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Disc 1 ~ Circadian Rhythms 73:44 | MP3 excerpt Disc 2 ~ Shroud of Night 73:33 | MP3 excerpt
Sigh of Ages
& Brian Parnham: The Desert Inbetween
Live at SoundQuest Fest
Disc two, "Shroud of Night" was created from a blend of Steve's unique textural electric guitar and harmonic synth alchemy. The strands of emotion contained within this long-form atmosphere take on a feeling of clouds illuminated by full moonlight wafting into the deep hours of the night. This is a place of pure immersion and sonic warmth. Tested on infinite-repeat mode for over a year throughout all times of the day, into the night and beyond. Immerse thyself, once again.
Or you could segue right into the second disc, the long-form track, “Shroud of Night.” Again, the sounds come like memories from the depths of the Roach library, a constantly moving weave of shimmer and shadow coursing through an endless night. The beatless flow makes a nice counter to its companion disc. Taken on its own, it carries the feel of watching clouds moving across the moon, the mood always on the edge of darkness but retaining a subtle coronal glow. Roach’s guitar textures melt into his pads in a smooth partnership of sound that takes the listener in and down for the duration. Roach notes on his site that this disc was played on infinite loop for a year as he refined it; while I don’t suggest you dedicate that much time to it all at once, I have definitely enjoyed sleeping with this disc playing just at the slightest level of hearing and letting it work its way into my subconscious. Deep but soft, “Shroud of Night” is a classic Roach drift–and Immersion 5: Circadian Rhythms is another superb entry both the series and to the overall Roach canon.
A circadian rhythm is a built-in cycle, guided by several elements of science. Light, physiological changes, behavioral impacts, and various other cycles that are unavoidable all merge to create a biochemical response that we can be governed by. When an ambient master like Steve Roach works to create a sonic exploration of that, well, the effects can be quite interesting. Mix it with your imagination and a story (or stories) develop to further enhance the audio experience.
Disc one consists of a single track (in three phases). ”Circadian Rhythms” is an ambient exploration of a thousand life cycles, all going on at the same time. It’s almost overwhelming. And it’s quite brilliant. This alien assault on your senses is effective in its ability to grab you at the tunnel-like opening of your awareness, drawing you into the stereo mix, which is immaculately produced with very expressive sounds spilling out at both speakers, quite distinguishable and very immersive. The 70+ minute track, completely on disc one of the 2CD set, moves into strange territories with percussive movement, a fast heartbeat, a rhythm of life exploded at the manic level. Whether slowed to a thought-purifying clarity (as phase three provides) or escalated to nightmarish levels,
“Shroud Of Night” encompasses disc two for over 73 minutes. It is a non-breaking float into your ethereal darkness. Once the patterns evoked by the three phases of “Circadian Rhythms” have delivered their narcotized effect, “Shroud of Night” fills your ambient-induced mind with a detached Matrix-like solution (where you lie quite still, open to all of the experiences that are being imagined). It’s peaceful when it shouldn’t be. And yet you cannot help to give in to the effect of being outside yourself. Eerie in every way, yet healing in a mood-changing way.
Circadian Rhythms is the best in the Immersion series (thus far) in a commanding way. It approaches your life-cycle with adrenaline pumping ambience and takes you on a journey into yourself. To me, this is the mark of great ambient works. They deliver a soundtrack for a million scenarios, all played out in whatever images and locations your twisted psyche can develop. Good ambient music can relax you. But great ambient works like the kind Steve Roach feverishly mass-produces with such excruciating detail can live within you forever. With Circadian Rhythms, you are given an experience you will not get anywhere else. -Matt Rowe
Disc 1 features tenuous harmonics that evoke subliminal effects through gradually pulsating electronic tonalities of a vaporous nature.
Sparse textures establish themselves and endure throughout, expanding to swamp the field with their ethereal definition, then lingering seemingly forever, changing so subtly as to defy discernment yet transforming the flow in a dedicated fashion that doesn't go unnoticed by the listener's subconsciousness.
Delicate electronics waft on airy currents that keep everything afloat and in fluid motion. Density here is negative as the tonal threads unfurl their ephemeral substance, sighing in an eternal elongation that is seasoned by auxiliary harmonics (again so tenuous as to be virtually undetectable).
But as the tuneage progresses, subtle sonic events emerge from the flow. Remote rhythms (which spawn from electronic pulsations rather than any actual percussives), glittering glurps (that churn in the distance like mysterious manifestations), while some of the harmonic vapors gain ascendance, oozing through the mix with glutinous influence. An astral dreamstate is produced, one tempered by fragile progressions and inventive embellishments.
On disc 2 Roach flavors the expansive territory with textural guitar, achieving an even more pronounced atmospheric quality with tenuous layers of shimmering sustains that barely possess definition. The listener is immersed in an environment of gentle tones that smoothly caress the mind, isolating the subject from reality as a zone of ambrosial suspension is created. This amiable region endures a looong time, affording ample opportunity for undisturbed introspection.
These compositions epitomize what earned Roach his reputation as an ambient maestro. The minimalism is profound yet the music is distinguished by a charismatic evolution motivating the serene fluency. -Matt Howarth
Circadian Rhythms is a musical reflection on the fascinating kingdom of animal and vegetal. The circadian rhythm is a biorhythm of 24 hours. More visible to plants it’s also very present in unicellular bodies, like mould and bacteria. And it’s a little bit this tiny world filled with multi-form creatures that Steve Roach puts in music. Circadian Rhythms-Phase One begins with strange tones of an effervescent world of which tiny latent movements are finely explained with amplified sonority. Those who are familiar with the musical universe of Roach will not be disoriented because tones very finely elaborated here have already seen the sound of days on Possible Planet. Thus long and threadlike serpentine movements to metallic sliding grow and circulate in a world of shadows where guitar notes jib weakly among dark varied oscillations. It’s a journey in the inside where swarms thousand eclectic tones and a world to multiple tones of quixotic insects which seethe with a surprising musical life. From this babel of spongy and microorganisms sonorities emerge soft astral waves which gradually win in opulence and cover this Lilliputian fauna of soft floating molecules which derive in the ending of a world in stigmatization. Layers of synth over those of guitars on a slowly stormy tempo, Circadian Rhythms-Phase Two is quite in contrast with the tranquillity of the slow Immersion that we heard on the first 4 volumes. Steve Roach multiplies there guitars and synths layers which are entangling and dying of elongated caustic riffs over a more and more precise rhythm. This is a clan rhythm unique Roach where percussions have this strange impression to be forged straight from the bells of rattlesnakes and heterogeneous elements which drag under the rocks of Arizona or Australian desert plains. I have the strange image of vultures on diet flying over the rests of a civilization to be spared when I listen to this 2nd part that bathes in the soft atmospheres of recent works of Roach such as the very beautiful Landmass and especially Destination Beyond. Little by little, Circadian Rhythms-Phase Two's fervently still rhythm calms down with beautiful soothing synth layers which cross a finale which espouses the hesitating rhythms and which march past stealthily of Circadian Rhythms-Phase Three. This last portion of Circadian Rhythms offers a fine balanced rhythm which leans on a soft hypnotic sequential balance and a suave line of bass which fidgets among hiccupping chords, the whole this is coated by beautiful layers of synth which undulate on a delicate oniric rhythm. We are in the lands of Dreamtime Return and Western Spaces but with a zest of musical freshness that leans Roach evolution.
There is not much to write about Shroud of Night. It is a long and atonal night-lament which respects the precepts of the Immersion series but with a more accentuated abyssal depth where a mix of synth and guitar layers float in an immersive serenity, , a little as if we were in communication with the aquatic world from which whales feed our subconscious of slender enveloping laments. And it’s doubtless Shroud of Night's great beauty. All along we have this vague impression of being submerged by a quixotic suspended ocean where cetaceans float in diapason with our immense need of immersive tranquility, a little as in First Light from Immersion: Three. True to him, Steve Roach filled every diameter available on the CD so that our subconscious is invades of this suave tranquility begun with Immersion: One in 2006.
With Immersion Five - Circadian Rhythms we have the best of both Steve Roach's worlds in a single album, which is not to be disdained.
We have the tribal and progressive rhythms to atmospheres as seducing as heterogeneous on Circadian Rhythms and the best of the ambient and dreamlike music on Shroud of Night. Immersion Five - Circadian Rhythms is at the height of its kind of album that can help to tame two Steve Roach's main genres. -Sylvain Lupari