2. Motivating Factor 06:43
3. Synesthete 06:18
4. Bloom Ascension 16:11
LP: 140 gram black vinyl. Limited edition of 500.
CD: 4-panel digipak, first edition of 1200
|Purchase in Europe for fast, inexpensive shipping:
Information in English here. Click to order CD or LP.
Bloom Ascension is a resplendent expression of elegant futurism.
The rich melodic and rhythmic symmetry of this kaleidoscopic bloom of interlocking electronic music was created specifically for the canvas of time inherent to the vinyl LP format. Bloom Ascension‘s spiraling analog synth/sequencer-driven sound conveys vibrant energy and radiant optimism woven into the core of these living, breathing musical mandalas.
This is Steve’s first release conceptualized for LP since Desert Solitaire (1989). The timing is perfect for a statement like this — a natural expansion and evolution upon the sound of his recent Grammy-nominated Spiral Revelation (2017) and Molecules Of Motion (2018).
Following upon the momentum of those two albums, Steve notes, “Bloom Ascension grew from the inspiration to envision an album that’s the same musical experience across all formats (LP, CD, download, streaming and cassette.) In order to maximize the fidelity of the LP’s dynamic deep bass and crisp detailed high end, I settled upon a 44-minute canvas. This set up a time structure that empowered and focused the creative process.”
Handmade music cultivated on analog tools continues to be a staple of Steve’s sound. He reflects, “This 4-part suite engages the listener in the spontaneous process in which the music evolved; it captures the sense of urgency and the direct transmission of pure emotion I felt at that moment in my Timeroom studio. Working this way, the infinite detail and visceral sonic impact of the large format and eurorack analog modular synthesizer systems feeds the mental states this music activates — hyper-alert, expansive and kinetic, yet suspended and calm at the center. The album title itself draws inspiration from the patterns of symmetry and organic beauty found in nature, while on another level there’s awareness of the unfoldment that modular-based music is seeing worldwide.”
Steve Roach is a leading American pioneer in the evolution of ambient/electronic music, helping shape it into what it is today. His career stretches across four decades and almost 150 releases. Drawing from a vast, unique and deeply personal authenticity, his albums are fueled by a lifetime dedicated to the soundcurrent. Steve is an artist operating at the pinnacle of his artform, driven by his passion and unbroken focus on creating a personal vision of electronic music steeped in emotion and organic subtlety.
A unique petal on this bloom is the track “Synesthete” which relates to the idea of synesthesia: a sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, such as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain color. Steve recently discussed this concept with Psychology Today: “This new release embraces the fusion of being both a synthesist (one who creates with a synthesizer) and synesthete. This is clearly about the correlation of the sound-color-taste-texture and three-dimensional sound activation and immersion experience I strive for in my work. This is more than just my own relationship with this trait throughout my life, for years listeners have reported their own experience of synesthesia in my work. This release will celebrate this aspect of our perception.”
”Music certainly lives beyond any one physical medium, or ultimately no medium at all except for perhaps the atmosphere we inhabit. On reflection, this rotational music feels absolutely at home playing on the spiraling medium of a physical format, as if being generated directly out of the device as it spins.”
Bloom Ascension debuted at #5 on Billboard’s New Age Album Chart
Release Date: August 30 2019.
• Mention in Sonic Immersion
• Mention in Avant Music News
• Mention in Los Angeleno
• Mention in Hyperallergic
• Mention in New Age Music
• #8 on September 2019 Chart at New Age Music Guide
From Musique Machine
Arizona native ambient electronic veteran Steve Roach has continued an incredibly prolific output long into his forty plus year career. Bloom Ascension is one of nine albums released in 2019 alone. While I’ve found some of these releases to contain more substance than others, the celestial beauty of his signature pad tones and reverberant soundspace remains intact in all of these releases.
Bloom Ascension is similar in sound to recent albums such as Molecules of Motion, or if you’re looking further back, Arc of Passion or Immersion: Five. Filtered, arpeggiated 32 step sequences repeat and gracefully rise and fall in modulation, but don’t shift drastically enough to disrupt the soothing stillness, gliding continuously in a gentle, constant momentum, like the water in a stream. There are no distinct melodies or chordal shifts, just a bubbling cloud-like murmur as permutations of a scale are observed. Faint percussion dances about the periphery of the arpeggiation, but doesn’t strike any strong accents. It exists at an energy level below the bright timbres of albums like Electron Birth, Proof Positive or Empetus.
Roach has spent his life perfecting this Berlin School adjacent style, preserving the Germans’ love of bright, clean tones and arpeggios, with quite a few less punctuated notes and explicitly sequenced passages, preferring improvisation and heavily layered, vaporous sound spaces. The four pieces found on Bloom Ascension are colorful, deep, and detailed, with subtle hints of emotion within their contemplative tonalities; a pleasant listen.
As for whether they distinguish themselves within Roach’s massive canon, I find they do not, and that this is an increasingly difficult feat to manage among his massive catalog, containing many classics. Bloom Ascension doesn’t have the vivid immediacy or unfamiliar tonalities of Skeleton Keys, or the haunting nocturnal vastness of Mercurius. It can’t touch the fierce individuality of his older classics like Mystic Chords or Dreamtime Return. It takes its place in my mind as a lesser cousin of Molecules of Motion, something like a postscript.
Steve Roach’s Bloom Ascension contains four quality works of arpeggio synthesis and ambient effects, but not much in the way of a theme or distinctive sound when compared to his other works. Ambient completists will enjoy the soft, sensitive timbres and thoughtful mood of this record, but most listeners would be best served to investigate Roach’s more memorable works first. -Josh Landry
Though the perception of time is a subjective experience, one commonality discovered by researchers is that humans tend to think of time like space, thus navigating it using metaphors involving things like movement and location. It’s this physical sense of time that informs Steve Roach’s Bloom Ascension. Utilizing analog synths and sequence-driven rhythm and sound, Roach maps past, present, and future throughout the four tracks. There is a juxtaposition of movement and suspension: the sequences act as anchors, allowing the more ambient elements to expand and contract. The opening track, “The Beauty Relentless,” is kinetic, sometimes skittering, but still connected to something fluid as patterns allow it to float, drift, and circle back again. “The Motivating Factor” is a slow push into space that finds urgency as though aware of time passing. “Synesthete” nods to its very definition of blending senses and perceptual crossover with its myriad connections and shifts in textures. The closing track, “Bloom Ascension,” spreads out as though alive and living. -Em Maslich
From The Big City
Steve Roach’s entire career of music making has revolved around two general poles: generative music and pattern-based music. The former coalesces through time out of tendrils of sound, like the way gravity draws gas together in space until the resultant mass ignites into a star, while the latter is music that comes out of sequencers, building and layering patterns into textures that transform as they amble along. The great example of his generative music is the classic Structures from Silence, while my favorite of his pattern music albums is Skeleton Keys, a great album.
Two 2019 releases from Roach mix these ideas. Bloom Ascension is sequenced throughout, while Trance Archeology takes an arch shape that gradually generates itself into patterns that eventually drift away. Of these two, I find Bloom Ascension the most satisfying, every moment is one that leads me to the next, and the result is the kind of cleansing experience that Roach strives for. There are moments of this as well in Trance Archeology, but there is also a gap between the quality of the generative washes of sound, which are standard but not exceptional, and the patterns that start to build once the album reaches its title track.
Roach is prolific (making music is as much a daily personal practice for him as it is the idea of creating something to present to others, you can read more about his thoughts in this interview I did with him for Bandcamp)—and at least to my listening his pattern-based explorations have been the most consistently successful over the last five years. He’s just set up his own Bandcamp page where you can subscribe to his output, and that’s sure to deliver a lot of music.
Steve Roach’s Bloom Ascension & Trance Archeology Review
Steve Roach has always worked in phases. There was his early, Berlin School phase, the techno-tribal phase which launched with Dreamtime Return, the drone zone phase, which is always happening with Roach and now, the analog sequencer dervish phase. Since his 2015 CD of the Month, Skeleton Keys, Roach has been going back to modular synths in deeper way than he ever did in the 1980s. The results, heard on Bloom Ascension, have been a music driven by spiraling sequencer patterns that evolve and mutate across a large expanse of time, although for Roach, these are relatively short pieces. He’s evolving from Skeleton Key’s ringing non-keyboard approach, using sweeping synth chords that swell in spectral orchestras throughout tracks like “The Beauty Relentless”.
Of course, no sooner did we pick this as a bonus CD, than Roach drops yet another album, Trance Archeology. It’s his third in 2019, after eight releases in 2018.
Trance Archeology finds Roach returning to his techno-tribal sound with acoustically percussive rhythms and strange but organically morphing sound effects of creaks and ratchets. “Spawn of Time” lives up to its foreboding title in a ritual dance through the underworld. “Indigo Moon” is a meditative expanse by comparison as pristine timbres shimmer through water-drop focus. “Long Shadow” takes that approach deeper and darker in one of Roach’s deeply evolving drone zone works.
But the most interesting tracks may be the “Trance Genealogy” which seems to merge his analog modular and sequencer driven sound with a more organic, but no less electronic sound design. In a way this may be the most varied of Roach’s latest albums. It’s not just sequencers on stun or drone zones to the abyss. Instead, he taps many veins of his music in the last three decades, creating individual tracks but in a coherent world.
“Birthpulse” shares a techno-tribal lineage with “Spawn of Time” while “Firebreather” extends that sound into a menacing dervish of heavy percussion loops accented and laced by splotchy sounds like they were being squeezed out of a tube of toothpaste. Roach was never afraid to be scary in his music and this could be a score to a very dark horror film. -John Diliberto
There are very few aspects of electronic music that separates a brilliant piece of work from the rest, and Steve Roach has this uncanny knack of exploring that aspect beautifully. Imagination. Imagination creates possibilities and lets the listener weave stories around the music. This is where a listener feels totally lost and is able to momentarily forget the surroundings.
With Bloom Ascension, Steve has captured that aspect with vibrant and energetic sounds and allowed the listeners to dive deep in aural and sonic treasures. There are four tracks on the album and all are fast-paced, full of vigor. The title track is the longest one.
‘The Beauty Relentless’ leaves the listener with a powerful experience with loops, synth spirals creating a mesmerizing spacey feel. Interestingly, the track has a rhythmic base, which makes it sound almost like a dance number.
‘Motivating Factor’ is even more powerful, and as the name suggests offers a very effective sound experience that can make you get up and ready for the task at hand. If you ever feel down and lost in life, this is the kind of music that could lift your spirits up. Sound energy at its palpable best!
‘Synesthete’ is another beautiful presentation offering you time to let go of and soar with the sound waves. It is the smallest track of the album.
With the title track, the artist comes back again to the powerful and energetic theme of the album–ascension. Where you keep on rising as the time passes and as the heart feels the bloom of new aspirations, dreams and resolves. To bring so much motivation and power in electronic music is no mean feat, and congratulations are in order for Steve who has once again excelled at this.
A wonderful album that packs a punch and uplifts drooping spirits with some impactful sounds. -Vivek Kumar
Best New Ambient, September 2019
Over the span of his four-decade career, Steve Roach has been an undeniable influence on modern ambient music and has dabbled in every sound, subgenre and idea imaginable. His newest LP builds on concepts of futurism and spontaneity—leveraging excitement and energy through expansive synth sounds and instrument layers while maintaining a sense of calm throughout the natural journey of these cuts. Even across four tracks, the emotional focus is spellbinding.
This is Chill
Steve Roach returns to Los Angeles this Friday August 30th, 2019 at the Ambient Church
Before the last weekend in August and in particular Friday, August 30th (2019) will be the date when ambient and electronic music pioneer Steve Roach returns to the Los Angeles area, performing live at the Ambient Church in Pasadena, CA. It’s set for two hours, featuring work spanning his 40-year career including portions from his 1988 album Dreamtime Return. Throughout his performance, the 132-year-old First United Methodist Church of Pasadena will be the backdrop of immersive, architecturally mapped projections.
This performance will also include music from his upcoming new album Bloom Ascension, scheduled for release on August 30th (2019).
Reflecting on his return Steve said, “I am currently prepping my set for the Pasadena concert — my live return to Los Angeles. The energy is building, and coming back to where it all started in the ’80s — Los Angeles — adds to the excitement. For this performance, the wide range of my work will be experienced, including portions of 1988’s Dreamtime Return. The large, concert hall environment of the church, combined with knowing so many friends of the music are coming in from across the globe all will add up to a special moment in time.”
The ambient music composer has been recording and releasing music since the early 1980s. His 1988 album Dreamtime Return was described as “one of the pivotal works of ambient music” and “groundbreaking,” and the album has been included on a number of lists of the world’s best music, including 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. That said, it wasn’t until the end of this decade that Roach finally got attention from mainstream award ceremonies when he was nominated for the Grammy Award for New Age Album of the Year in back to back years, starting with 2017’s album Spiral Revelation and 2018’s album Molecules of Motion.
This newfound “success” didn’t seem lost on him either as he shared the following post on his Facebook page after his 2019 appearance at the Grammy’s, “To all my friends of the music. This weekend has really been about feeling the momentum of living life on the creative edge for the last 45 years. There is no winning or losing, it’s about being fully present and embracing the moment and tuning into what’s next as it’s happening.”
In addition, Steve Roach has scheduled additional live shows in Santa Fe, NM at the Paradiso on September 21st and 22nd. This is the same venue as his sold-out Dreamtime Return‘s 30th Anniversary show from 2018. According to his website, the full spectrum of Steve’s works will be heard, including material from his upcoming new releases and will feature appearances with Michael Stearns and Rob Thomas. He will also close out the All Souls Procession Weekend in Tucson, AZ on Sunday, November 3rd with a 90 min performance. It will be the festival’s 30th anniversary.
From The LA Times
Ambient Church with Steve Roach
Ambient music artist Steve Roach reflects on his influential 40-year career with a transcendent one-off audiovisual performance at Pasadena’s First United Methodist Church. The seated event will span two hours, featuring a selection of the Grammy-winner’s work accompanied by immersive, architecturally mapped projects inside a 132-year-old church. Tickets start at $30. First United Methodist Church, 500 E. Colorado Blvd. 7 p.m. Friday, August 30, 2019.
From Sonic Sights & Speculation
Lightly dancing rapid rhythmic intricate patterns, endlessly swirling while overseen by searching spotlight
fingers of tones, complicated weaving and blending, layered currents and subcurrents. Imagine a whole
landscape of busy forms creating and shaping speckled structures made of smaller particles. Imagine
colors you have never seen before, rotating and spiraling in new ornamentations. Imagine inhabiting a
single cell in a vast four dimensional mosaic forest of light and sound. Imagine blooming flowers rising
straight up into the sunrise and rainbows reflected on the dew. The pattern repeats and builds, always the
same and never the same, simultaneously energizing and soothing, infinite and yet portable, somehow
these are not contradictions, this is my simple observation.
The electronic music that Steve Roach pioneered and helped define over the past 40 years has led to
the development of whole genres of electronic music, including tribal ambient, ambient atmospheric,
ambient electronic, immersive, and drone soundscapes. He sets up cycling layers of electronic sounds
and allows them to take us where they go. They fade in, you meet eternity, and after a time the track fades
out. Somehow his recordings always manage to fit infinity onto the recording medium. This is a collection
of four songs that are all sequencer based, weaving patterns that repeat in layered cycles, opening cosmic
doors the way drones do, leading the intrepid listener to reach a hypnotic sense of bliss and absorption, with
spiralling vibrating patterns and endless small details to explore and discover. This is superb music for
dreaming. These four tracks together create a single symmetrical audio mandala, for meditation, and for
experiencing the cosmos in nocturnal visions.
1. The Beauty Relentless 12:12
2. Motivating Factor 06:43
3. Synesthete 06:18
4. Bloom Ascension 16:11
Bloom Ascension was released in digital forms (streaming, MP3, FLAC, and audiophile) on
August 17, 2019. Physical formats (vinyl, audio cassette and CD) will be available at Steve Roach’s
Ambient Church Concert in Los Angeles, August 30. Early-bird tickets are advised.
Throughout the Ambient Church performance of his wide dynamic range of work, the First United Methodist
Church of Pasadena with its gothic style chapel, open beam ceiling, amphitheater sanctuary, pipe organ and
glowing stained glass windows, will be the backdrop of immersive, architecturally mapped projections.
Ambient Church (https://ambient.church) is a nomadic experiential event series dedicated to working with
artists to bring new ecologies to architecturally unique spaces through transcendent audio and visual
Inspired by Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Vangelis in the 1970s Steve Roach made a strategic and
intuitive career move from airborne maneuvers in motocross and taught himself how to play synthesizers
to reach for the thrilling and dazzling atmospheric heights of electronic music. He taught himself because
he knew exactly what he wanted to do, and waiting for his turn in a classroom would not allow him to
achieve what he has accomplished. He knew this when he started. He has two Grammy nominations, for
Spiral Revelation (2017) and Molecules of Motion (2018). He began his epic now 40 year journey into
electronica working with other pioneers such as the Swiss-born electronic musician Dieter Moebius,
releasing an album on Moonwind Records in 1979 titled Moebius. His first solo album was Now (1982)
followed by Structures from Silence (1984) and the Quiet Music series in 1986. Dreamtime Return
(1988) was one of the most significant albums of its kind to hit the market, and was praised by Linda
Kohanov who said of the album, “At the core of the Los Angeles-based artist’s compelling style is his
uncanny ability to create the illusion of suspended time. Altered chords that breathe ever so slowly,
floating textures, digitally sampled aboriginal timbres, and arresting special effects lead you through
a gently unfolding maze of sonic dimensions that depict a sense of mystery and confrontation with the
Bloom Ascension is entirely electronic, but the repository of musical treasure found coming from the
Timeroom is as spectacular and complex as the Tucson wilderness oasis where Steve Roach now makes
his home. He has visited Australia numerous times, perhaps he has returned to that exotic and distant place
after lifetimes spent living and dreaming there, where he added the mysterious sound of the didgeridoo to
his repertoire of fantastic euphonic instrumentalisms. His work with the musician Jorge Reyes introduced
Prehispanic musical elements to his sonic palette and developed an organic electronic fusion style now
called tribal-ambient. Other collaborators include Avant Garden, Biff Johnson, Brain Laughter, Brian
Parnham, Byron Metcalf, Daniel Blanchet, Djam Karet, Douglas Spotted Eagle, Erik Wøllo, Forrest Fang,
Justin Vanderberg, Kelly David, Kit Watkins, Lee Underwood, Loren Nerell, Lustmord, Lycia, Ma Ja Le,
Perry Silverbird, Peter Grenader, Robert Rich, Ross LewAllen, Solitaire (Elmar Schulte), Takadja, Temps
Perdu?, Thom Brennan, and Walter Holland. His Timeroom catalog includes over 150 titles; his albums can
be accessed and purchased worldwide, on Projekt Records, on his own website, and some are available
at Spotted Peccary Music’s online store.
Go to the Timeroom, you will discover that time itself has new meanings. You will never fully return, and you
will proceed forward enriched with treasures in the form of new dreams. -Robin B. James
From All Music
Steve Roach designed Bloom Ascension to fit the time constraints of the vinyl LP format — the label side of the compact disc even mimics the look of a vinyl record. As such, the album is focused and concise, with each of the four pieces moving at a natural, fluid pace. Spontaneously developed in Roach’s home studio, the selections cut to the chase and hone in on the most exciting moments of his improvisations. The title and artwork couldn’t be more appropriate for this music, as it feels like endlessly blooming artificial wildlife. The soft, swirling arpeggios and light, steady sweeps are joined by soft, pattering IDM beats at some moments, accenting the music’s ever-expanding forward momentum without making it feel like it’s trapped inside a rhythmic grid. The album’s title track is its longest and final piece, and it’s the most immersive one, sounding like it required the deepest amount of concentration from the composer. It also seems designed to lull the listener into a dream state more than the other pieces, as it’s much softer and gentler, yet still highly vivid and active. The entire LP sounds impeccable, with every minute detail sounding clear and distinct, constantly massaging the soul and inspiring the imagination. -Paul Simpson
From Star’s End
Bloom Ascension (41’25”) is a most striking creation. Here we find Steve Roach as musically insatiable as ever – and working through a life-long commitment to a distinct creative impulse. This album exemplifies the spare patterns, unwinding energy and low-boil minimalist vibe which propelled his Grammy nominated Molecules of Motion (2018) and Spiral Revelation (2017). A robustly orchestrated work, Bloom Ascension very nearly allows us to hear the musician’s mind at work. Conducting ample instrumental forces Roach combines an innate feel for texture and gesture with his interest in the sonic intensity of Electronic Music and the sensual potential of modular synthesis.
Each of the four tracks move high into the air, tracing graceful arcs of mechanical precision. With the rippling counterpoint of pinwheel dancing notes and skittering flows of sparked adventure we spin forward. As the whirling designs add additional mysteries, this work’s pulsing, generating minimalism portends a slow but relentless tide of change. In this subtle shift in perspective, a deep down dark descends – leaving behind a trail of echoing notes and quickening chords. Inspired by a dream, we wake to a prophetic mission – and a view of the world which belongs to us all. Exerting an emotional pull Bloom Ascension culminates with spirits revived. Building a world in volume and density, we are drawn in completely – held in a true electronic moment, and experiencing the invisible symbols of sound. -Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END
Reviews Editor –
A review from Expose
by Peter Thelen
Much like the cover art might suggest, Bloom Ascension uncovers numerous aspects of Roach’s more sequenced interests, melding the more dreamy elements of his floating ambient style to a very busy kinetic undercurrent; each of the four tracks here approaches this combination in a different way, but all are equally effective. The effect is spirit-lifting, gently morphing as is goes through various changes over the duration of each piece, and the listener won’t accidentally fall asleep at any point, even though there are slow moving loops of soft floating ambient vapor permeating every piece, the busy undercurrent of rapidly sequenced kaleidoscopic coloration mingles with it and works as a very effective counterbalance. There are certain points, especially toward the end of the sixteen minute title track, where the fast sequenced undercurrent dissipates completely, leaving the listener floating on a pillow of clouds. More typical, though, is “Synesthete” where the patterns of the sequences are higher in the mix and merge beautifully with ambient undercurrents and other timbral elements, all shapeshifting continuously over its six minute duration. The twelve minute opener, “The Beauty Relentless,” goes far in establishing the parameters of all that comes after it, the balance and symmetry while a driving energetic development ensues, as well as delivering the goods with respect to its title. In a general sense listeners who found Spiral Revelation (2017) and Molecules of Motion (2018) to their liking will find themselves right at home with Bloom Ascension. Interestingly, and unlike most of Roach’s recent CD releases that clock in at around 70-74 minutes, the four pieces here combined are an approprite length for an LP release at 41 minutes, each a discrete piece fading to black at the end (no crossfading), so it is being released as a CD and vinyl this time, as well as on cassette.