Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces (hard-boxed edition!)
side project: As Lonely As Dave Bowman: POD ~ SALE $5
immersion : three (ltd edition)
This conclusion resolves with disk two: "Melted Mantra," a 73 minute groove-soundworld mantra that give full resonation to the words hypnotic and mesmerizing.
In this last installment of the Fever Dreams trilogy, Steve Roach smoothly blends tribal intentions with electro-funk grooves to create a journeying soundtrack for the 21st-century wired shaman.
The ride opens with the pulse and flow of "Electro-Erotic," familiar Fever Dreams territory, with quavering guitar sighs, slow-beat drums and subtle hints of the more bare-bones, pure electronic augmentation to come. It ferries us into “Meta-Sense,” one of the best individual pieces to come out of the Timeroom in a while. It is an 18-minute trip—with all that word entails— through a bouncing analog rhythm spiced with long, sustained synth pads and tidbits of electronic percussion. A psychotropic, hallucinogenic, hypnotic journey at speed to the lower world and back. “Meta-Sense” gives way to “Polyopsia,” which echoes the percussive urgency of “Energy Well” from FDII and directs the disk to a shadowy place. That feel carries through the slow drift of “Pulse Current” and lightens up across the breadth of its faster-paced follow-up, “Pulse Impulse.” After the surging urgency of "Borderlands," "Moonshroud" rolls in, picking up the bass feel from the early tracks of FDI, a callback that rises like primitive memory. (Admittedly, it’s probably easier to note if you listen to all the FD disks in succession, as I recently did.) That same bass line can be sensed, albeit manipulated, twisted, and drenched in atmospheric electronic murk, in the closing track, "Phantom Fever Rising." Halfway through, this piece strikes for the surface, beginning to shimmer and drawing quiet breath and bringing the first disk to a meditative end.
The second disk--the end of the journey, if you will--is an hour-plus glide through shamanic soundscapes courtesy of Byron Metcalf's drumming and burbling aural imagery from Roach. I'm tempted to say it's Metcalf's show as the drums take the forefront and hold their place, but under the beats Roach is again blending touches and feels not just from the Fever Dream disks before, but from his entire arsenal of sounds, breeding an odd sense of familiarity while at the same time taking the listener to entirely new realms. The point, really, is to simply surrender to "Melted Mantra" and let it guide you where it will. Enjoy the ride.
I will confess to have something of a predilection for the immersion series. immersion : one looped for nine straight hours during my daughter's birth and was the perfect accompaniment to the event, bringing palpable quiet and ease in the wake of labor pains and providing a soft, breathy aural cushion for the little girl's arrival. And so I expected quite a bit from its followup. No need to worry. immersion : two takes the deep-drift mantle laid down by its predecessor and moves the form and the series forward. The sole long-form piece, the aptly titled "artifact ghost," moves through its 73 minutes like a half-glimpsed parade of wandering spirits or the etherea of fading dreams that float around us in halfwaking moments. The music affects the space around the listener sonically and temporally; time slows almost to the point of stopping and moments are lost, given over to the flow and the warmth of Roach's textures. The air shifts and calms in its wake, and perception changes. An awareness of spirit rises as the listener is lulled ever downward into the self in a sort of coaxed meditation. Given the continuous play called for on the CD's inside cover, immersion : two stands a fair chance of inducing an out-ofbody experience as the listener gives in to the urge to follow Roach's sonic ghosts as they glide and dance.
While synthesist Roach plays analog and digital instruments, Parker Fly guitar, percussion and groove creation, he is joined on two tracks by Byron Metcalf who plays frame drum and udu.
Soothing tonalities provide a solid backdrop of ethereal substance for auxiliary electronics. Gentle waves ripple through these ambient soundscapes, mimicking atmospheric traits with pleasant accuracy.
Meanwhile, those auxiliary electronics gather stamina and verve, rising to season the placid mix with sultry vitality. Artificial vibrations are harnessed and delivered into rhythmic structure, ponging off each other with gradually accumulate cohesion. Melodies are generated that waft with luxurious mien as they convey a mounting essence that is primed to captivate and stir the listener's soul.
Guitar sustains establish haunting embellishment that is so astral as to often be indistinguishable from the vaporous electronics. The notes are elongated until they become thin strands of vibrant resonance that shimmer like a borealis hanging amid the delicate electronic fog.
The percussion is soft, muted and relegated to the background so as to approximate distance. While contributing rhythms of a sedate nature, the remote placement of these tempos enhances the music's overall expansive character, as if the instruments are positioned at far-flung corners of the somnambulant landscape, collaborating in separation to achieve a harmonic flow that defies proximity. The differences between near and far are exposed as illusions, revealing the coexistence of everything.
Not all the percussion resounds from far away, though. Some rhythms are decidedly proximate, although never overwhelmingly prominent. These tempos evoke a snappier flair that provides amiable locomotion to the music. They often curl around cosmic electronic expressions, creating a lush union that enhances all parts of the fusion. Frequently, non-impact sounds are rallied into pulsating cycles that establish rhythms of eerie disposition.
While generally pacific, this music is hardly restricted to meditative influences. A distinct pep is present, slowly emerging to flavor the ambiance with livelier moods.
Long form accretion is utilized to afford each composition the opportunity to comfortably evolve and pursue delightful variations. This is especially applicable on the second disk, which features one vast composition ("Melted Mantra") that winds its way through diverse deviations with divine consequences.
This second disk features passages of darker demeanor, instilling a cognitive imperative to the music's otherwise contemplative frame of mind. Here, the percussion possesses more body, immersing the listener in a sea of gently stimulating rhythms. Tribal influences are merged with nondenominational spirituality, resulting in a tasty excursion to the depths of modern consciousness.