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Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces - part 1
Darkest Before Dawn
More than any other ambient composer, including even Brian Eno, Roach excels in the creation of extended ambient atmospheres in which, to the unaccustomed ear, it might seem as if nothing at all is happening. The best comparison might be with a night spent somewhere in the wilderness by a city dweller. At first, the wilderness night seems still compared to the cityís traffic noise, sirens and music blaring out of open windows, but it doesnít take long before a whole new world of sounds reveals itself, from crickets to wind in the trees, creaking branches and much more. immersion : one is the first in what Roach promises will be an ongoing series of long form, steady state "zones" created specifically as tone meditations to be played at low volumes in living spaces. You might prefer to think of it as the sonic equivalent of perfume or incense. Instead of boldly presenting big melodies, powerful rhythms or dramatic musical juxtapositions, Roach sets up an atmosphere and then helps it to gently unfold and evolve over the course of 73 minutes.
Donít expect to get up and dance, or even for that matter to tap your foot, because there is no beat. The piece fades in with a gentle harmonic curtain of intermixed drones until the presence of a pleasingly aimless whistling melody makes itself felt, not unlike the musical patterns produced by the vibrating strings of a wind harp. Itís a beautifully melancholic sound and, as immersion : one proceeds, it is joined by sounds that might be angels harmonising, echoes drifting through vast caverns, gigantic zeppelins drifting overhead in pitch blackness - or anything else into which your imagination can transform them.
And, of course, thatís the joy of this sort of music. Whereas the great classical works of Beethoven or Tchaikovsky virtually direct the listenerís thoughts into particular directions, the best ambient music presents us with an opportunity to create our own interior universe in response to the sounds. About fifteen minutes into immersion : one, thereís a snatch of melody with a definite hint of Erik Satie about it, but rather than being the heart of the piece, itís as if someone is whistling it far off in the distance, and the sound is being carried towards the listener by a playful zephyr. The same delicate melody recurs again several times, usually sounding as if it is the result of an accidental interplay of random harmonics, surfacing for a few seconds and then disappearing into the swell and fall of Roachís all-enveloping drones.
There is, however, absolutely no need to analyse immersion : one in this kind of detail. It works equally well as a thin gauze of delicately interwoven ambient soundscapes with which to transform your living room, bedroom or headphone environment into your own personal drifting space.
On this album, Steve plays with sound in the same way that artists play with shade and color. He uses different techniques from his sound palette to create an abstract masterpiece. Some would consider his music to be solely ethereal, and though this is true in many aspects, I think the term "ethereal" has begun to wear itself out. I think it's only fair to describe his music in more technical ways since none of his albums fit neatly in the ethereal music category. Of course, all of them are right at home on the Projekt label. Projekt has done so much to introduce new elements to the ethereal music scene, and because of this it would be a little unfair to call Projekt an "ethereal label." Projekt, along with Steve's ambience, spans across a large variety of subgenres.
Immersion:one is a very lovely album. It's soft and subliminal, not unlike his 2002 work Darkest Before Dawn. The only difference is this: Darkest Before Dawn is quiet and passive and dark, dark, dark... Immersion:one is not quite as dark and is less drone-like. Also it was recorded for a conscious trip instead of an unconscious one. It's a truly stunning album, and I will gladly give Steve 5 stars for it. This one is truly a masterpiece. -Kristen Tilbury
MoodRestful and completely immersive. There is a deeply fluid momentum here that suggests floatation on a drifting river of tone. The artwork aptly pictures this impression - showing an effervescent stream of green light, luminous against a black background. This visual accompaniment strongly affects one's mental imagery - a flow, a cord of music - however, this 'steady state' sound zone eventually absorbs the attentive listener, leaving one afloat on an endless expanse of oceanic drift.
ArtworkA beautiful digipack carries this CD - deepest glossy black shot through with a jet of light. Multilayered, aglow and bearing multitudinous motes of brightness - this emerald band runs centrally across every panel. Text is minimal - only titles and brief credits - nothing superfluous - focus on the stream. On the reverse, the stream is magnified, each detail sparkling before the eye, carried along on currents unseen. A very pleasing package - a nice object to own.
OverallIMMERSION: ONE is one of Steve Roach's most intentionally minimal recordings, as promotional material explains this album is "Gently immersive and especially effective at low volume, the non-dynamic nature of this space can support sleeping as well as creative states, reading and other functions where "music" is considered invasive." Truly beautiful and potentially absorbing - the sound subtly attracts the ear, recedes into the background, resurfaces and holds the attention once more - all with effortless fluidity. Released on Projekt IMMERSION: TWO will appear later in 2006.
Who Will Like This AlbumIf you want something to see how far ambient music can go and still be elegant, something to reduce harmony to its most basic elements - this is the album for you.
The mind is a sponge and is paying far more attention to things that go on, in and around your consciousness. Everyday we hear series of noises that run the gamut from cars, planes, sirens, etc, much of which becomes ignored but the mind absorbs regardless.
Steve Roach, with immersion: one, creates a steady stream of music that is characterized by an ethereal float, a constant bass tone layered by subtle changes of a higher pitch that varies little. Itís as if youíre floating in a gravity-free space with no tether. There isnít much beyond this other than 73+ minutes of an uninterrupted, calming musical elixir of ambience.
This becomes 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 youíre aware of what youíre 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. Itís pure ambient sound with no filler. -Matt Rowe
To me the piece seems to suggest that you're floating just bellow a jungle's lush & dusk lined canopy as the tones slowly move and settle, easing one's body and spirit. Thereís an odd haunting whistling like melody that dips in and out of the clouds of ambience, like a strange magical bird that you keep catching glimpses of as the slow and effortless move under the green lushness of the jungleís canopy. It also feels like the ripples on a pound, the droning and soothing pitches ripple out and growing folding in on themselves. It's never threatening or in a wishy-washy new age way. It's just this neutral sound world that soaks and loosens one into almost sliding off consciousness, but never quite fully going all the way.
Again another wonderfully painted ambient world by one of the true masters of the genre. Perfectly formed long form ambient exploration to simply lose yourself in and drift far, far away. Rating: 4/5
To me the piece seems to suggest that your floating just bellow a jungles lush & dusk lined canopy, as the tones slowly move and settle, easing ones body and spirit. Thereís an odd haunting whistling like melody that dips in and out of the clouds of ambience, like a strange magical bird that you keep catching glimpses of as the slow and effortless move under the green lushness of the jungleís canopy. It also feels like the ripples on a pound, the droning and soothing pitchís ripple out and growing folding in on them selfís. It never threatening or in wishy-washy new age way, It's just this neutral sound world that soaks and loosens one into almost sliding off consciousness, but never quite fully going all the way.
Again another wonderfully painted ambient world by one of the true masters of the genre. Perfectly formed long form ambient exploration to simply lose your self in and drift far, far away. Rating: 4 out of 5 -Roger Batty
Purposely untitled, the single, uninterrupted 74-minute piece is both minimalist and interesting. This music is what I'd expect to hear if I were deserted alone at the edge of the solar system.
I could not tell if Immersion: One keeps evolving and changing harmonically and sonically as it plays on, or if it is repeating a pattern as in Roach's 2002 release Darkest Before Dawn. Long-term study and listening will expand and increase appreciation for this cd. Immersion: Two is set to release late in 2006.