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Sigh of Ages
Immersion Five - Circadian Rhythms
Following their collaboration Stream of Thoughts (Projekt, 2009) Roach and Wøllo reunite to travel The Road Eternal: an electronic/ambient path filled with passion and beauty. Six engaging and expansive rhythmic sequencer-based tracks intersperse with ambient zones and soaring electric guitar textures highlighting sparse, arching thematic lines.
Wherein their first collaboration blended a number of shorter passages into a spellbinding whole, The Road Eternal is six longer compositions that build upon a basis of complex, inventive and hypnotic sequencer patterns. Intricate and ever-changing rhythmic cycles merge with melodic phrases creating a compelling groundwork that propels the music forwards. With inspiration drawn in part from classic trance-inducing electronic music with early German roots, the project takes on an interwoven structure draped with harmonic and melodic passages. The route through the music offers different perspectives to hear or "see" on every listen.
This is the sound of big skies, open roads and soaring thoughts pulling one towards the next destination; reflected in the music is the counterplay of long and meditative rythmic zones and constellation-like melodic elements filled with space. The tracks transpose two different worlds: Steve's southwestern desert habitat and Erik's home base in Norway. The sum of these two environments becomes a hybrid landscape of new discovery. "We are both passionate about the observation of nature and the poetic character of natural surroundings," Erik says, "The ways in which we relate to this, as well as the awareness of the ongoing passage of time. These ideas have been a driving force behind our whole artistic careers, and it is strongly reflected in this collaboration."
"In our music," Steve reflects, "a central pulse and steady momentum is present. The sensation is a consistent feeling of travel. Whether you're driving, flying, riding a train or some other form of transportation, the sound and vibration enters your body and becomes part of the meditation of the travel experience. Listening to these tracks while traveling allows the music to merge with the experience arriving at an integrated place where thoughts and imagination are unified as a soundtrack for one's own road movie. The metaphor of 'the road eternal in the creative process' is the other element of the album title: the road the artist travels with the allure of discovering what is next around the corner."
The project began in early 2010 and shifted into high gear when Erik traveled to Tucson that fall to perform at the SoundQuest Fest. After the concert, the two artists holed-up in The Timeroom Studio for a few days channeling the energy from the fest to work non-stop towards The Road Eternal's completion. Roach states, "This is the music I have wanted to create with Erik since I first heard his classic Traces release way back in the 80's."
With Steve on analog sequencing, electronic percussion and most of the zones and atmospheres, Erik focuses on his processed, textural, and melodic elements while performing on various guitars and guitar synthesizers. The Road Eternal strikes a perfect balance of the artists' two distinct styles and common ground.
The sound is vibrant, emotional, full of shimmering light and saturated with optimism. With each artist having devoted over 30 years to their art, this album flows with the understanding and skill that comes from this experience, bringing their specialties together in the true spirit of collaboration.
Steve Roach y Erik Wollo, solo de escuchar estos nombres a uno ya se le ilumina la mente soñando con lo que nos podemos encontrar en este trabajo, y es que cuando dos magos se juntan, los sueños se hacen realidad.
Projekt acaba de publicar "The Road Eternal", el nuevo trabajo de estos dos magos de la musica llamados Steve Roach y Erik Wollo.
Tras su anterior colaboración "Stream of Thoughts", estos dos magníficos compositores se vuelven a reunir para crear este "The Road Eternal", seis composiciones en las que las secuencias, los ritmos y los ambientes que solo estos dos genios saben crear, vuelven a estar presentes.
El disco comienza con una larga suite de más de veinte minutos donde se comienza a vislumbrar lo que estos dos hombres juntos son capaces de hacer, precisamente, esa suite es la que le da el título a este trabajo. En los siguientes temas, las secuencias y ambientes atmósfericos de Roach y las guitarras sintetizadas de Erik siguen haciendo acto de presencia en un trabajo que no nos da descanso, un verdadero placer auditivo para disfrutar de la magia de la música.
La verdad, que cuando se encuentra un trabajo como este, sobran las palabras, solamente necesitamos cerrar los ojos y dejar volar nuestra mente ante la música que se apodera de nosotros y es que la música de estos dos magos, como el propio título del disco nos dice, es una "carretera eterna" donde poder disfrutar de la música sinfin, porque escuchar a estos dos genios, es un disfrute que nunca debe de parar.
Synthesist Roach meets guitarist Wollo and The Road Eternal is the delightful result. The album is full of gentle movement and colour and is something of a showcase for the subtle rhythmic complexity possible in sequencer-based music, its percussion patterns being more intricate and intriguing then typical old-school Berlin ambient trance despite the clear lineage. The widescreen harmonies are deep, warm and rich; Wollo's synthesised guitar phrasing on tracks like "The Next Place" and "Travel By Moonlight" is especially tender and haunting. Needless to say, it's a good album for long trips in the car.
The name of the album that takes me on a journey this time is 'The Road Eternal', built up with six long tracks and filled with hypnotic and complex patterns. This time it is not the ambience that navigates the electronic structures, but the total fusion between the rhythm and background atmosphere. The energetic pieces, sound textures of Steve and gentle touches of Erik's guitar expand into such a depth that penetrate even my inner world, tempered in boiling water and ardent fire of noise and power electronics. As soon as the album was created around a conceptual idea of big spaces during long travels, it absolutely captures my imagination and drives it towards the final destination hidden behind horizon. Even after listening to many hours of Steve's music, I stay in deep meditative mood during all of the CD's playtime without any shadow of boredom. This is because the melody is constantly evolving, full of pulses, percussion and changes of tempo. Restless energy and endless creativity break the boundaries of space and time continuum. Both artists complement each other, creating a state of art that definitely puts a huge and fat milestone in the history of ambient music. After playing this album for at least twenty times, I feel the great honor to witness this kind of experience. -Andrew
I’m pairing these reviews together because they more or less stem from the same creative space. Erik Wøllo came to Tucson, Arizona, as part of Steve Roach’s SoundQuest Fest 2011. He played his superb piece, The Gateway, live during the show. Afterward, Wøllo and Roach seized upon the creative momentum that came out of the concert and spent the next few days at Roach’s Timeroom studio finishing up work they had started earlier in the year, which would become The Road Eternal.
It’s not easy for me to be objective about Live at SoundQuest Fest because I was there, and it was something of a defining moment for me as an ambient music fan. I’ve been into Roach’s music since the 80s and am particularly appreciative of his tribal work. I was out in the desert for the first time. And I was among a gathering of my electro-tribe, meeting many of the people whose music I’ve come to appreciate over the years. So listening to this slice of Roach’s day-closing set carries a lot of connotations for me.
The work here lands squarely in future-primitive space, intertwining rapid-fire analog/sequencer foundations and long, drifting pads with deep, shamanic excursions. It kicks off with the nearly 30-minute “Momentum of Desire,” beginning with Roach working his synths solo, shifting from beatless washes to pulsing energy. The mood transforms as Byron Metcalf enters to bring a bit of tribal juju with shakers, rattles and drums at the start of “Medicine of the Moment,” and we leave the present behind. This is the start of a 25-minute long deep shamanic groove that runs through the fiery “Thunderwalkers.” As Roach and Metcalf prepare the space, didgeridoo players Dashmesh Khalsa and Brian Parnham enter, each taking up a six-foot stick, to trade otherworldly tones and pour them into the proceedings. The feeling takes on a sacred air as the quartet craft a largely improvised, live-looped atmosphere that’s all about instinct and existing in the energy of the moment. Musical intent is left behind in lieu of crafting a response-driven sound-image. It wraps around you. Roach’s ocarina slithers through; the didgeridoos bark, snarl and cajole; shadowy drones lay over everything, As the set moves into “Thunderwalkers,” Metcalf’s rhythms crack the darkness and energize the space with a living pulse. Power absolutely courses through every moment of this track. I love the chant sounds around the 7 minute mark–it’s Roach leaning into the mic with a “yyyah,” the single voice processed into a tribal call. Khalsa leads the way through the short, transformational track “Morphic” with more growling and yelping didge, the sounds intensified and thickened by Roach at the soundboard. Then it’s left to Roach to cool down the moment and bring it back toward the now with the pure synth work of “Off Planet Passage.” Echoes of Metcalf’s skins anchor the sound as it winds toward a quiet close.
Aside from capturing the energy of this superb grouping, Live at SoundQuest Fest also benefits from the way it carries reminders and hints of work past and future. The tribal sections call up thoughts of Dream Tracker, The Desert Inbetween and Serpent’s Lair–while also hinting at that disc’s upcoming follow-up; the analog work pulls from the energetic sources that inform and infuse so much of Roach’s recent solo work, including Immersion 5, which pulls from “Off Planet Passage.” An excellent record of a fantastic event.
If SoundQuest pulls the listener down into primal-memory introspection, The Road Eternal lifts them into a more optimistic and upbeat state of mind. The energy of rhythmic sequencers kicks in right away, a liquid shimmer that gleams across most of the tracks. Wøllo’s guitar hums and sings its way through the mix in an easy lilt that plays neatly off the geometries of the sequencer runs. (It’s at its finest in the cool coursings of “The Next Place” or softly sighing as the voice in “Night Strands.”) This is a work about velocity and movement, about going forward. Unlike the duo’s previous effort, Stream of Thought, which existed a moment at a time, The Road Eternal sets its focus squarely on the horizon and heads for it. But it’s not all pedal-to-the-metal. After revving the engine with the title track, “Depart At Sunrise” coasts into view, a panoramic vista opening slowly in front of you. The sequencers get dialed back a touch to make space for long pads and crunchy analog synth effects. “First Twilight” appropriately slows to a gentle ambient drift, Roach and Wøllo tinting their shared sky with lush aural colors fading into night. “Travel by Moonlight” eases the tempo back up, underscored by a rich, repeating bass pulse. Wøllo’s guitar soars as counterpoint.
Roach notes on his site: “Listening to these tracks while traveling allows the music to merge with the experience arriving at an integrated place where thoughts and imagination are unified as a soundtrack for one’s own road movie.” I’ll attest to that. The Road Eternal has softened many a commute and provided the incidental music for thought-filled evening drives home. Listen, and see where the music takes you.
Iniciamos esta interesante audición adentrándonos en la expansiva atmósfera sonora del tema “The Road Eternal” a través de un reflexivo viaje por la inmensidad existencial de lo imperecedero, de lo inmortal, de lo eterno,… en definitiva, introduciéndonos en el interior de la más pura esencia divina. Tras más de veinte minutos de constante exploración emocional a través de una continua evolución en su dinamismo melódico, la composición “Depart At Sunrise” se abrirá dentro de nuestra mente para llevarnos a la contemplación de la belleza sonora más sublime hasta llevar a nuestro espíritu a su equilibrio más universal y satisfactorio. Unas texturas sonoras puramente vanguardistas que tendrán su continuidad conceptual en el tema “The Next Place” a través de una nueva intensidad musical mucho más vibrante y nebulosa que nos llevará directamente a las puertas de “First Twilight”, y sus sublimes trasfondos evanescentes. A continuación, “Travel By Moonlight” nos permitirá disfrutar de unos momentos únicos gracias a esta ornamentación sonora a través de una detallada estructura musical de incomparable belleza artística. Una estructura decorada con múltiples e intensos detalles sonoros que, en el tema que pone cierre a este excelso álbum, “Night Strands”, les dejará fascinados e irremediablemente concentrados en el placentero disfrute de esta delicatesen musical. “The Eternal Road”, cuando la música se transforma en el lenguaje perfecto para estimular nuestro espíritu y nuestra alma. ¡¡¡Disfrútenlo!!! -Lux_Atman
“The Road Eternal” offers up an enjoyable and rewarding mixture of: expansive ambience, soaring atmospheric guitar textures, lite-techno ambient beat scapes, and genreal melodic & atmospheric ambient electronics.
The album brings together highly respected US ambient artist Steve Roach with Norwegian mood maker & ambient guitar -scaper Erik Wøllo for their second collaboration following 2008’s “Stream Of Thought”. Each track on offer here sees the pair weaving together a wonderful partnership of build and receding beats scapes, analogue and digital synths textures, and felt to soaring processed guitar / guitar synths textures.
The album offers up six tracks in all and each track lasts between the four and a half minute to twenty one minutes a picec; through most of the tracks hit near or around the ten minute mark- so the pair get chance to nicely explore their melodic and atmospheric themes, and the listener gets time to get nicely submerge in the tracks unfold & ebb.
Most of the tracks here have some beat based electronic or subtle ethno rytmic element present, and these nicely drift in and out of the tracks structures. Through there are a few purely synth ‘n’ processed guitar tracks that nicely add contrast & more subtle mood making edge to the album as a whole.
There’s nothing really experimental or edgy about “The Road Eternal”, but if you enjoy well-made, melodic and atmospheric up-beat ambience & mellow beat ribbed electrioncia you’ll find a lot to enjoy here. 4/5 - Roger Batty.
Wollo and Roach bring their different perspectives and environments to the music. Whereas Steve Roach lives in the expansive desert southwest of the United States, Wollo has his home in the land of majestic fjords and mountain rivers.
“We are both passionate about the observation of nature and the poetic character of natural surroundings,” says Wollo. “The ways in which we relate to this, as well as the awareness of the ongoing passage of time. These ideas have been a driving force behind our whole artistic careers, and it is strongly reflected in this collaboration.”
“In our music,” indicates Roach, “a central pulse and steady momentum is present. The sensation is a consistent feeling of travel. Whether you’re driving, flying, riding a train or some other form of transportation, the sound and vibration enters your body and becomes part of the meditation of the travel experience. Listening to these tracks while traveling allows the music to merge with the experience arriving at an integrated place where thoughts and imagination are unified as a soundtrack for one’s own road movie. The metaphor of ‘the road eternal in the creative process’ is the other element of the album title: the road the artist travels with the allure of discovering what is next around the corner.”
Erik Wollo and Steve Roach started to work on The Road Eternal at the beginning of 2010. The final sessions took place in the fall of the same year, when Wollo traveled to Tucson (Arizona) to play at the SoundQuest Fest. After the concert, the two musicians finalized their ideas in Steve Roach’s famed The Timeroom Studio. The sessions lasted several days. “This is the music I have wanted to create with Erik since I first heard his classic Traces release way back in the 80′s,” says Roach.
The Road Eternal exhibits the talent of two of electronic music’s most recognizable masters. It is another excellent ambient-trance album to add to your collection. -Angel Romero
So, my most played ambient albums of 2011 (new to me, maybe not new to the rest of the world) are: (1) The Road Eternal by Steve Roach and Erik Wøllo – I wasn’t a huge fan of their first collaboration, but this was a hit right from the first play. A late entry for the year (November) it quickly rocketed to first place, partly on the strength of the second track, “Depart at Sunrise”, which is so Bladerunneresque it hurts, but mostly because the whole album is awesome. (2) Sleep Theory Volume 1 by Altus – The second track, “Session 2″, is a rival for Steve Roach’s “Structures from Silence” for the perfect track to write to. It was beaten by “Depart at Sunrise” by just one playing. Best of all, it’s a free download, so there’s no reason not to give it a go. (3) Monsters (OST) by John Hopkins – I loved this movie and made note of the soundtrack as I was watching. Didn’t realize that I’d actually bought the album in December 2010 but never listened to it. Minus some jumpy moments, it’s a brilliant writing accompaniment. Listen to this track and see what you think. (4) Conception, various artists – A wonderful anthology of “beatless, serene ambient music”. Here’s the trailer. Also free, although I can’t find a direct link to the download page. Worth hunting for. (5) There’s no clear album at this position, so I thought I’d just shout out to a few that I loved as well: For Nihon (another anthology, this time to benefit Japan after the earthquake early in the year), Bliss Was It In That Dawn To Be Alive by Arms and Sleepers, The Desert Inbetween by Steve Roach and Brian Parnham, and, finally, just about everything by Loscil, including their new album Coast/Range/Arc.
And that’s. I’m coming to the end of a new novel at the moment (hence my tardiness at posting anything anywhere) so this music is getting a real hammering. Meanwhile, I’m eagerly anticipating the tunes of 2012 and the words they will inspire. -Sean Williams, “the premier Australian speculative fiction writer of the age” (Aurealis), the “Emperor of Sci-Fi” (Adelaide Advertiser), and the “King of Chameleons” (Australian Book Review)
The whole thing starts as if we were in the cosmos, sat by the edge of a river which sparkles of gleaming arpeggios. Slender musical layers, from what seems to be a fusion synths and guitars, drive slow lamentations which are criss-crossing and floating lazily in a fanciful firmament where tranquility filled the space. The heavy, ambient and dramatic effect is not without recalling the analog years of Ashra Temple. A rhythm is drawing in the background, but it’s without sequences. There are nervous synth pads of which hatched chords collide, forming a chaotic rhythmic movement which skips nervously. This linear rhythmic line dined by jolts is simply brilliant. It pounds with a soft frenzy and rolls in loop as wavelets on a sea which wakes up. And the sea will wake up! Little by little this rhythm livens up with the adding of fine and subtle pulsations / percussions, while the sky becomes strewed by fine musical shooting stars which sparkle and fly like in the analog years of Schulze and that slow astral layers fly over The Road Eternal by delicate movements of wandering. It’s an idyllic fusion that leads us halfway, there where guitars laments pierce this hatched rhythmic and the tempo becomes livelier. We are in deep in Steve Roach musical labyrinths with a suave and enchanting evolution which is finely wriggling with the addition of heterogeneous percussions and pulsations unique to his universe, whereas delicate morphic layers coming out of a synth /guitar fusion are suspended and undulate in contrast with this progressive cadence. Minimalist loops of The Road Eternal's fragile rhythm hiccup on a quavering progression. Always so vaporous this rhythm breaks itself with a nervously syncopated approach which pounds fervently beneath bewitching guitar layers and howling. A solitary guitar that let goes superb morphic solos. Isolated solos on a tempo without sequences but which quavers over an outfit of tones and heterogeneous percussions of tribal structures that make the charm of Steve Roach. And The Road Eternal goes out as it had start, leaving its musical imprints on 5 other following tracks.
Depart at Sunrise spreads out its rangy and gloomy musical waves as slow flights of an eagle on hunting. It’s an ambient intro assorted of soft ethereal layers and sweet laments coming from a hypersensitive guitar which are finally pulled by a delicate rhythmic which skips finely on the tips of its chords. A cadence with charmingly harmonious jolts, a bit weaved as those on the title-track, flooded by very nice synth layers and supported by stunning glaucous ball bearings which are dazzling strangeness from a percussion universe unique to Steve Roach’s overflowing imagination. And, lasciviously, synths layers and guitars laments float over this rhythmic warmly mesmerizing and strangely morphic for a track which offers quite a lively beat. The Next Place is a long track which swarms of a life liven up by a mixture of pulsations and heterogeneous percussions. A world of percussions which pound and run at nice flow on light guitar riffs and slinky as well as moving synth layers. It’s a track which is highly similar to Travel by Moonlight which on the other hand is more sinuous, ambiguous and hypnotic. Delicate, First Twilight floats above our thoughts as an angel above our dreams. The fusion of synths and guitars layers shape a universe of extreme solitude on this ambient track, quite as on Night Strands which on the other hand is more syncretic and soaks in an eclectic sound fauna on a guitar substructure equal to Michael Rother’s sounds.
I just loved The Road Eternal, as much the title track as the 5 other jewels of a similar musical texture but so different in the final. The Road Eternal is a musical experience which rides long silent and nightly surges of synths and guitars as ambient as spectral on rhythms absent of sequences. Unusual and uncommon rhythms, witnesses of a sound research that establishes Roach and his collaborators in a league of one’s own in this constantly evolving musical world. This 2nd collaboration Roach/Wollo is a brilliant stroke of genius and a meticulous work which brings to a simply brilliant result. It’s poetry without words, a bedside book makes of sounds and an inescapable companion for empty nights when we try to understand what we are doing on this road which, by moments, seems to us so eternal. -Sylvain Lupari