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Structures From Silence (2001 Remastered Ed.)
& Erik Wollo : The Road Eternal
With the combined experience of these two veteran electronic composers, this collaboration flows with an agility of emotion and intellect in fluid interplay; minimalist-inspired melodic tapestries, pulsing trance passages, deep drone drifts, and surreal soundscapes morph into cloud-like forms: a constant state of sonic evolution.
The results stand apart from the extended immersive long-form tracks of Steve’s recent releases. While Stream of Thought is presented as a continuous flow of 19 interconnected pieces, the metaphor of sitting on a stream’s edge under full engagement with the present moment is the appropriate context to experience the fluid ebb and mercurial flow of this living, streaming soundworld.
Roach and Wøllo’s similar age, musical inspirations and sonic inclinations - along with a mutual respect for each other’s 25+ years of work - inform Stream of Thought. Starting on two continents with two very different atmospheric conditions (the vast desert of Steve’s Arizona and the icy solitude of Erik’s homebase in Norway) this release began to take form in early 2007, as the composers traded musical ideas back and forth across long distances. The most formative aspect of the collaboration occurred in the summer of 2008 with Erik’s visit to Steve’s Timeroom studio in Arizona. Their week yielded the final recording, arrangement and editing. The approach to the album’s structure was more like that of film editing, where a sense of time and pacing was consciously developed to activate a powerful visual/auditory reaction, a visceral experience.
Stream of Thought explores the nuance of shifts within our perception. Segments of illumination juxtaposed with amorphous interludes and moving, flowing rhythm culminate in an unforgettable, shifting, dynamic experience. Relax and float downstream. Tranquil drifts, passionate rapids, midnight star gazing and blazing sunsets await. This is a vivid soundtrack for the senses designed to take the listener to the outer reaches of the imagination.
Steve Roach has never been one to turn away from collaborations, making this new partnership, with Norwegian musician Erik Wollo, both a familiar and a slightly different experiment.
At this point in his now decades-long career Roach has not only established a general sonic approach but a wide range of variations within the general rubric of "ambient" music as described, and much of Stream of Thought similarly finds itself balanced between these two extremes -- sweeping, gently cyclical swells of lush, gleaming electronic textures interweave with nervous understated rhythms, or chilled out musical flows that almost force the listener into contemplation.
Split into 19 short, untitled tracks, Stream of Thought isn't mixed as a single track and might reward random resequencing on a listener's part, but as it stands it is perfectly enjoyable. Sequences such as what sounds like a cross between water dripping and the most understated glitch click track ever on the eighth song add quiet variety, though ultimately this is an album for dedicated fans of either artist rather than newcomers. -Ned Raggett
Fans of somber and wrapping atmosphere, unravel your ears because here is an opus which will transport you beyond the limits of simple ambiance music. Stream of Thought is an album to ionospheres tinted with circular movements and encircled by synthesized loops which spin persistence. An opus gathering 2 great musicians who like investigating the curves of musical caverns and the vestiges of their heritages, spreading out a music that allies tribal rhythms to chloroformed movements and hypnotic sequences, flavored by a wide range of synths and guitars. A music that comes out of ancestral memories, for the purest pleasure of ears fond of luxuriant atmospheres.
A long title divided into 19 parts, Stream of Tought starts as an evening news TV show. Clear and fervent tinklings on a continuous sequential movement, are trailed around by a guitar to honeyed chords and enclosed by a synth to intrusive shadows. A moderate Empetus, but so crystallized, which borrows the circles of very Roachian's heavy reverberations, in the part 2. A 2nd monstrous part, where the resonant hoops multiply in nervous loops on a soft synth filled of spectral waves. Oscillating waves which wave above a synthesized storm, stuffed with sound refractions to echoes duped by aggressive structures. These first 2 parts pave the way to a hybrid album where the rhythm is next to the atonal passivity in a dark and muffled atmosphere, loosening clannish atmospheres which bloom on sequences to shelled chords or the paces of tribal dances.
The 10th part distances itself with a more electronic approach. Knockings on drum skins draw a hypnotic structure surrounded with a charming synthesized veil. It is soft, relaxing and attracting with it's his synthesized streaks which modulate slowly a strange melody of an unknown descent. The electronic approach becomes more eclectic on the following parts forming a curious sea disturbed by waves which collide in a random way. A magnificent Roachian passage appears lasting around 7 minutes (Part XIII) with a movement boiling of slowly neurotic sequences, gird by a synth to spectral lamentations. A beautiful moment which reminds the first Roach's works
(The 16th part also), especially with the presence of synthesized streaks which overhang these syncretic jolts, sustained by a Wollo's ghostly howling guitar. Brief atmospheric parts follow which uncork in waddled tempos and ambient passages, until the last part which ends up with a nervous rhythmic approach, on a magnificent guitar with drawling impetous and a sequential structure which laps in a tenderly frivolous atmosphere.
With Stream of Thought duet Roach/Wollo redefined the ambient music. The so said "abstract" music with an epic title which straightens in an atmosphere of a delicious bipolarity where the hazy rhythms, clear and incisive are molding admirably to ambient passages, tinted with synthesized breaths and guitars which glance through a musical journey in outcomes so surprising as unexpected. - Sylvain Lupari
A continuous stream of sonic consciousness in 19 parts
El álbum “Stream of Thought” es una de esas joyas musicales que solamente dos grandes compositores consagrados como Steve Roach y Erik Wollo podían crear. Basándose en un espíritu puramente luminoso para abrir nuevos estados de conciencia, este disco ha sido creado a través de un minimalismo sonoro decorado con melodías y notas de colores que te irradian un profundo placer durante su audición. Desde luego, en este disco los lectores comprobarán cómo la combinación de la experiencia ofrecida por Steve Roach dentro de la música electrónica, junto a la maestría de Erik Wollo al tocar instrumentos como la guitarra acústica, la mandolina, el bajo eléctrico o la guitarra eléctrica, ha dado vida a una obra musical inspirada en la armonía universal y el crecimiento personal como seres humanos. “Stream of Thought” suena a espacios abiertos, a dimensiones nuevas, a oxígeno puro y limpio, a sorprendentes tonos de color que hacen renacer la sensibilidad de nuestros sentidos. Un disco que te invita a viajar hacia tu interior, a las raíces de tu subconsciente, para que todo lo externo cobre un sentido verdadero y trascendente.
La calma, el relax, la expansión sensorial, el disfrute sensitivo,… son efectos que los lectores podrán experimentar mientras escuchan este álbum, porque “Stream of Thought”, tiene notas musicales que emocionan, que te aligeran el espíritu para llevarte hacia nuevas percepciones. La armonía de su mensaje se siente en nuestro interior, acariciando nuestra piel con aires puros alejados de ese falso hedonismo que nos sobrecarga para limitarnos. “Stream of Thought” es vibrante, pero no estresante. “Stream of Thought” es espiritual, pero no psicodélico e irreal. “Stream of Thought” es la energía que en este siglo XXI debería expandirse por el planeta para que en nuestro horizonte futuro pudieran disolverse esas oscuras nubes que no presagian nada bueno. “Stream of Thought”, cuando la música se transforma en algo más que en la simple audición de un disco. ¡¡¡Disfrútenlo!!! - Lux Atman
The combined efforts of ambient masters, Steve Roach and Erik Wollo, have created an extraordinary cerebral flow of ambient music that is at once adrenaline pumping, yet mesmerizing.
This album is 19 separate musical parts over 70 minutes and transitioned by silence, one mood pushing into another. Each part delivers a soundtrack-like urgency that underscores a tension. Whether softly moving or fiercely running, these pieces effectively come together to produce the engaging whole.
The album is called Stream of Thought, an interactive escapist work that provides you the music to your relaxed state. It’s not for you to slip on and run in the background as the music is too commanding. It will draw you in and have you within the imaginative strands of your mind immediately by the first notes of the first song. It is best experienced by headphones and with your eyes closed to achieve a unique full effect that this collaboration is intending. And no experience should be the same. Like aural opium, Stream of Thought is potent and will deliver many satisfying dramas. Rating: 4/5
Mit dem Amerikaner Steve Roach, der für seine ambientmäßige Spacemusik bekannt ist und dem Norweger Erik Wollø, dessen Elektronikmusik sehr fassettenreich ist, haben sich zwei alt gediente Elektronikmusiker zu einer neuen Kollaboration zusammengefunden. Beide machen bereits seit mehr als 25 Jahren Elektronikmusik und schätzen gegenseitig ihre Arbeiten sehr. Das ist auch der Grund, warum dieses gemeinsame Wirken zustande kam. Anfang 2007 haben die beiden mit ihrer Zusammenarbeit begonnen, das Album dann aber erst in 2008 zu Ende gebracht. Jetzt, Anfang 2009 erscheint ihr Werk unter dem Namen „Stream Of Thought“, n dem sie sich dem Thema der Gedankenströme widmen.
Der Untertitel „A Continuous Stream Of Sonic Consciousness In 19 Parts“ verrät schon, das die fast 70minütige CD in 19 Parts unterteilt ist. Die einzelnen Klangbilder bringen es dabei auf Spielzeiten zwischen 0:37 und 14:17 Minuten Länge. Zwar finden sich am Ende der Stücke Fadeouts, diese sind aber so geschickt mit den Fadeins der neuen Stücke abgestimmt, so dass die Tracks der CD nicht einzeln gesehen werden sollten, sondern die CD als Ganzes funktioniert und eine Einheit darstellt.
Während Steve Roach vor allem digitale und analoge Synthesizer benutzt, bringt sich Erik unter anderem auch mit elektrischer und akustischer Gitarre sowie Mandoline und Bass ein. Sein Saitenspiel dient aber der Atmosphärenbildung und bringt - im Gegensatz zu anderen Gitarristen, die sich ebenfalls in der Elektronik betätigen - keine Rockelemente mit in die Tracks hinein.
Wie schon oben erwähnt, erzeugen die beiden weitläufige Klangbilder, die Räume zu neuen, anderen Dimensionen öffnen. Melodieführungen findet man hier eher nicht, allerdings haben wir es auch nicht mit einer experimentellen Spielart der Elektronik zu tun, dafür ist die Musik dann doch zu homogen. Durch die sphärischen Flächen wähnt man sich mal in den Weiten amerikanischer Wüsten- oder Steppenlandschaften, mal in den eisigen Gefilden des hohen Nordens, der Heimat von Erik Wøllo, um im nächsten Moment den Eindruck zu bekommen, in einer Raumstation durch den Orbit unseres Planeten zu Reisen.
Neben recht ruhigen Passagen, in denen sich lediglich langsam die Flächen und Akkorde durch den Raum zu bewegen scheinen, finden sich dann auch rhythmische Parts wie z. B. in den Tracks 6, 7 oder 10. Gerade im zehnten Stück möchte man fast meinen, dass der Brite Ian Boddy die Rhythmussequenzen beigesteuert hat, da sie seinem Stil doch nahe kommen. Diese rhythmischen Sequenzen sorgen für Abwechslung innerhalb der sonst recht spacigen Synthie-Drones.
Wer auf elektronische Spacemusik der Marke Steve Roach steht, der kann hier bedenkenlos zugreifen. „Stream Of Thought“ bietet Ambientmusik, bei der man geistig abschalten - quasi die Gedanken frei strömen lassen kann - und in andere Sphären abgleiten kann. Die Musik ist aber nicht geeignet, um sie mal eben nebenbei zu hören, vielmehr sollte man sich ihr vollständig hingeben, so wirkt sie am besten. - Stephan Schelle
This release from 2008 features 70 minutes of stimulating ambience.
Roach plays analog and digital synthesizers and sequencers, loops and atmospheres, while Wollo plays electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, bass, Roland guitar, synthesizers, VST instruments, sequencers, loops and atmospheres.
Crisp electronics and airy tonalities blend with stringed instruments to generate lavish yet serene melodies.
Initially, layers of soothing but lively guitars establish a bewitching presence with undulating textures providing an atmospheric foundation. That basis expands with subsequent pieces, exploring realms of haunting distinction with floating drones and cosmic ambience. This ambience refuses to remain sedate, however, persisting in variations of thrilling diversity, maintaining a constant level of engagement throughout.
Ephemeral electronics express a trance state that is tempered and elevated by the presence of dreamy guitar patterns. These strings vibrate with a spectral demeanor, bestowing the celestial music with a sense of human spirituality.
While some soft rhythms (all of them synthetic) are utilized, the music is generally a construction of interweaving electronics designed to function like boundless fluid, oozing and flowing without restraint. In several instances, the beats are processed into blurred sequences that are immediately alluring in their ethereal mien.
One sequence casts off ambient sensibilities and flourishes with a more energized sound with sprightly tempos, lively electronics, and guitars that adopt a decidedly astral motif with their searing resonance.
Combining Roach's arid desert flair and Wollo's arctic stylings, this tuneage is of high appeal and unique disposition, a fusion of hot and cold that exemplifies a psychic plane beyond physical sensations. While the music is presented as a continuous stream, the various compositions (there are 19 of them) possess diverse characteristics whose variety is guaranteed to entertain.
"Stream of Thought" is the long-awaited outcome of these two skilled musicians, of which the first drafts were already put down in 2007. Spanning exactly 70 minutes, this "continuous stream of sonic conciousness in 19 parts" is a complex, emotionally charged and very diverse sound painting.
Sound wise, the music is less traditional and more experimental, moving away from Roach’s deeper, transcendental style, although some ambient moments are still present. Instead, it merges carefully moulded sonic vistas, creating a highly cinematic journey in which rhythmic, high-tech and ethereal ambient styles blend. Erik’s nice guitar playing shows up now and then, adding some extra icing on the cake.
Taking off atmospheric, things get really groovy on the great second part, while most other parts are charged by freeform textures, high-tech pulse sequencing and percussive elements. Part four and five venture nicely in darkening, surreal soundworlds, while a low beat and fractal sequencing take centre stage on part eight. Toward the end, the high-tech sonic outcome on part 15 and 16 sounds rather chaotic, inconsistent and experimental to my ears, before the albums renders down in a smooth style.
All in all, "Stream of Thought" is an expertly produced, mixed and mastered, constantly evolving cycle of dynamic sonic wizardy, more experimental in nature. So fasten your seatbelts and make up for a surreal listening experience (which is also a treat for testing the sound your hi-fi system by the way). -Bert Strolenberg
In reality, of course, it was exactly their synergistic competencies which had always attracted them to each other in the first place. And underneath these outward polarities, symbolised almost cartoonishly by Roach living in the midst of the Arizona desert and Wøllo on the Norwegian countryside with its freezing winters, the artists importantly had a lot in common, too: A shared appreciation for perfect solitude in the moment of creation, a sculptural approach to composition, the indivisibility of art and life as well as a remarkable longevity of vision. And so, rather than feeling like strangers in each other's presence, they instantly connected, entering into a four-year period of exchanging files, sequences and concepts, which has clearly bled into their first release. Even without prior knowledge of any kind of overarching concept, Stream of Thought sounds like the work of two artists bouncing ideas off each other, playfully exploring new directions and pushing each other into realms they would probably never otherwise have considered feasible. A staggering nineteen tracks are spread out over seventy minutes here and one can't help but feel that plenty more were either discarded or considered unsuitable for the project, that this already prolific surge of creativity merely represents the tip of the iceberg. Just as in a good conversation, one suggestion appears to have lead to at least two more so that, even after hours of intense debate, the amount of potential topics will actually have increased.
This sense of anything-goes – or almost-anything-goes – has carried over into the eclectic stylistic scope of the album. While most of their individual releases seemed intent on zooming in on a particular muscle and then massaging it for an extensive period of time until it relaxed, Stream of Thought contrarily tickles every nerve, synapse and cell in the body, sending stimulating auditive messengers from one end of the musical spectrum to the other in the blink of an eye. Within the first half hour, Roach and Wøllo have already explored rhythmically driven tribal trance, floating dronescapes, hallucinatory collages between bliss and delusion, pounding echoes of decaying loops, slow-grooving acid and a gently undulating duet between guitar delays and streaks of glistening harmonics – and there's plenty more to follow. On top of the nervously twitching tension between tracks, every single element within them is also kept in constant motion: Bass lines and beats are sent through filters, themes and patterns gently tweaked and transformed, atmospheres and pads shifted and shaken into continually new constellations so that, for example, a piece like „Stream of Thought Part 13“ will start out as a hypnotic slice of sequencer-electronica and end up a floating piece of percussive ambient.
Despite the obvious pleasure gained from this undiluted spirit of joyful creation, it also presented Roach and Wøllo with the structural issue of shaping an uncontrolled outburst and avoiding the impression of randomness. Intriguingly, the answer to the dilemma lay in giving in to it: Rather than trying to find a Freud'ean explanation or Leitmotif to their stream of thought, the artists instead tried to emphasise its very inconsistency, willfulness, mutability, seeming illogicality and fleetingness in their collaboration. At times, listening to the album really feels like taking a roller coaster ride through someone else's mind, the carriage shooting through chains of intense scenes at the speed of light, almost skidding off the tracks at times. There are no seamless transitions here, with one section segueing into the next as suddenly and abruptly as changing channels on a TV set. Meanwhile, to a generation which grew up on remote controls, multitasking and the curse of partial attention, this newsflash-like rate of transformation will probably barely register as unusual. And after the initial shock has subsided, one quickly experiences the transitoriness of the record as a flow, the fractures as nothing but tiny scars on an otherwise perfectly smooth tissue.
It is only after repeated listens that one notices just how meticulously this impression was consciously created by the artists in their studios, textures re-appearing at various stages of the album like markers, themes being re-cycled and re-worked, moving from the back- to the foreground, mutating from melodic fragments into a rhythmical spine. Just like Roach once famously culled structures from silence, he and Wøllo are now searching for order in chaos. A stream of thought, after all, is anything but a unidirectional entity. Rather, it can jump both back and forth in time, wilfully skip particular passages while minutely honing in on others, mulling them over with an almost obsessive intensity and superimposing various layers of memories to arrive at new, more complex constructions. All of this is represented directly in the music, as Stream of Thought speeds time up in one instant and then considerably slows it down in the next, refining one passage with utmost attention while discarding another almost listlessly. It is only at the very end and in an epic grand finale-composition, that the album reaches its point of destination, all confluents flowing into the steady flow of a big river, the tension resolved, the music fading peacefully into silence and calm.
Occasionally, one would wish for some of the shorter pieces to be worked out just a little bit more. But that's the downside and very nature of human imagination, to which this album pays an intriguing homage: Everything is in flux and a moment, once lost, can never be recovered. -Tobias Fischer