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PRO00305

Steve Roach: The Delicate Forever (CD)

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Cover images by Steve Matson – stevematsonart.com

Steve Roach’s new studio release, The Delicate Forever, presents a reverie of gentle and etheric ambient sound meditations that awaken complex and resonant states of emotional and psychological perspectives. The nuanced, minimal electronics interplay with a masterful use of musical space, breath, silence, and rich textural colors in a subtle dynamic flow. Nurturing the senses in inexplicable ways, these sound paintings become an evocative environment for activating a state of rarefied reflections.

As a pioneer of ambient-electronic-contemplative music, Steve Roach has dedicated nearly four decades to creating music that connects into a deep well of inspiration and innovation. His expansive, time-suspending soundworlds earned his position in the global pantheon of major new music artists. His live concerts are events that draw avid participants from around the world. His studio work blends seamlessly into the live setting, just as the in-the-moment live energy informs the core of his work in the studio.

Roach says the process of revisiting his classic Structures From Silence – for the recent 3-CD thirtieth anniversary reissue – helped inspire the pieces that evolved into The Delicate Forever.

Roach reflects, “After placing such detailed focus on the Structures From Silence remaster, along with the new pieces on the second and third disc, I was taken through the eye of the needle in many ways. This new sense in my fingertips awoke when using the analog instruments, giving way to a new level of subtle, delicate sonic shifts of harmonic texture and form. At the same time, a kind of hearing through an ‘inner’ ear seemed to occur. A reaching towards new tonalities and colors became my obsession; making this conscious is where I am living now, day and night. The ‘forever’ is directly connected to the underlying current of life – mortality. The Delicate Forever maps out a new phase in my current work, reaching further towards a deeper ineffable experience.”

Release date: July 22, 2014

Weight .3 lbs
Artist

Steve Roach

Label

Projekt

Release Year

2014

Format

CD in 4-panel DigiPak

Video

Reviews

  1. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Exposé

    Where are we? Some subterranean grotto? An alien garden? In the hands of ambient artist Steve Roach it’s all up to the listener’s imagination. Roach – with umpteen releases under his belt – has had a few years to explore, stretch, and hone his craft. Lately he’s been trending toward greater use of analog gear, which makes sense given that he started out as a pioneering electro-acoustic artist way back when. Not that you can tell the difference, anyways. In the hands of someone this well versed in waveforms, filters, and a mixing console he could probably put a microphone up to my cat and the results would be just as good. As for the specifics of this release, it’s typically mammoth comprising five pieces ranging from over nine minutes on the low end up to the title piece at almost 25 minutes. Each segues into the next, so it really feels like one massive, 75-minute journey.

    And there’s enough variation and development that the hand of the creator is almost always present. “The Well Spring” evokes old-school electronica via sequenced synth melodies, whereas pieces like the title track or “Perfect Sky” take a more organic approach with irregular accents that burble or skitter across them. Ingeniously, the first and final tracks are mirrors so the entire thing can be put on continuous, seamless replay. Whether it’s enjoyed for itself, or as an aid to meditation, relaxation or study, Roach has delivered yet another in a long series of sublime and expertly crafted sonic excursions. -Paul Hightower

  2. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Make Your Own Taste

    It seems kind of odd to be reviewing a relatively recent Steve Roach release, because knowing him he’ll probably have another three out by the time I finish writing this review. All kidding aside, this gentleman is prolific, but he’s the grandpappy of ambient music, after all, so he gets to do what he wants.

    Fortunately, doing what he wants is working for him, because as I faithfully purchase each release, the quality somehow stays at his traditionally high level. I’m highlighting this particular 2014 release because of all of Roach’s albums of the last couple of years, this is the one that really floats my boat. (I should point out that another album, The Long Night, is just as new.)

    It’s a question of personal taste, of course. Arizona-based Roach has worked in a variety of ambient subgenres for some time (most of which he probably invented) and naturally excels at each; some of them I prefer more than others. For instance, his heavily sequenced, more energetic albums usually do very little for me, although for some reason Spiral Meditations very much does. At the other end of spectrum is the languid, minimal and peaceful sound of albums like New Life Dreaming (a personal favourite), Low Volume Music, most of the Immersion series, and Darkest Before Dawn. Now, those releases are where it’s at for me. You can read my post listing some of his finest albums here.

    The Delicate Forever is a five-track release that is mainly notable (to me) for the extremely, excruciatingly beautiful title track, in which we find Roach at his most spartan and tranquil. And I can assure you, while Roach’s leviathan status in the genre is, to be sure, partially attributable to him being there at the beginning of it all and producing a large body of work (and partly dumb luck, as all success is), when he is on, his work contains an ineffable, expansive quality that could only be the product of a mind of great spiritual fulfilment. This sound is as vast as the ether, and when he’s at his best, Roach does this as well as or better than anyone else.

    “The Delicate Forever” is based simply on an undulating wave of what could be either a pad or a processed guitar (his site is not specific), accompanied over the twenty-four-minute duration only by tinkling synth sounds that resemble water dripping into an underground pool. It’s similar to the wonderful track “Perfect Dream” from New Life Dreaming.

    That’s it, and that’s all it needs. It could go on for quite a while longer, and I’d be happy. (An astute commenter has pointed out that you can get a 74-minute version of this track with the CD version, titled The Delicate Beyond). Here is a true master at work; enlightenment is found in the spaces between the notes, in the little touches, in the very simplicity of the piece.

    Folks, this is ambient music in its purest form. If you don’t like this, you may not have a future as a listener of this kind of music.

    The other four tracks are in a style well known to Roach fans, the closest previous approximation being the fabulous Mystic Chords and Sacred Spaces. “Well Spring” is based on delicate, trancelike sequencing and drifting pads — classic Roach, while next two tracks, “Where the Mysteries Sleep” and “Perfect Sky” are very much in the Mystic Chords style, with cascading notes that might sound atonal if not softened by effects, and which sonically mirror the gentle chaos of the natural world.

    And finally, “Hear After”, presumably a rumination on mortality, presents a slightly disquieting but still beautiful drone with more delicate dissonance and mysterious sounds from the great beyond, sending our souls into the next … whatever comes next.

    I wouldn’t call this album a “return to form”, because in my opinion the quality of Roach’s work has been remarkably consistent, but as an avid ambient music listener, it may mean something that to me this is the finest of Roach’s recordings of the last few years. Missing it would be your loss. -Allister Thompson

  3. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Hypnagogue

    It is tempting to have this review simply read: Set to repeat. Press play. Because, really, there you go. With its roots in the original Structures from Silence and its pulse taken from the remastering sessions for that album’s 30th anniversary, The Delicate Forever is one of those Steve Roach works that’s designed to augment the space around you or open the space within you, depending on how you choose to listen. Each of the five pieces is marked by its own texture. In the title track, sounds like frozen droplets of ice ping, rattle and reverberate off the soft drones. The drones themselves, throughout the album, have a lightly rasping feel, moving in a familiar inhale/exhale wave. “The Well Spring” is characterized by an appropriately burbling sequencer line. It feels energetic (and charming) coming out of the pleasantly long ride of the opener. “Perfect Sky” drifts along on a sound like some ethereal pipe organ, its complex lines wrestling gently in mid-air. The tones here are sharper than anywhere else on the album, imparting something like an edge of mystery to the journey. “Where Mysteries Sleep” and the closing track, “HearAfter,” get an extra dose of reverb for more depth and dimension and a spacier, dreamier sound. “HearAfter,” in particular, heads straight into the kind of deeper zones Roach has explored on long-form compositions such as “Piece of Infinity” from Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces. A nice touch here is to bring those “icy” sounds from the start of the album back into play. This does two things: lets your heavily sound-sedated brain know we’re drawing to a close, and lays out a seamless transition point as you loop into the next lap of listening.

    So here is another episode of Music to Live In from an ambient master. If you fall into The Delicate Forever, and I believe you will, it’s also worth checking out The Delicate Beyond, a full-length (i.e., 74 minute) version of the title track. This whole stretch of music from Roach, inspired by the remastering of Structures…, has been superb. It has its feet in the past but exists quite fully in who the artist is now. This is the kind of music that first pulled into Roach’s orbit, and it makes me glad I’ve stayed here. Set to repeat. Press play. Simple as that.

  4. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Sounds Behind the Corner

    Quando la genesi di un’opera di Steve Roach si completa, con essa si completano pure concetti e pulsazioni intime lontane da tutto ciò che riteniamo canonico e non datelo per scontato vista la lunga carriera del musicista statunitense.

    Un rapporto lunghissimo con la musica, tante collaborazioni ma Roach non ama sedersi e contemplarsi alle spalle, vuole il futuro, qui ed ora ma anche domani se domani vede lui dietro le sue macchine, dentro le sue stasi, le sue contemplazioni tonali, armoniche ed a distanza di pochi mesi dalla ristampa del triplo, trentennale album Structures From The Silence, il maestro della meditazione sci-fi torna sulla propria scia evolutiva guardandosi alle spalle.

    Così per The Delicate Forever, Roach vuole cinque tracce come Natura volle cinque elementi per se e se trovate facile incontrare Terra, Fuoco, Aria, Acqua, diverso sarà l’incontro con il quinto elemento, con il suo chakra elevato e la sua sfera eterea di azione meditativa nel nostro sistema empatico, introflesso.

    Allora la musica si sofferma sull’altrove e cessa di essere scrittura convenzionale, muta in estasi e pulsa come una stella visibile solo tramite intuiti e macchine.

    Intuito e macchine, la vita di Steve Roach condita da pizzichi di assenza e voglia di vincere sul tempo, cinque tracce inedite in versione digitale, Cd o vinile scritte tra righe d’ossessione, cuori in grado di percepire oltre la stessa vita, spazi sconfinati dipinti su tele organiche e tessuti antropomorfici metafisici, irreali.

    Surreale tutto il lavoro, il respiro di Leviatano immenso impossibile da capire se non tramite la comprensione dell’essere che ascolta, la title-track è la porta dischiusa dietro la quale altre quattro tracce, lunghe tracce (The Delicate Forever supera i venti minuti) per vincere il tempo senza scomporsi, meditazioni che profumano di zen sonoro e di venti che soffiano sul Kailash, la montagna residenza di Shiva, troppo sacra per essere calpestata, immaginatene il picco, le nevi, il gocciolio delle acque tra i solchi dell’album.

    Strumentazioni analogiche per una suite in cinque movimenti, The Delicate Forever è la vita che cresce microscopica o immensa, la morte che dolcemente feconda l’esistere, l’Arte di Steve Roach senza limiti. -Nicola Tenani

  5. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Textura

    It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that Steve Roach might have been cowed by the prospect of fashioning a follow-up to the recent thirtieth anniversary reissue of Structures From Silence, which Projekt issued earlier this year in a three-disc package that supplemented the earlier work with recently created material. But, in fact, instead of being intimidated, the revisitation process he undertook for the reissue helped inspire him. According to Roach, “The Delicate Forever maps out a new phase in my current work, reaching further towards a deeper ineffable experience.”

    Like discs two and three of Structures From Silence, The Delicate Forever was created using primarily analog equipment during 2013 and 2014 at the Timeroom in Southern Arizona. Classic Roach, The Delicate Forever reflects his current obsession with tonality and colour, and is as refined an example of his time-suspending ambient-electronic artistry as one might hope to find. Though five tracks are indexed and separately titled, the seventy-four-minute sound painting unfurls without pause, its tones and washes gently rising and falling like the breathing rhythms of a peacefully sleeping infant. The indexing is justified, however, as there are distinct changes in sound design from one track to the next, even if Roach executes the transitions so gradually the changes could go unnoticed by the less attentive listener. There’s a clear difference between the subdued title track and the one that follows it, for example, with “The Well Spring” illuminating its vibrant landscape with a synthesizer presence that’s comparatively brighter and more emphatic than the opener’s. The brooding ambiance and haunted character of “Where the Mysteries Sleep,” on the other hand, clearly distances it from “The Well Spring,” while “Perfect Sky” introduces a church-like quality in its emphasis on organ-styled tones.

    Ultimately, The Delicate Forever doesn’t offer some radical reinvention of Roach’s style, but long-time devotees probably wouldn’t want it any other way. The album’s simply the most up-to-date example of the man’s musical artistry and one that presumably the Roach fan will be eager to add to his or her collection.

  6. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Rockerilla

    Dopo aver lavorato alla ristampa del capolavoro Structures From Silence (da poco ripubblicato in una magnifica edizione di tre CD), Steve Roach ha sentito che era il momento giusto per comporre un nuovo lavoro ispirato dalla tranquilita di quall’opera. E nato cosi The Delicate Forever, una raccolta di cinque tracce per settantaquattro minuti di durata, un flusso senza soluzione di continuita di delicate introspezioni minimaliste ai limiti del silenzio. Steve Roach dimentica per una volta di essere lo sciamano dell’ignoto e si concentra su quei suoni che hanno reso immortali i suoni primi capolavori. L’utilizzo di vecchi sintetizzatori analogici dona calore e profundita al disco. Il disco zen di Steve Roach. -Roberto Mandolini

  7. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Ettore Garzia

    Roach’s music knows a substantial difference compared to that of Eno and other ambient musicians: it does not search for relaxation or radiant textures of the surrounding reality; on the contrary, it wants to get (through an intelligent use of music) the necessary strength for the understanding of man and his relationship with the surrounding nature. Even today, we talk about the music of Roach in the same manner in which we were talking about his music thirty years ago: the reason lies in the fact that this difference was also perceived by the audience, creating a musical current that relates exclusively to him.

    The last release of Roach, The Delicate Forever, was born probably on the basis of the wave of appreciation for the seminal disc of 1984, Structures from Silence, since it seems to follow the same structure of that album: the beautiful jingle of notes that lulls the listener in “The well spring” seems to be an excellent copy of that used in “Reflections in suspension”, as well as the inner depths of “Perfect sky” collect the voids of a journey of the soul in the same way of “Quiet friend”. Beautiful drone structures compose the spells of “Hearafter,” while The Delicate Forever is not able to replicate the melodic beauty of the synthesized breaths of Structures from Silence. -Ettore Garzia

    Italian:
    Nella prospettiva di ricerca delle fonti della musica ambient, il giornalista irlandese Mark Prendergast, nel suo libro “Ambient century”, tenne fuori Steve Roach sia dai produttori di stile che dalla lista dei 100 indispensabili lavori di quel genere. Non penso si trattò di una dimenticanza, la verità è che Roach è sempre stato considerato criticamente in maniera diversa, forse solo per il fatto di essersi imposto in un movimento che era già in tendenza al suo arrivo. Ma nell’arte, si sa, c’è sempre qualcuno che prende i meriti di qualcosa che si sviluppa in più soggetti spesso silenti. Il passaggio da una mera condivisione dell’elettronica berlinese allo stile per cui è riconoscibile, è avvenuto con Structures from Silence nel 1984, che quest’anno festeggia il trentennale con una nuova edizione in cd ripulita e riportata a nuovo: in quel momento storicamente l’ambient music era stata già introdotta da Brian Eno, ma la corrente di Los Angeles aveva già carpito nuove sfumature: se quella di Eno era ambient music “terrena”, fatta per rappresentare ambienti circoscritti all’evidenza del nostro apparato visivo ed uditivo, quella di Roach era ambient music a sfondo “psicologico”. Come corriere cosmico Roach ne incarnava una misteriosa figura che non aveva bisogno di indagare nello spazio andando a scovare le sue propaggini, ma rimaneva inchiodato a terra cercando di trovare il respiro del cosmo partendo dalla centralità dell’uomo, un benessere che si poteva raggiungere subdolamente attraverso la musica impostata in un certo modo (il synth Oberheim OB8 diventò lo strumento di questa ricerca). L’indiretto riferimento al “benessere” fu il motivo per cui Roach dovette fare i conti anche con il pubblico degli hippies americani devoti alla new age music, poichè il confine tra ambient e new age nel suo caso era interpretabile (nella sua divisione) solo dagli addetti ai lavori: nella musica di Roach non c’era però la ricerca del relax o di radiose tessiture della realtà circostante; piuttosto il contrario, ottenere attraverso della musica intelligente, la forza necessaria alla comprensione dell’uomo e dei suoi rapporti con la natura circostante. E se, ancora oggi, si parla di lui allo stesso modo con cui si parlava trent’anni fa, il motivo sta nel fatto che la differenza è stata percepita anche dall’audience, creando una corrente musicale riferibile solo a lui.

    L’ultima pubblicazione di Roach, The Delicate Forever, nasce probabilmente sulla base di questa onda di rivalutazione adottata per quel seminale disco del 1984, poichè sembra ricalcarne strutture e motivazioni: lo splendido tintinnio di note che culla l’ascoltatore in “The well spring” sembra essere un’eccellente copia di quello usato in “Reflections in suspension”, così come gli abissi interiori di “Perfect sky” raccolgono i vuoti di un viaggio dell’anima alla stessa maniera di “Quiet friend”. Strutture dronistiche finissime accolgono gli incantesimi di “Hearafter”, mentre The Delicate Forever non è in grado di replicare la bellezza melodica dei respiri sintetizzati di Structures from Silence. -Ettore Garzia

  8. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Onda Rock

    Nel 1984, esattamente trent’anni fa, Steve Roach coniava quello che sarebbe divenuto l’autentico glossario dell’ambient music per come la conosciamo oggi: Structures From Silence costituisce le solide fondamenta su cui poggiano e affondano le radici gran parte delle odierne espressioni del verbo ambientale, dalle più evocative alle più sperimentali. Proprio in occasione di una data tanto importante – festeggiata come di consueto dalla puntuale Projekt con un’imperdibile deluxe edition del disco – l’instancabile e irrefrenabile maestro californiano torna a percorrere da una serie di prospettive quella strada, in un anno che lo ha visto ridurre drasticamente la sua prolificità (trattasi “solo” della seconda uscita dopo la bella collaborazione con Kelly David, la prima in solitaria).

    Il bagaglio di inquadrature scelte questa volta non è in realtà così inedito, ma dista di sicuro parecchio dalle ultime esperienze sia discografiche che dal vivo, nelle quali Roach pareva essersi concentrato sulle tinte più brillanti (i recenti concerti “cosmici) e maestose (Soul Tones e Future Flows, oltre alle varie collaborazioni con Byron Metcalf e il già citato David) della sua vasta tavolozza. A tornare protagonisti qui sono invece i colori più tenui e generativi della sua musica, quelli che proprio “Structures From Silence” aveva introdotto, pronti a subire negli anni varie evoluzioni attraverso una manciata di lavori memorabili. The Delicate Forever è fra gli album più variopinti e riassuntivi della carriera del sempreverde veterano, essendo la delicatezza l’unico comun denominatore scelto per legare le sue cinque suite.

    La title track potrebbe davvero essere un outtake del celebrato capolavoro, per qualità e coerenza sonora: un lungo e reiterato flusso che torna a convertire il minimalismo spazializzato di Eno e della sua “1/1” nell’immagine dinamica del moto ondoso. Venticinque intensissimi minuti del Roach più organico e quieto dai tempi di Afterlight, il cui buio si tramuta in “Perfect Sky” nella più classica e pittoresca inquietudine cosmica (e qui la memoria richiama inequivocabilmente la coppia “dark” formata da Darkest Before Dawn e Dynamic Stillness). Totalmente contrapposto a queste ambientazioni è l’altrettanto splendido carillon di “The Well Spring”, la cui danza di arpeggiatori va addirittura a recuperare quelle primissime esperienze di memoria berlinese già rispolverate nel gioiello Sigh Of Ages.

    Altrettanto a fuoco, per quanto decisamente meno suggestive, sono l’esplorazione dell’inospitale grotta di “Where The Mysteries Sleep” e la chiusura sottovoce affidata a “HearAfter”, un tappeto di droni bagnato da gocce limpide. Da prenotarsi in fretta e non lasciarsi scappare è invece la splendida dilatazione della title track, allungata a settantatre minuti e offerta in cinquecento copie su solo CD a nome The Delicate Beyond, un ipotetico destino alternativo per un disco al solito magistrale. Nel trentesimo anniversario di uno dei momenti più importanti della sua carriera e dell’ambient music tutta, Steve Roach aggiunge dunque l’ennesimo tassello di qualità ad una discografia sempre più monumentale, riaffermando (seppur senza alcun bisogno) l’impossibilità di spodestarlo da un trono che continua ad essere (e con tutta probabilità resterà) solo e soltanto suo. Rating: 7 (very good) -Matteo Meda

  9. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Paper Blog

    It seems kind of odd to be reviewing a relatively recent Steve Roach release, because knowing him he’ll probably have another three out by the time I finish writing this review. All kidding aside, this gentleman is prolific, but he’s the grandpappy of ambient music, after all, so he gets to do what he wants.

    Fortunately, doing what he wants is working for him, because as I faithfully purchase each release, the quality somehow stays at his traditionally high level. I’m highlighting this particular 2014 release because of all of Roach’s albums of the last couple of years, this is the one that really floats my boat. (I should point out that another album, The Long Night, is just as new.)

    It’s a question of personal taste, of course. Arizona-based Roach has worked in a variety of ambient subgenres for some time (most of which he probably invented) and naturally excels at each; some of them I prefer more than others. For instance, his heavily sequenced, more energetic albums usually do very little for me, although for some reason Spiral Meditations very much does. At the other end of spectrum is the languid, minimal and peaceful sound of albums like New Life Dreaming (a personal favourite), Low Volume Music, most of the Immersion series, and Darkest Before Dawn. Now, those releases are where it’s at for me. You can read my post listing some of his finest albums here.

    The Delicate Forever is a five-track release that is mainly notable (to me) for the extremely, excruciatingly beautiful title track, in which we find Roach at his most spartan and tranquil. And I can assure you, while Roach’s leviathan status in the genre is, to be sure, partially attributable to him being there at the beginning of it all and producing a large body of work (and partly dumb luck, as all success is), when he is on, his work contains an ineffable, expansive quality that could only be the product of a mind of great spiritual fulfilment. This sound is as vast as the ether, and when he’s at his best, Roach does this as well or better than anyone else.

    The Delicate Forever is based simply on an undulating wave of what could be either a pad or a processed guitar (his site is not specific), accompanied over the twenty-four-minute duration only by tinkling synth sounds that resemble water dropping into an underground pool. It’s similar to the wonderful track “Perfect Dream” from New Life Dreaming.

    That’s it, and that’s all it needs. It could go on for quite a while longer, and I’d be happy. Here is a true master at work; enlightenment is found in the spaces between the notes, in the little touches, in the very simplicity of the piece.

    Folks, this is ambient music in its purest form. If you don’t like this, you may not have a future as a listener of this kind of music.

    The other four tracks are in a style well known to Roach fans, the closest previous approximation being the fabulous Mystic Chords and Sacred Spaces. “Well Spring” is based on delicate, trancelike sequencing and drifting pads — classic Roach, while next two tracks, “Where the Mysteries Sleep” and “Perfect Sky” are very much in the Mystic Chords style, with cascading notes that might sound atonal if not softened by effects, and which sonically mirror the gentle chaos of the natural world.

    And finally, “Hear After”, presumably a rumination on mortality, presents a slightly disquieting but still beautiful drone with more delicate dissonance and mysterious sounds from the great beyond, sending our souls into the next … whatever comes next.

    I wouldn’t call this album a “return to form”, because in my opinion the quality of Roach’s work has been remarkably consistent, but as an avid ambient music listener, it may mean something that to me this is the finest of Roach’s recordings of the last few years. Missing it would be your loss. -Allistert

  10. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Santa Sangre

    On the occasion of celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the release of Structures From Silence, Steve Roach released a 3-CD edition on Projekt, containing a remastered version of the original tracks, as well as new tracks, and new versions of the old ones reworked in his Timeroom studio in 2013-2014. During these sessions the inspiration came to him to explore ‘the underlying current of life – mortality’, in the artist’s own words. Thus The Delicate Forever was born, which is now being released just a few months later. Interesting fact: upon ordering the physical CD, you get a bonus disc of The Delicate Beyond, a limited edition release that contains the extended version of the first track of this album.

    The title for this release is more than adequate, as the atmosphere it creates is so fragile and otherworldly that it feels as if it might shatter to little pieces at the slightest touch. Iridescent drops of water reflecting a blinding light, abstract-shaped crystal formations, the soothing whispers of time. The delicate forever. A concept so unreachable that it resembles a desert mirage. Always the thirsty traveller is striving towards it, always it eludes his grasp. Just a little longer, just a little further, until he forgets what he started out to do, and the journey teaches him a lesson he didn’t expect.

    This sensation of sweet reverie and spiritual abandonment sinks in from the first few minutes of the opening track, the homonym The Delicate Forever. This 24-minute long masterpiece of electronic minimalism confirms my belief that a truly great ambient artist is one who knows not only how to use his sound arsenal, but how to use silence as well. Steve Roach excels at it, and The Delicate Forever if nothing else, is proof of that. Consisting almost entirely of melodic, ethereal drones and ringing, organic sounds, it is the silent passages and sound vacuums throughout the track that create a kind of detached expectancy, a tension so well-balanced that at no point does it ruin the beauty of the track. Which, of course, is the main issue here. This track is so beautifully refined that it immediately disconnects the listener from the outside world, even without prior preparation. As soon as the headphones are on, you cannot help but be in awe of this connection line to an elevated plane. Of this glimpse into another dimension.

    The second track, “The Well Spring” is positively more upbeat, closer to new-age electronica than drone ambient. Its uplifting tones suggest movement and invigoration, potentially related to the spring mentioned in the title. “Where The Mysteries Sleep” is full of ringing, chiming sounds, electronic loops and ethereal ambient passages. Along the basic harmonic lines little sounds pop up here and there like bubbles in a hot spring, pleasantly surprising the listener. The atmosphere is that of praying into a Buddhist temple – in fact the lotus flower persistently comes to my mind as an atypical symbol for this album – or discovering dozens of little creatures, somewhat friendly and curious to meet us, in this realm full of marvels.

    “Perfect Sky” furthers the illumination with its clear, light harmonies evoking an ascent towards the divine, an inner purification. While the other tracks are more inclusive, this one is sharper and rather opaque, more like a mirror reflecting the light than a translucent body of water. Shapeless and constantly transforming, it resembles the fleeting movement of clouds.

    While the three middle tracks are of a decisively lighter tone, the endnotes of “Perfect Sky” seamlessly link us to the closing track, “HearAfter”, bringing a little darkness into this luminous atmosphere. And so the album ends with the same introspective mood that it began, returning to the droning hums of the opening track, that this time are a bit fuzzy, peaking and intermingling to create a tunnel of harmonic light that will subsequently lead us to the ‘other side’.

    Is an artist really capable of putting this thing to sound, this thing so sacred and so elusive that it has escaped accurate description by sages and mystics from time immemorial? If anyone can, it is surely Steve Roach. The Delicate Forever is most of all a spiritual and emotional journey, suffused with potent imagery that recalls the ever-relevant question: ‘what lies beyond?’ Steve Roach exorcises all the fearful notions we may have been imbibed with in relation to this topic, with the subtle, ethereal beauty and calmness of this record. Whatever it is, it sounds graceful and comforting. The album’s soothing tones allow for the inclusion of personal emotions, interpretations, experiences; for the understanding and acceptance of loss, the discarding of our fear of the unknown. The unknown could be a wonderful place, other things than monsters could be lying there. -Vitriol

  11. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Sequenzer Welten

    Was ist das Besondere an der Musik von Steve Roach?
    Diese Frage stand schon öfters im Raum …. der Gedanke wurde intensiver, als der erste Titel The Delicate Forever (24:42) noch lief. Wie ist dieser Erfolg mit Teils so minimalistischem Einsatz der Geräte möglich ? Die Antwort kam schon Anfangs der nächsten Titel: Steve Roach ist in der Lage, dass er mit minimalistischen Mitteln immer wieder neue Klangbilder erschaffen kann, die uns die Musik auch visuell neu erscheinen lässt :-)

    Es kommt einen vor, als wenn aus einem unendlich weitem Raum irgendwo ganz feine Klänge kommen. Niemand kann erahnen, geschweige denn sehen, woher sie kommen…. sie sind einfach da und nehmen die ganze Konzentration ein ….. im Moment kann ich die Musik einfach nicht anders beschreiben. Die -The Delicate Forever- ist einfach ein wirklich feines und sanftes Klangerlebnis :-)

    Zu dem Kauf der “Forever” gab es als Bonus die “Beyond” dazu, eine 74 Minütige Oase der Ruhe und Harmonie. Das Stück “The Delicate Forever” in der langen Version. Hier kommt dann spätestens wieder die Frage auf, die ich als Einleitung dieser Rezi gestellt hatte 😉 Mit diesen beiden CDs hat Steve Roach wiedermal was richtig Gutes geschaffen. Nicht nur für Fans sehr empfehlenswert. -Uwe Sasse

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