Archive for the ‘Blog from Sam’ Category
Joe is busy in Philadelphia packing up all your orders on the recent Chuck Van Zyl reissues.
Here’s the top-10 list for webstore sales in March: #1 Chuck van Zyl: The Relic (Limited to 300 Copies) (2CD) #2 Chuck van Zyl: Recitals 2 (2CD) #3 Steve Roach: Dreamtime Return (30th Anniversary Remastered) (2-LP VINYL) (pre-order, due early May) #4 Lisa Gerrard & Marcello De Francisci: Departum (CD) (Pre-Order, Expected Mid-April) #5 Chuck van Zyl: Recitals 1 & 2 (4CD Bundle) #6 Steve Roach: Dreamtime Return (30th Anniversary Remastered Edition) (2-CD) #7 Chuck van Zyl: The XYL File (2nd Pressing, Limited to 100 Copies) (CD) #8 Forrest Fang: Scenes from a Ghost Train (limited CD) #9 Chuck van Zyl: Celestial Mechanics (2nd Pressing, Limited to 100 Copies) (CD) #10 Robert Rich: The Biode (CD)
See all Chuck Van Zyl titles in the webstore here.
Robert reflects, “‘Sovereign’ is a piece that seemed to compose itself over the course of a few months. It was partly inspired by the number of months I spent in Mozambique and something of the majesty of the land and people – as well as the music I encountered – influenced the entire composition. The piece utilises a large range of analog and digital synthesizers – including a custom ‘vocal’ synthesizer I created with vowel sounds to ‘sing’ the lead melodies that were played in – as well various kinds of hand percussion, vocal sounds, field recordings and much more besides. In the second half the music shifts and the opening melody returns, now feeling quite different against the new form the rest of the music has taken. The feeling that seems to be invoked in the second half is especially important; I’d describe it as ‘otherness.’ Japanese music also influenced this composition, particularly the ‘royal’ aspect of the ending.”
“The Weaver,” the fifth track on Robert Logan’s Sculptor Galaxy, was inspired by an enrapturing experience of the natural surroundings he encountered while working alone at his village studio in the Hungarian wilderness.“The Weaver” – Listen at Bandcamp
Robert comments, “The weather patterns during the piece’s creation were wonderfully temperamental, with some incredible storms rolling in which shook the walls of the room where I created this music. But while those sounds and atmospheres did infiltrate the track’s formation, it was the unusual, wet stillness in the aftermath and quiet observations of plant life and intricate plantal sequences that particularly inspired the feeling behind the piece. Indeed, “The Weaver” has a somewhat different tonality to the rest of Sculptor Galaxy (even though the album is a continuous journey best heard as one long piece) in that it was written note-by-note in a microtonal 31-tone scale system, and an inspiration to its detailed interlocking threads was a book called The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants which explores the mathematical beauty and organisation of plant structures, along with minimalism/systems music. The piece’s dynamics flower in and out in rhythm to organic cycles.”Robert Logan Sculptor Galaxy | CD for $14 at Projekt / Download for $10 at Bandcamp / Download for $9.99 at iTunes
Expose Online wrote: “(Robert Logan’s) disc takes the explorative route in lieu of the predictable, and for that I’m calling Sculptor Galaxy one of the best electronic based releases of (the year).”
After six solo electronic/ambient albums and his 2016 collaborations with Steve Roach (Biosonic and Second Nature, Projekt) Logan’s new album blends unusual electronic and acoustic sources, terraforming bright, melodic molten sound with an enraptured experience of the natural world. Vibrant electronic performances, detailed tone-sculpting, processed natural sounds (captures from Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Hungarian village life and the UK’s shores), and unusual acoustic instruments inform a musical world of exotic majesty and boundless adventure.
Forrest Fang’s electronic creations are a surrealist blend of processed ethnic instruments and minimalist, ambient soundscapes. His new release, Scenes from a Ghost Train is in stores on February 2nd. We’ve put his catalog titles on sale through 1 am EST, Wednesday February 7th. Click here for a list of all titles.
by Mike G Electronic and ambient pioneer Steve Roach started creating his music during the late ‘70s golden age of analog synthesizers, a time when the digital variety was only visible on the horizon. So it’s refreshing that an album which continues that hands-on tradition, Spiral Revelation (2017), garnered his first-ever Grammy nomination.* Chosen in the Best New Age Album category, the album is crafted almost entirely with modular and stand-alone synthesizers, its sound grounded in the dynamic, spiraling interweave of melodic and rhythmic sequencer forms.
With its analog leanings, Spiral Revelation sounds utterly contemporary thanks to Roach’s technological sophistication and creative maturity. Yet the bubbling, kinetic melodies point to his origins, making it a natural place to begin the story of how far and wide he has travelled.
* Roach was nominated for a second grammy for Molecules of Motion (2018)
Born 1955 in La Mesa, California, Steve Roach self-released his first solo album in 1982. His early music was part of a wider progressive ambient movement that rose concurrently with new age music on America’s West Coast during the 1970s and peaked in the late ‘80s. Although it often intermingled easily with the best of the early new age genre, Roach’s music has always been created completely on its own terms, essentially defining his own genre. He drew upon his unique perspective, deeply rooted in a connection to the starkly beautiful landscapes and open spaces of the southwestern desert in which he grew up, to pioneer the inherently expansive breathing quality of his early releases.
“My life at that time was purely focused on drawing out an inner voice that had been building over many years: a feeling born from my immersion in the quiet spaces of the desert environment,” Roach reflects. “I could channel this feeling, this expansive atmosphere and blooming inner awareness. I was uncovering and discovering a palpable sense of stillness emanating from a soundcurrent of ‘silence.’”
Today, with a passionately prolific drive, Roach stands among the giants of modern ambient and is one of the most respected electronic musicians in the world. His discography is enormous with well over 100 releases. All of it is “ambient” in a way, but it’s better understood by singling out three major strands in his sound.
Firstly, there is the deep inspiration Roach draws from the German and European electronic space music tradition. You can certainly hear the legacy running throughout his work from Now (1982), Empetus (1986), Skeleton Keys (2015) and most recent Spiral Revelations (2017). There’s a through-line in these releases, where patterned, sequencer-driven music activates the consciousness with an invigorating sense of heightened perception; emotional and mind-expanding spiraling mandalas of sound are made from interwoven tapestries of melody, rhythm, tone and musical space.
A second strand present in Roach’s releases is floating ambience inspired by a sense of environmental space, time-expansion and silence. These diaphanous chords and suspended harmonics were first heard on his meditative masterpiece Structures From Silence (1984). Here and elsewhere in Roach’s rich oeuvre are outstanding examples of the evolving “breathing chords” central to his ongoing quest to humanize the music and release his machines from their mechanical moorings. This extraordinary sense of natural breath is an organic quality not easily realized with synthesizers. Diverse examples can be heard on the 3-CD Quiet Music (1986), the 4-cd opus Mystic Chords and Sacred Spaces (2003), running right up through the recent Nostalgia for the Future (2017) and Long Thoughts (2017).
Thirdly, there is an intoxicating tribal-ambient strand that runs deep in Roach’s music. On his recordings from the ‘90s he pioneered this subgenre, a dark electro-acoustic hybrid that today commands a devoted underground following. It all started with the epic Australia-inspired double-LP Dreamtime Return (1988) forged with tribal percussion, warm washes of synthesizer and location recordings of indigenous music and instrument samples. Later on came a number of benchmark collaborations with the shamanic Mexican musician Jorge Reyes such as Earth Island (1994), and his work with percussionist Byron Metcalf on eight releases including The Serpent’s Lair (2000) and Monuments of Ecstasy (2015). It’s dark-edged global exotica enveloped in Roach’s widescreen soundscapes.
At a Steve Roach live experience you might be fortunate enough to hear all these strands in a single show. Roach is an artist in his element on stage; from the very beginning of his career he has presented live electronic music in venues around the world, bringing this sound to life in the present moment with all its complexity, emotion and visionary nature. Roach invites the listener’s adventurous spirit to surrender to the dynamic journey that unwinds with power and grace. Whether it’s large scale shows in cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles, or more intimate performances in his hometown of Tucson, it is a remarkable immersive soundworld performed in real time. There is something deeply elemental about it; a sounding of the earth and the cosmos that’s been rendered into tones, visuals, and emotions that can be felt viscerally.
Always reaching towards what’s next on the horizon, Roach refuses to be tied down in any one stylistic direction. His worldwide audience continues to grow, and his innovations continue to inspire new and long-time listeners. Listening to a Steve Roach album, you’re hearing the momentum of a lifetime dedicated to the soundcurrent, an artist operating at the pinnacle of his artform, with dedication, passion and an unbroken focus on creating a personal vision of electronic music. Roach’s hypnotic swirl and kaleidoscopic sounds makes Spiral Revelation unlike anything else nominated for a Grammy this year and quite possibly, any previous year. It’s just one facet of a multi-faceted soundworld that stretches back four decades.
Welcome to the vortex.
• Feature article in the San Diego Union Tribune. • Radio interview on Tucson NPR’s Arizona Spotlight. Edited interview within the show in the top podcast, full interview in the podcast below. • A page on Steve’s upcoming February 2018 live appearance in Tucson, here • Projekt’s original Grammy-nomination post, November 2017 hereExtended Steve Roach interview:
Steve Roach hour-long interview podcast with Echoes. “As he’s just been nominated for a Grammy Award, I thought it would be a good time to talk to Steve Roach, the critically acclaimed electronic music artist who has released over a hundred albums since his debut in 1982. But his 2016 album, Spiral Revelation, is his first ever nomination in his 40 year career. He’s in the New Age category alongside Brian Eno, Kitaro, Peter Kater and inexplicably, India.Arie. Unlike other Echoes Podcasts, this is pretty much a raw interview in which Steve talked about the Grammys, his musical process, and his guilty music pleasure.”
From Sam Rosenthal: My life has been incredibly busy in the three weeks since Steve Roach received his Grammy nomination for Spiral Revelation. I’ve been contacting press and radio to spread the word, set up interviews, send out promo copies. I’ve also been preparing for Projekt’s switch to a new U.S. retail store distributor; on January 1st Projekt will be with Amplified who fullfill out of AEC/Alliance. I’ve been preparing spreadsheets, one sheets, and planning new releases and relaunches of end-of-2017 titles that kind of fell through the cracks at distribution. November was our Italian Distributor Audioglobe‘s best month ever for sales on Projekt titles! It’s really nice to see Europe coming out of “the crisis,” and buying CDs again. I’m now shipping stuffed boxes to Audioglobe every 6 weeks, half a decade ago it was every 6 months. This is great news! And even though I’ve often complained about the low rates artists get payed from streaming (Spotify, YouTube), it’s starting to add up, with streaming now over 1/3 of what our digital distributor pays. Well, that’s nice.
And over at Bandcamp, Projekt’s download store is very successful! I absolutely love that site, it’s my first recommendation when people ask where they should get Projekt downloads. And we do our occasional name-your-price releases, which bring a lot of new listeners to those titles.
I’ve rebooted the Black Tape For A Blue Girl patron page at Bandcamp. After the kerfuffle with Patreon changing their fee structures (and then withdrawing the #newfees when they realized how bad the idea was), I felt it was time to take the leap and move my patron site to a place where music is the priority. When you place your pledge, you get 9 free Black Tape For A Blue Girl catalog titles, plus an exclusive download of the new album in progress (instrumental mixes). The album is really coming along! My musical portion is nearly done, I have lyrics written for all the songs but one, I worked last week with Brian on drums for “All that I thought I wanted,” and Oscar & Dani are flying to Portland soon to record vocals; that’s thanks to my patrons who helped cover those plane tickets! If you like what I create: get a bunch of free music and show your support at at the BlackTapePatron page.
I have a folder in my email app where I file press, radio & sales that I want to inform you about. That information gets posted on our Twitter regularly, but the over-stuffed folder means it’s been ages since I’ve updated you by email. So here ya go!
Projekt’s Holiday sale at iTunes Canada: Excelsis Vol 1 ~ A Dark Noel | Ornamental (a Projekt Holiday compilation) | Jill Tracy: Silver Smoke, Star of Night (In the Shadow of Christmas)
Echoes Radio posted a 50 minute interview podcast with Steve Roach, covering a wide range of topics from his recent Grammy nomination to insights from his long and winding life as an artist in sound.
Tracks from Jeffrey Koepper’s Transmitter played on Galactic Travels on WDIY 88.1 FM, Allentown and Bethlehem, PA. Also on Secret Music on WVKR, Poughkeepsie NY. Also on Alien Air Music on KXLU 88.9FM Los Angeles, CA.
Tracks from Robert Logan’s Sculptor Galaxy played on Galactic Travels on WDIY 88.1 FM, Allentown and Bethlehem, PA. Also on One World Music Radio, UK
Tracks from Steve Roach’s Spiral Revelations played on Contemplation Connection on KKUP Cupertino, CA.
Projekt act MIRA are playing a reunion show Friday December 29 @ The Wilbury, Tallahassee, FL. Facebook event page.
Projekt Greatest Hits sale at iTunes through the end of the year Black Tape For A Blue Girl: The Best Of (deluxe) 5.99 Steve Roach: Rasa Dance $4.99 Dark Sanctuary: Thoughts $4.99 Trance to the Sun: The Finest Works of… $5.99 Thanatos: All I have Left $3.99 Erik Wollo: Vision… an introduction $3.99
Serenade For Falling Stars — Spotify Playlist An offering of exotic ethereal ghostly music for lovers, loners and dreamers. Created by Erick Scheid of Portland etherealwave band Mercury’s Antennae. Listen at Spotify.
Post-punk.com has a “40 years of Goth” post with the essential albums you should hear. Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s This Lush Garden Within is #38, and Lycia’s Cold is #40. They also have it a Spotify playlist, listen to a track from each album on the list.
The Story of Steve Roach’s Structures From Silence is a post on the Projekt site.
A Facebook comment about Projekt’s Excelsis holiday release: Excelsis is available at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. Because you’re a fan (and maybe already own a copy) you can get it for free (name-your-price) at Bandcamp!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sonic innovator Steve Roach received a Grammy Award nomination for his inspired Spiral Revelation release! As one of the original architects of the ambient/electronic genre, Roach’s 40 years of creating genre-defying soundworld experiences immersed with vital life energy and passion has been recognized by the members of the Recording Academy in this Grammy nomination for “Best New Age Album.”
“Spiral Revelation stands out as a true, mind-tripping, trance inducing album. (It’s) a quintessential example of Roach’s sequencer driven oeuvre.” – John Diliberto, Echoes syndicated radio program
The 60th Grammy Awards will be held in New York City on January 28, 2018. For info: grammy.com
An emotional through-line brings life to Spiral Revelation as the unfurling of time’s windings connects to the vivid present, life-affirming and illuminated. The release is a masterful expression of an artist who has infused his soul into the art form of electronic music through years of dedication exploring sound via hands-on synthesis.
Steve Roach is a pioneer in the evolution of ambient/electronic music, shaping it into what it is today. The extremely prolific American artist has a discography of over 125 albums. Following his 1982 debut, landmark recordings include Structures from Silence, Dreamtime Return and 2017’s Grammy-nominated Spiral Revelation. Tireless in his creative focus, Roach constantly challenges boundaries in work ranging in style from rhythmic analog sequencer music, pure floating spaces, primordial tribal-ambient and long-form drift ambient. He brings to the table years of dedication and experience exploring sound via hands-on synthesis. With the sense of an artist working in three dimensional space, Steve creates a sonic experience that breathe power, passion and vital life energy.
Spiral Revelations. The sound of life, interconnected and unfurling. The spiral – a visual symbol of eternity – is a reoccurring metaphoric theme in Steve Roach’s pioneering electronic work. Interpreted into musical form, these six spiraling sonic experiences offer a living activation that connects with a sense of the infinite. Roach’s long history and love of analog sequencer-based styles reveal a continuing, evolving awakening within Spiral Revelation’s 63 minutes. Focussing the mind’s ear upon a filigree of intricate patterns woven with a direct hands-on approach, the artist sculpts and caresses sound into being in real time. An emotional through-line brings life to these pieces as the unfurling of time’s windings connects to the vivid present, life-affirming and illuminated. A masterful expression of an artist who has infused his soul into the art form of electronic music.
Projekt is a Portland, Oregon-based independent record label that specializes in electronic, ambient, gothic and darkwave, started by Sam Rosenthal in 1983. Prominent Projekt artists include Rosenthal’s own Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, Eric Wollo, Voltaire and Lycia. With over 350 releases, it is one of America’s longest running independently-owned recording labels specializing in the electronic music genre.Recent press on Steve’s Grammy nomination
musictap.com synthtopia.com Echoes Radio. John Diliberto writes: Steve Roach tops this excellent 2017 Grammy New Age cast. Spiral Revelation stands out as a true, mind-tripping, trance inducing album. Roach has been recording since the early 1980s, he’s approaching 200 releases, and he’s one of the first names mentioned in certain areas of electronic music. But he’s never been nominated for a Grammy award. But this year, through some quirk of coincidence, talent, artistry and persistence, he’s broken in with Spiral Revelation, a quintessential example of Roach’s sequencer driven oeuvre.Downloadable Spiral poster
Download a free 11×17 poster at http://www.projekt.com/Posters/PRO336-Poster.jpg . Print it on your color printer, or at a local printshop. And please email a photo of the poster at work, at home, etc, and we’ll post your photos on Steve’s Facebook Page.
Sam writes: On Tuesday November 28th, I’m donating my profits at Bandcamp to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation’s ARISE practitioners, working to heal the wounds of social inequity and discrimination. Plus you get 25% off your order! Details below.Anger Work is Peace Work
CONTINUE THE LEGACY OF THAY AND DR. KING THIS GIVING TUESDAY
Be part of the #GivingTuesday initiative to raise funds to help mindfulness heal the wounds of discrimination and social inequity within ourselves and our society. ARISE (Awakening through Race, Intersectionality, and Social Equity) is a group of mindfulness practitioners and monastics in the Plum Village tradition who have come together with the aspiration to use the energy of compassion, understanding, and love to do this important work.
Read more, watch the video, contribute directly at the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation (if you would like to give direct at the source).How to get your 25% discount
All day today, Tuesday November 28th, take 25% off at the Projekt and Black Tape For A Blue Girl Bandcamp pages. I will donate Projekt’s profits (after Bandcamp fee + artist royalties) to ARISE. To get 25% off, use code hanh when checking out at the Projekt Bandcamp page and the Black tape for a blue girl Bandcamp page.This works!
In August, your purchases (through a similar donation/discount) raised $232.03 for the Transgender Law Center. It would be lovely if I can donate even more this time.Final Results
$87.87 was raised for ARISE by way of your purchases at Bandcamp, so I rounded up and donated $150. Thanks to everyone. You can donate directly
It’s been a busy year for Projekt…. 2017 releases: AURELIO VOLTAIRE – Heart-Shaped Wound digiCD JEFFREY KOEPPER – Transmitter [limited] digiCD ROBERT LOGAN – Sculptor Galaxy [limited] digiCD MARK SEELIG+SAM ROSENTHAL – Journey to Aktehi [limited] digiCD + cassette LYCIA – Ionia [limited] digiCD + shirt + tote ERIK WØLLO – Cinematic digiCD STEVE ROACH – Long Thoughts digiCD + cassette FALLING YOU – Shine [limited] digiCD JEFFREY KOEPPER – MantraSequent [limited] digiCD ERIK WØLLO – Different Spaces digi2CD LORENZO MONTANA – Phase IX [limited] digiCD FOREST FANG – Following the Ether Sun [limited] digiCD STEVE ROACH – Spiral Revelation digiCD BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL – These Fleeting Moments [limited] 2LP
order them all: http://www.projekt.com/
For several months before actually committing the title track “Structures from Silence” to tape, I would live with the music throughout my daily activities. Often I would sleep and wake with the music playing (since it is stored in the computer memory, it can play indefinitely). This gave me the opportunity to fine tune the piece to a very sublime level. At the time I did not listen to any other music. I also spent much time in silence, a beautiful place. Feeling the music move through that space was vital in its development . . . For me the essence of this music is what is felt when it ends, a returning to the silence. Steve Roach, 1984The return to vinyl
Thirty-three years after its release, Structures From Silence returns to its vinyl origins. Steve Roach talks with Ambient Music Guide’s Mike G about the sublimely meditative album’s creation and reflects on this bona fide ambient classic.
With his distinctive mélange of analog and digital synthesizers, acoustic instrumentation and imaginative soundscapes, American composer Steve Roach is a giant in modern ambient music and one of the most respected electronic musicians in the world. Active since the late 1970s, Roach has an enormous discography of solo albums, collaborations and compilations; his range of styles and influence is vast.
1984’s Structures From Silence marked a move away from the sequencer-driven, kinetic Berlin-school trance of his earliest releases toward an album-length foray into beatless ambience. There are just three pieces – all extraordinarily delicate. The slow-motion melodic strains of the 30-minute title track, in particular, breathe with exquisite gentleness.
Roach’s music is part of a wider progressive, electronic-ambient movement that rose concurrently with the new age scene on America’s West Coast during the 1970s and 80s. Initially the pathway to the audience was neither through an artist nor a record label, but a radio show: Music From The Hearts Of Space. This groundbreaking public radio program was founded in 1973 in San Francisco by sound designer, producer and former architect Stephen Hill and the late Anna Turner. In 1983 it went national and is still on the air today. Although it was not the only radio show of its type, its influence and importance cannot be overstated – both its role in the development of American-based electronic artists and the part it played in bringing ambient styles to a wider audience.
By the 1980s this California-based scene was rich with adventurous musicians giving birth to an extraordinary new direction in music. It was within this creative ferment that Structures From Silence was birthed. Roach says, “That time was exciting. All that mattered to me was living inside this soundworld I was discovering and wanting to share with those who were open to it. I was creating from a purely instinctual place; I had no concern of genres or boundaries.”
Structures-era Timeroom Photos by Thomas RonkinOn the air
Radio was the medium of the day and was crucial to the album’s initial success in America. Structures was originally a self-released cassette when it caught Stephen Hill’s attention. He heard the album through his friendship with Michael Stearns and Kevin Braheny, two accomplished West Coast ambient composers who were living near Roach in L.A. at the time and helped him with mastering and spatial enhancements on the album.
“I remember right after it was released in 1984,” Roach says. “Stephen came to my tiny bungalow in L.A. near the MGM film studios – to see what this guy was all about. Those little gingerbread-looking houses were originally built in the 1940s for the workers at MGM a few blocks away. There was a vibrant beehive feeling all around with fellow visual artists, film and music people. My early albums from Now to Empetus were all created in that Timeroom (Roach’s official name for his studio) or perhaps better described as the Timewomb.”
Hill describes the meeting, “I vividly remember visiting him in that bungalow in Culver City, where he was living a monk-like existence. It was a stucco motel-looking place. The main room had been turned into an early Timeroom, with all his equipment set up and purring out fat analog waveforms 24/7. I don’t recall seeing a bed – he was probably sleeping in the studio – but there were two folding wooden chairs so I sat down and he offered me a glass of water. We had everything in common artistically, and we talked for hours.”
Roach laughs on hearing this, “Well if I slept, it was standing up or sitting at the Oberheim. Pretty much the same as now.”
From that encounter, big things grew. “The music was perfect for Hearts of Space,” says Hill, “and we used it on the national radio program immediately. The track ‘Quiet Friend’ became a kind of closing theme song for a while. This was before we started HOS Records, so I recommended he contact Ethan Edgecombe of Fortuna distribution who was building his own label. Ethan put it out right away on vinyl and cassette. That release on Fortuna helped Steve establish himself as an electronic artist to pay attention to. His raw talent and awesome work ethic did the rest.”#10 best album of the 80s! “Steve Roach’s Structures From Silence remains one of the most important ambient albums ever crafted… its enduring influence has been unmistakably visible in the three decades since its release. It has never been more relevant.”
– FACT MagazineBreathing the deep
The pieces on Structures From Silence evolved outside of the direct influence of the 1980s time zone in which it was created.
“My life at that time was purely focussed on drawing out an inner voice that had been building over many years: a feeling born from my immersion in the quiet spaces of the desert environment. My connection to the profound atmosphere of the desert areas of Southern California – Joshua Tree, Anza-Borrego, Death Valley, the Mojave Desert – was essential. I finally had my hands on the tools with which I could channel this feeling, this expansive atmosphere and blooming inner awareness. I was uncovering and discovering a palpable sense of stillness emanating from a soundcurrent of ‘silence.’”
One of the album’s extraordinary qualities is the sense of natural breath in the music, an organic quality not easily realized with synthesizers. These diaphanous chords and suspended harmonics would become the DNA of Roach’s music as he sought to release his machines from their mechanical moorings.
He explains, “I wasn’t hearing this quality in electronic music at that time. With an acoustic instrument you have to be 100% there to make a sound. Traditional instruments draw from the physical body’s interaction. With synthesizers emerging in the 80s, it was clear that you could almost stop breathing, lose the body connection, sit disconnected in a chair, and still manage to make sounds. This realization was a big piece of my entire waking and sleeping focus. I worked to deepen and nourish the connection to the essence of sound, body, mind and breath awareness when creating with synths. This was directly translated into Structures From Silence – conscious breathing, the sigh and the expansion of this place in-between. Creating from within this present moment, and playing that state through the analog warmth of the Oberheim OB8 was a sacrament of sound. The intention was direct and pure.”
The Oberheim OB8 synthesizer – the source of the resonate voice of the title track – had recently been designed and built in nearby Santa Monica, California. The new synth could play up to eight notes at once, making it the gold standard for polyphonic analog synths in the early 1980s. By his own admission Roach became utterly obsessed with owning one. Priced well beyond what the young sonic aspirant could afford from the wages of working at a local record store, he eventually secured the instrument with a very high interest loan. This consequential move would prove to have a long lasting impact in his life’s work.
The OB8 remains in regular use in his studio today. “You can buy a software version of this instrument now, but it’s like comparing a Formica-countertop laminate and a rich exotic wood. You can’t match the original in terms of texture, warmth and emotional impact, not to mention the fact that it’s a beautiful hardware instrument I feel drawn to today, in the same way as in 1983.”“Structures From Silence is like riding the perfect wave in slow motion… as if sculpting liquid, Roach carefully shapes his sounds into a stately crescendo for an eternal dawn.”
– John Diliberto, Echoes RadioThe listeners speak
Structures From Silence is the album that brought Roach’s work to a global audience of listeners, radio broadcasters, fellow composers, music fans and deep listeners alike. The album has been praised over the years by magazines, fanzines, therapists, Yoga practitioners, and medical MDs; it continues to appear in best of polls, often topping current lists of all-time ambient albums. It struck a chord with a diverse cross-cultural audience from varied backgrounds. The epiphanies of Roach’s formative years of inspiration drawn from the desert and nature’s dreamtime found its way indelibly into his work and his unique personal voice. The stories continue to come in from around the world on how the album breathes life with original and new listeners.
In 2014 the Quiet Friends tribute was released with sixteen electronic artists creating Structures-inspired pieces in honor of the album and timed to the remastered 30th Anniversary 3-CD re-issue.Top-40 Best Ambient Albums of All Time “Contemplative bliss, full of purring drones and high notes that shimmer and fade. Like a desert mirage, these structures hover forever at the horizon, an oasis from the din surrounding it.”
– Pitchfork.comThen and now
When asked how he sees the album today in 2017, Roach reflects, “It’s like looking at a picture of home from years past – one of comfort and peace, warmth and safety. The emotional and personal resonance of the pieces remains connected to my core and part of an uninterrupted continuum from that point to now.”
This limited vinyl edition has been remastered at high-definition 24bit – 96kHz and sourced from the master analog reel-to-reel tapes, highlighting all the subtle detail and harmonic content always present in the studio recording but not fully realized in the original vinyl release.
As Echoes radio producer John Diliberto says, “I think the more important aspect is not when I first heard it, but how resonant and undated it sounds 33 years later.”
Whether you were there in the 80s or discovered the album later, Structures From Silence continues to resonate – across time, cultures, and musical genres. In creating the album, Roach infused the music with yearning emotions and a powerful sense of stillness. Like timeless art from any genre, a rarified expression of humanity is present in this work. That, perhaps, is the key to the enduring appeal of Structures From Silence.