more involving and morphing darker flip side to part ones floating white light wonder. Rating: 4 out of 5 -Roger Batty
He may well be just the right person for the job. When Roach started co-defining a genre which, in its first incarnation, had sprung from the quill and imagination of Brian Eno, he was regarded as a pioneer and his music as „progressive“ (whatever that is worth in the music business) – a stark contrast with the contemporary perception of Ambient as music for narcoleptics and Dark Ambient as lullabies for Gothics.
Obviously, Roach had the tremendous advantage of approaching the idea of Ambient from the viewpoint of an open-minded composer and trained musician , instead of from the angle of a sound artist. His ideology, if that word allows for enough freedom, seemed to lie in the recognition that there was a physical logic in the traditional and proven system of harmony, melody and structure and that art needed to take this into account to achieve the greatest effect – instead of replacing it exclusively with timbre.
He therefore aimed at skillfully wiping out all traces of his involvement in their creative process, his albums often appearing exercises in externalizing their composer – one can be sure that there is just as much surprise and astonishment on the side of the audience as there is with Roach himself upon hearing the final result. It is the very fact that the music always sounds as though it could be decoded, its rationale still seemingly within reach of our logic, which awards its impenetrability additional depth and keeps the mind working even when it has long surrendered to the textural aspect of a piece.
In this respect, the album at hand may well be the best example of this technique. Steve Roach, after all, immersed himself in these seventy-three minutes repeatedly for over a decade, experiencing it as an outsider, while continuing to work on its structure. The „track“ appeared as a backing to more rhythmic work, an eight-minute edit appeared on a collection of lost tracks and a looped version was used to get fans in the mood in anticipation of live appearances. "This continuous zone, titled 'Artifact Ghost', has to be one of my favorites for late-night activity and sleeping.“, Roach revealed in his notes to „immersion: two“, „For years I kept coming back to it, as it always feels alive and never-ending, never beginning.“
Some may find it narcissistic for an artist to appreciate his own work in this way, but in this case there is a mistaken argumentation behind that point of view. For a track like „Artifact Ghost“ to work, its compositional method can no longer just consist of placing notes on an imaginary scale. The composer really needs to live with the music as if it were part of his environment. Only if he, too, reacts and responds to the „Zone“ and starts using it for its intended purpose, can he be sure that it has fulfilled its purpose.
This care shows and turns these surreal chord progressions, which meet at intervals to rise up like flames, into a sphere which leaks from the speakers into the room, enveloping everything in an air of continous expectation and a nocturnal light. Something about this music reacts with the chemistry of the space around you – and turns it into an instantaneous installation right from the very first moment.
And yet, there is more. Paradoxically, on a long enough scale, some of the smallest events can be magnified by the lense of time. Here, too the inclusion of barely noticeable layers, sometimes merely playing softly alongside already existing patterns, keeps the listener guessing whether it's all just one gigantic repetition or an intricately planned and mapped-out effort. At around the 22-minute mark, a sweeping sound comes blowing over the soundscape like a hurricane, without ever fully brushing it aside. And in the final minutes, Roach cools „Artifact Ghost“ down to an almost static drone, existing solely as a memory of what preceeded it.
These parallel worlds of roomscape and composition can coexist on „immersion: two“, because it seems to draw its energy from both. Maybe it even needs the two of them to develop at all. As a listener, too, one can appreciate the music as a zone which one can keep coming back to while working or as a composition which allows the mind to wander freely. There's no need to define any new categories: This is still a dark kind of Ambient – if the spatial parameters of that term include one's inner cosmos as well. -Tobias Fischer