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Arc of Passion
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Mantle (on Steve Roach . com )
20 copies left !!! Almost sold out! This is the web-only special limited edition of 1000 copies. 222 minutes. 3-CDs in matte DVD-styled digipak.
Focusing on ambient “zones” created as tone meditations for the living space, immersion : three is a stunning new release in the long-form ambient genre. With one composition per disc, the nearly 4 hours of all-new material on immersion : three display Steve’s quiet mastery of immersive ambient soundworlds.
Gently effective at low volume, the non-dynamic nature of these spaces supports focused day and night activities. Minimal in nature and sonically uninterrupted for 74 minutes per disc, these pieces bring Steve’s years as a sound painter of deep subtle spaces to a rarified point in time.
immersion : three is perfect for creative states, sleeping, reading, long hours at the computer and other functions where traditional music could be considered invasive. This release is especially effective in dissolving the sense of linear time.
“Steve Roach continues to make a rarefied sound as the Mark Rothko of electronic music.” -- John Diliberto, Echoes Syndicated Radio
Immersion: Three is the next in ambient artist Steve Roach's Timeroom series, releases available for purchase only on the Internet (which is probably how most find and buy his music these days anyway._ As with past releases reaching back to 2001's Core, this 3-disc set continues Roach's explorations into ambient atmospherics that allow the listener to inhabit otherworldly environments, within or externally. If you've ever visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Jellies exhibit, you've heard something like Roach's ambient soundscapes as the backdrop for viewing these alien, yet beautiful creatures. This is a good way to describe disc one, "First Light." Its gossamer ripples of sound roll slowly out and engulf the listener in their relaxing and gentle embrace and as a sonic backdrop to meditative or relaxation exercises I can't think of anything better. Disc two, titled "Sleep Chamber," is another 73 minutes (Roach obviously knows the absolute maximum amount of time he can use on a standard CD) of ambient goodness, though this has a somewhat different character. The timbres are much deeper and cavernous, with lower frequencies being pushed and pulled in a way that reminds me of natural respiratory patterns. Again, there's no rhythmic sense of any kind, just steady, endless waves of sound that hover just above the aural threshold and are "felt" as much as they are heard. Disc three, titled "Still," returns to the sort of wispy and ethereal sounds from disc one, though it is perhaps even more"airy," possessing a thinner atmosphere and a somewhat more emotionally ambiguous vibe overall. It's probably my least favorite of the three discs since it can cause a more unsettling and vaguely creepy feeling to come over you if you let it get to you. I guess it just goes to show the sort of range ambient soundscapes can produce in the hands of a master like Roach, though for his fans this comes as no surprise. - Paul Hightower.
The third in his Immersion series, this one is expanded out to three discs, housed in a beautiful DVD sized eight-panel Package with artwork that describes the music as well as the music describes the art. Each disc contains one 73+ minute track with titles that suit the contents perfectly: "First Light", "Sleep Chamber" and "Still. These three drifting ambient expanses float in like a morning fog with multiple layers of subtle textures and delicate tonal fragments embedded within them, constantly growing and flowing, these elements reveal themselves more clearly at times while fading into obscurity at others. The interchange and motion of these components within the 'gray noise' that engulfs the listener is, in part what keeps this set vital and evolving over its nearly four hour duration. It almost seems as if the shifting subtle colorations and patterns within the wall of sound are as much due to subtractive elements within the sonic spectrum as they are due to additive fragmentary melodic flux. One might be as inclined to use this as calming background sounds during waking hours as much as a soundtrack for slumber. But why three discs, one might ask? I've asked the same question, but I may have stumbled on the answer by accident when I had one disc playing in one room and another disc playing in an adjacent room; with the third disc playing in a third room, it becomes evident that these three discs offer something even more interesting and satisfying when played simultaneously, while the listener moves about within their respective ranges. Whether played serially or in parallel, Immersion: Three is another high water mark in Roach's body of work. - Peter Thelen
By now, those familiar with Steve Roach should know what to expect: pure, unadulterated ambient chilling-out bliss. To think about Roach's work as "music" is misleading. You'll find no instruments other than digital synths and loads of processing effects, no singing, not even anything resembling compositional structure. It's true that Roach has been known to engage in some tempestuous - even percussive - material, the recent Storm Surge live album being a good example. Here instead we have another journey between the conscious and the unconscious, what Roach terms the "hypnagogic realm." Roach's albums have been compared to Mark Rothko's paintings, and I'd say the metaphor is apt, as long as the color palette consists of sapphires and deep indigos. This would better match the rolling, liquid waves of airy synths employed as the base elements of Roach's recordings. He acts as a sort of sonic weaver, pushing and pulling various threads though lattices of rumbling and cavernous synth washes, layering everything into a somnambulant tapestry. This isn't meant to be listened to - it's meant to be absorbed. The goal is to aid the listener in a number of possible activities, including self-hypnosis, meditation, or as a backdrop to art or writing. What's intriguing about something so "non-musical" is that it can still elicit an emotional response; parts are serene while others are dark and menacing. Each of the three CDs includes one continuous, 70-plus minute ambient excursion, so pop them into a multi-disk changer, hit auto-repeat, and veg out for a few hours. - Paul Hightower
Disk one's piece is called First light & it revolves around a sweet harmonic sound patten that could well been created by guitar. With which Roach gently pulls and massaging out peaceful clouds of settling ambience. It feels like you're slowly falling over and over through calming space, not fearful of ever hitting the ground, you feel you'll soothingly tumble for ever more. The sunlight of the guitar loop touching your skin ever so often.
Disk two's piece is entitled Sleep chamber and takes you to a darker, slightly more ominous place. Like you're swimming through vast silky darkness, that though is still comforting has slight a foreboding edge about it. It hovers in the feeling of investigating a vast underground cathedral, through the air is nicely cooling and you scan your surrounding with wonder and awe. At the back of you mind your unsure if you have been watched from either high above or down low in the dripping subterranean pools and waterways.
Lastly we have disk three's piece entitled Still, which once more follows on from the darker tone of the second disk. But this time with breathing like ambient ripples of sound, which bring to mind been slowly sucked along in side a vast almost translucent fish as it breaths in & out. The fish making its way along deep oceans cannons, cave networks and forgotten stone citadels. The track really becomes very deeply hypnotic and captivating - almost putting you into a trance-like state where you're completely at one with the ambient ebb and flow.
Another rewarding chapter in this growing series and another fine collection of ambient soundworlds by one of the true master of ambient form. Music to get lost in and thoroughly immersed in its rich slowly evolving, often darkly hued worlds. -Roger Batty
EM pioneer Steve Roach returns to his ambient roots with this enormous dose of psychologically soothing soundscapes. This limited edition set comes in an oversized package adorned with suitably fluid visuals.
The music is equally fluid, flowing with sedate determination designed to separate the audience from reality and plunge them into an inner realm of psychic contemplation. Somber electronic tonalities establish a misty harmonic presence that defies time and space with deceptive constancy. Nebulous drones of crystalline quality generate a placid sonic environment in which change is so gradual as to be invisible. These emanations maintain an unvarying stability with their seemingly unchanging resolution. Passages take forever to progress from one stage to another, employing subtle transformations of ethereal fashion.
Close analysis reveals that these soundscapes indeed possess variations, but the steadfast structure intentionally masks this evolution in elongation. The result is a masterful dedication to passive stimulation.
Tenuous threads of vaporous harmonics undulate with leisurely tranquillity. Delicate sounds create an unobtrusive environment of gently swirling ambience. Pulsations endure with loving serenity, becoming acquiescent sustains that merge into an infinite union.
This music easily banishes tension, freeing the mind for introspective exploration. While approximating a pacific void, the tuneage actually promotes mental activity. Its seemingly emotionless state incites vivid contemplation.
This trio of minimal compositions possess distinctly different characteristics. The first disc ("First Light") captures the transition from dusk to dawn with languid alacrity. The second disc ("Sleep Chamber") is a perfect soundtrack for slumber with its calm descent into somnambulant depths. The third disc ("Still") achieves an exquisite illusion of artful immobility.
This music provides excellent sonic accompaniment for escape. -Matt Howarth
Thanks to Beethoven (and a few of his colleagues, admittedly), “Gebrauchsmusik” has become a four-letter word. Composing for specific purposes used to be highly customary before the “Gesamtkunstwerk” (excuse my German) took over and even today most musicians are ashamed rather than proud if listeners remark how great their music is for falling asleep to or as a background tune for romantic candle light dinners. When used as a spending stimuli in shopping spaces, most have even reverted to using the derogatory term “muzack”. On his “Immersion” series, Steve Roach is openly objecting to this point of view. And he has brought the music to back up his argument.
Of course, concept-wise, this is not just about utility. “Immersion” was inspired by Roach’s personal interest in the “hypnagogic state”, meaning the stage between being awake and sleeping, and is to be seen as the harbingger of a new phase in his work. And yet, he freely admits the music “is perfect for creative states, sleeping, reading, long hours at the computer and other functions where traditional music could be considered invasive.” Before we get to the question of whether or not he is hereby consciously or unconsciously degrading his music, let’s have a look at whether the album actually keeps its promise. Thanks to a recent relocation to a quiet place 50 miles out of Tucson and a complete change-over of his famous Timeroom recording studio, Roach has found the space to fully live his passion and indulged in a veritable composing spree: “Immersion” consists of three discs of almost four hours’ total length, each CD containing a single piece with its own unique ambiance. “First Light” is a light-flooded bank with a panoramic view of an everblooming landscape, “Sleep Chamber” a dense, compressed, deeply breathing black room with no walls, entrances or exits and “Still” a mysterious moonlit night of crystaline harmonics and soft scrapings. I have had these discs running again and again over the last few weeks (and I’m playing them while writing this feature as well), in the most diverse situations and they have certainly made them more agreeable. As it seems, Roach has created various event lines, which he treats like transparencies dirfting on water, gently rocked by the hand of chance. There is no logic development, there is no rationale, there is no destination vector, everything is in motion, yet moves without force. You’ll be able to get back to the sounds in moments of short blockades and to use them as spring boards into new phases of concentration once focus has been newly established. “Non-invasive” is not a bad term for these tracks, but you could also call them “unconsciously pervasive”, as they subtely engulf you. Mission accomplished, therefore, but in this case I didn’t want to just leave it at that. Telemann may have composed excellent digestive music, but its appeal extends well beyond the dinner table and I was interested in whether this set also held this particular quality. Listening to “Immersion” attentively is definitely a trip without safety net and more like a dream of watching the earth from high up above. Because of the absence of all forms one has come to expect of music, the first minutes may be a bit disorientating, as the brain starts to work out what exactly is happening here. But as the answer to that question remains unspeakable, it starts to sink in the floods and becomes one with the waves. And as this happens, just before you reach that hypnagogic state yourself, you can understand why Roach talks about this work as a “possession”: Every detail fits, every meeting of events is a piece of the puzzle. Or as he put it in a recent Ambient Visions interview: “It was nearly impossible to let go of them and stop working on them or listening to them in the final stages of nearly invisible brush strokes...”
The press release talks of these works as having no beginning and no end and that is the only thing I do not agree with: Everything has a beginning and an end and the mere fact these pieces come boxed on silver discs automatically awards them the status of “compositions”. Going one step further would mean offering his music as endless streams on the Internet, which one could turn in to and out of at will, but which would continue to keep playing. Not that it matters for the evaluation of this album. Downgrading it because of its “functional” aspects would mean ignoring that music has reached its highest peak if it is a perfect representation of what anrtist wanted to achieve. Judging from his notes and comments on “Immersion”, Roach has. I’m sure Beethoven would feel the same. -Tobias Fischer