Steve Roach: Dreamtime Return (2018 High Definition Remaster) (2CD)


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Product Description

Disc1: 1. Towards The Dream 07:09
2. The Continent 04:49
3. Songline 03:10
4. Airtribe Meets The Dream Ghost 07:00
5. A Circular Ceremony 11:21
6. The Other Side 13:16
7. Magnificent Gallery 06:12
8. Truth In Passing 08:44
9. Australian Dawn – The Quiet Earth Cries Inside 06:17
10. Looking For Safety 31:21
11. Through a Strong Eye 06:50
12. The Ancient Day 06:05
13. Red Twilight With The Old Ones 09:53
14. The Return 08:35

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The Return of a Masterpiece
2018 High Definition Remaster

Since its release in 1988, Dreamtime Return earned its reputation as a genuine classic. The 2CD magnum opus is one of the most important, widely known and highly respected release in Roach’s vast body of work. It serves as an essential benchmark within the electronic-ethno-atmospheric genre.

Roach’s travels in the Australian outback, along with studies of the Aboriginal Dreamtime, and his desert walkabouts in California were the lifeblood for this recording which even today sounds like a transmission from the near future and the very distant past.

“Musically Dreamtime Return richly deserves its classic status, but Roach also deserves credit for leading electronic musicians out of their sheltered studios and into an active relationship with the landscape, the wider world, and deep cultural history. The whole genre is stronger and more relevant for his example.” – Stephen Hill, Hearts of Space Radio

Three decades after its release, the true expansive depth of this iconic masterpiece has been meticulously unveiled, revealing an entirely new listening experience. With this 30th Anniversary remastered edition, mastering engineer Howard Givens utilizes his years of technical knowledge with electronic music, an extensive array of analog and digital tools, and his passion for this seminal work, to restore the original sonic nature and visionary intention, taking the listener deeper into the dreamtime.

“Steve Roach demonstrates that electronic music’s greatest potential may lie in bringing our most elusive dreams and ancient memories into focus through potent, highly imaginative soundscapes. In addition to the atmospheric harmonies and rhythms that literally engulf you for two hours the 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 unknown. The effect is mesmerizing, increasingly introspective, yet curiously comforting as if the primitive wisdom and renewed connection to nature this music conveys is something you were craving all along. This is without question Steve Roach’s masterpiece.” – Linda Kohanov, (excerpt from) CD Review, August 1989

“Surrounding every masterpiece there is an arcane and indecipherable energy, a divine breath that blows. Works like Dreamtime Return change the course of history and accomplish a prodigious jump forward. It is a recording that has inspired a whole generation of musicians and that contains within its two hours astounding artistic intuitions, the starting point for all of the esoteric and tribal music that is produced today. The drones of the didgeridoo, the ceremonial drums, the alien ambiences, the voices from the past, the eternal silences, the tribal atmospheres, the dilation of time, and the sculpture of space have created the tribal-ambient genre, of which Roach was the first techno-shaman. The record can be considered a soundtrack for an adventure at the edge of time, an experience that has deeply and indelibly marked Roach, whose life from that moment will no longer be the same. The channel is open.” – Gianluigi Gasparetti, Deep Listenings, August 2005

Selling Points

• Steve Roach received a Grammy nomination for 2017’s Spiral Revelation
• Completely remastered for this 30th anniversary release
• 16-page booklet with photos, liner notes, and credits
Dreamtime Return included in Tom Moon’s 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die
• Over 100,000 copies sold


Steve Roach voted the #1 and #2 albums in Echoes Radio’s 2014 listener poll! Steve was also named the #1 Icon of Echoes!


Dreamtime Return is more than a seminal recording that has influenced a generation of musicians. It’s a portal into a universe where technological designs merge deep inside primordial moods. Roach found the nexus of primal didgeridoo growls and synthesizer drones and orchestrated them into this techno-tribal opus. When you shout out at the edge of the world, Dreamtime Return is echo that calls back to you.” – John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Original release: 1988
PRO175 • Projekt first Remaster re-release street date: August 23, 2005
PRO350 • (this) 30th Anniversary Remastered Edition Digipak. March 2018

Additional information

Weight .4 lbs


Release Year



2-CD in 6-panel DIgipak, with 16-page booklet


  1. padmin

    From Ambient Music Guide

    Best Albums of 2018
    The 30th Anniversary edition of Steve Roach’s opus Dreamtime Return is the welcome return of an old friend. If you’ve never heard his environmental ambient masterpiece, you’re about to fill a sizeable gap in your education.

    This signature album from America’s 80’s and 90’s West Coast ambient scene remains vital, primal and poetic. It’s often claimed to be one of the first and most influential tribal ambient albums – which it is – yet it’s more melodic and varied than many albums in that subgenre, and also has many long beatless passages. Random thoughts: I’d forgotten the lovely “Truth In Passing” had piano; guest Kevin Braheny’s cello-like phrases on “The Other Side” are heartbreaking; and though there is some Aboriginal instrumentation and vocals, even without them the music evokes Australia’s natural spaces with fantastic clarity.

  2. Reviews Editor

    From Exclaim

    In the 1980s, L.A.-based ambient music craftsman Steve Roach was in his 20s and an acolyte of the Berlin School of electronic music, such as Tangerine Dream. His sound has taken on many forms in the decades since, but it was in 1988 that he began to look beyond his influences for new sources of inspiration. Following a series of extended visits to the Australian outback, Roach released what has been described as his masterpiece, Dreamtime Return, an album that has now been remastered and reissued for its 30th anniversary.

    Roach’s music pairs dense synth pads, sleek leads and electronic drums with the didgeridoo, the dumbek and field recordings of Aboriginal singers. The synthesist seeks to step outside of time and space, succumbing to the borrowed conceptual framework as well as the vast, desert-like expanse of the outback. Roach’s sonic journey is decidedly inward, as much as it is immense; a master of his craft, it’s his keen ear that keeps the conceptual trappings from overtaking the beauty of his soundscapes.

    The music of Dreamtime Return is some of the most evocative to have hailed from the American ambient scene and is certainly the highlight of Roach’s gargantuan catalogue. Thirty years later, in a period of intense rediscovery of barely remembered classic albums, it’s fitting that this iconic gem has been uncovered. -Byron Hayes

  3. Reviews Editor

    From Stranded

    California ambient pioneer Steve Roach released Dreamtime Return, arguably his finest album, in 1988 following extensive travels to the Australian outback. The word “dreamtime” refers to the Australian Aboriginal belief system, specifically to their notion of the distant past and its inhabitants. Though now considered a dated and anthropologically inaccurate term based on the faulty interpretation of an Aboriginal concept, in the ’80s it was widely used in popular culture especially within the nascent new age movement. Roach’s goal, to which the title alludes, was to evoke the sensation of the mythologized ancestral landscape while looking to the potentialities of the future, a quintessentially new age sentiment.

    As a means to that end Roach incorporates ancient instruments such as the didgeridoo, gourd drums and dumbek into his electronics, and the effect is seamless. Oftentimes this approach of incorporating acoustic instruments into the electronic ambient/new age realm feels clunky at best, but the drums and wind instruments are recorded and produced in such a way that they fit perfectly in place with Roach’s glassy synth work. Featuring assistance from notable contemporaries like Kevin Braheny and Robert Rich, Dreamtime Return sounds simultaneously like a return to his Berlin school origins as well as a look to the future of the ’90s ambient and electronic scene, and it’s clear that his work here was hugely influential on the dark ambient scene that was set to explode across Europe.

    With songs ranging from the ambient bliss of his earlier classic Structures From Silence all the way to tracks that, in the right light and heightened mind state, could conceivably fill a dance floor, Dreamtime Return is Roach’s most diverse and exploratory album. A welcome reissue of a truly essential piece that connects the legacy of peak era ’80s Hearts of Space new age and the fourth world movement with a sound that presages the oncoming convergence of ambient and techno.

  4. Reviews Editor

    From Ambient Music Guide

    What’s That You’re Playing March 2018
    The welcome return of an old friend, one of the signature albums of America’s West Coast ambient scene. It’s vital, primal, poetic and beautiful. Dreamtime Return is often claimed to be one of the first and most influential tribal ambient albums. Which it is, but it’s also more tonal and genuinely varied than much in that subgenre, and also has many long beatless passages. Random thoughts: I’d forgotten the lovely “Truth In Passing” had piano; guest Kevin Braheny’s cello-like phrases on “The Other Side” are heartbreaking; and though there is some Aboriginal instumentation and vocals, the music also evokes Australia’s spaces beautifully on the tracks that don’t feature them. -Mike G

  5. Reviews Editor

    Click image (to left) to see full review.
    From AV Club
    “…slowly shifting synthesizer tones that should appeal to anyone who likes Brian Eno’s more world music-inspired ambient works or a sort of Blade Runner-esque, pan-Asian soundscape… I’ve been listening to it—all two hours of it—during every single workday. Give it a try.” – Sean O’Neal

  6. Reviews Editor

    From Optimistic Underground

    32 Best Ambient Music Albums Ever Made

    This is a massive, two hour ambient epic set to the Aboriginal concept of dreamtime, a layer of existence that stands outside of time itself. Its songs range from three to thirty minutes, with every variation between conjuring different levels of depth and space. As a cohesive whole, the album folds in both electronic and natural sounds, from didgeridoos to huge synth pads to field recordings from the Australian outback. Like Stars of the Lid, Steve Roach approaches the genre with spartan ideals, stripping the music down to its central essence and then amplifying that elemental spark into a massive conflagration. Dreamtime Return is a lot to take in one sitting, but it’s beyond essential. -David James

  7. Reviews Editor

    From Tokafi

    Hindsight is a beautiful thing. Now, almost twenty years after Dreamtime Return was first published, reviewers have found an easy subject in how mistaken some of their colleagues had been by filing the classic double album with all the other electronic releases of its era. It is a phenomenon shared with that other long-undiscovered seminal work of the 80s, Manuel Göttsching’s E2-E4, which hardly anyone even bothered to write about at the time and today feels equally at home in classical concert halls and techno clubs. Both share the fate of making their entrance slightly too early, of standing outside of musicological discussions and of having to build their own audience over years. And both have triumphed in the end: If noone is able to understand the initial negligence of the world, then that is because it has changed through the appreciation of these compositions.

    Having said that, and despite the quite sizable amount of advocates the album did manage to gather around it right from the start, it is not that hard to discern why the critics were confused. Dreamtime Return led the combination of electronic and mechanical instruments to an accessible plateau. It anticipated the symbiosis between progressive, experimental expressions and tribal elements. It used a highly contemporary form of sampling, indulged in the sequencer runs and digital drum derilations of the „Berlin School“ while taking them to new, concise horizon. And finally, it bathed in sweet oceans of harmonies, undulated asthmatically through haunting greyzones and created new templates for future generations of musicians while trying on the most diverse arrangements.

    All of this came in the form of a two hour long concept work, based around a view of the world, which seemed to openly contradict the Western model and stemmed from a culture hundreds of thousands of years old and with an intuitive knowledge in danger of being lost. With the deadlines of the press looming and never enough time to get behind the real meaning of a work, the deeper message was probably never easy to formulate.

    As with all classics, there are plenty of stories to Dreamtime Return and the most important one is how its creative process, which had already started in 1985, was suddenly sped up when director David Stahl was driving through the desert to Mexico. As the heat was building up, Stahl was meditating on his current project, a movie on the Aboriginal concept of the „Dream Time“. It was during this drive that the radio program changed from middle of the road rock to a most uncommon soundscape, the warm and deep stream that was Steve Roach’s Structures from Silence. Stahl decided to call him immediately, bringing Roach in contact with a continent which he had long felt a „compellable connection“ with.

    The duo arrived in Australia only months later to „endless plateaus, gorges and sandstone escarpments which conceal the sacred and secular sites of times past“ (Roach), documenting their experiences on film („Art of the Dreamtime“) and in music. Roach would later build tracks around Aboriginal chant and invite Robert Rich and other percussionists and instrumentalists into the studio for improvisations and a decided, yet otherworldly rhythmic flow, but the finished record still bares a lot of the spontaneous sensation of being overwhelmed by the land and its people.

    So much has been written about the music and yet they still carve out intense associations: The astral voyage of the brooding sequencer flight „Towards the Dream“, the gourd drum polybeats and didgeridoo pulses of „Songline“, the melancholic echoes of „Truth in Passing“, the vastitude of „Looking for Safety“, which sounds as though Steve Roach were keeping his ear to the ground for thirty minutes in search of the earth’s voice. Dreamtime Return is a continent itself, full of uncharted territory and filled with places at first alien and longing to be discovered. Just like changing sceneries are considered organic in the world surrounding us, they are no contradictions in this musical cosmos. And even if they were, all polarities melt in the engulfing drones of the closing embrace of „The Return“.

    What strangely enough has not yet been mentioned is why the album is just as potent today as it was almost twenty years from now: To me , the explanation is simply: It seems to come from the same spiritual cycle it set out to discover. It is a work of expectation, of anticipation, of hope and of imagination, born in a place where symbols have universal meaning and where seconds are hours and hours are days. It was born in dreamtime itself. -Tobias Fischer

  8. Reviews Editor

    From Gothtronic

    We write 1988, Steve Roach just released Dreamtime Return and wrote with this album a whole new chapter in the history of electronic music. Practically in the history of ambient as Dreamtime Return is considered as the first real ambient record. Besides that it was the first real recording in which western music was mixed with aboriginal instruments as the dingeredoo. A culture totally unknown to the western audiences at that time. With these instrument the first steps into ambient where taken and Steve Roach gave his musical carrier a new turn.

    Twenty years after the first release of Dreamtime Return the label Project comes with a re-issue of the album which was long sold out and hard to find for collectors. The original album went through a tiny re-mastering and they have given the cover a different (more suitable) colour, but it’s still the same album first released twenty years ago. Steve Roach is a name I’ve heard before, next to him stand people like Klaus Schulze and other masters of the electronic music. Although I’ve never bought or heard an album by his hand.

    And now Dreamtime Return is playing in my cd-player. The first thing I noticed was the timelessness of Roach’s ambient. The first time I heard the album, even before I was searching the internet for information about the album, I’ve thought it was a brand new piece. Maybe the digeredoo’s were a bit simple, but the whole album breathed the dreamlike ambience which ambient is know for. I even dare to say it has everything an ambient-artist searches for all these years. You float away on dreams, feel the electronic atmospheres summoned and drift off in a period of peace and serenity. These thoughts were mine before I’ve found out this was a re-release of an album first released in 1988. now my interest for Steve Roach is complete awakened. There aren’t a lot of artist whose work still stand strong next to present day artists twenty years after the first release. Dreamtime Return is and will be the holy grail of ambient. Rating: 7.6 -Godpipo

  9. Reviews Editor

    From Exposé

    The myths and legends of the Australian Aborigines provided the inspiration for this expansive opus that is generally touted as Roach’s first masterpiece. Here it is presented again in 24-bit remaster. If you’ve long wondered about discovering his music but never knew where to start, this is the place – not because it’s the best (although I wouldn’t argue with anyone who claims it is), but because it’s exemplary of much of what would come after – a signpost if you will that points to a number of paths that Roach would ultimately explore in his later work and right up to the present day. The sequenced piece that opens disc one is more in line with his earlier work, calling to mind elements of the Berlin electronic school. From that point the disc moves on to more explorative visions that involve floating ambient soundscapes, mysterious looping synth creations, and all types of ethnic percussion, mixed in varying degrees, often augmented by sampled sounds, electronic woodwinds, violin, and didgeridu. Moods change and shift freely throughout, from more aggressive trance workouts to quietly introspective pieces to evolutionary deep space explorations, all within the general scope of a singular guiding concept. The focus throughout is on the moment, that very instant that unfolds in the present, reaching for the elusive boundaries of imagination.

    Disk two begins with the half hour “Looking For Safety”, a sublime and haunting ambient drift piece with a rich, looping melodic figure that reappears intermittently in various forms throughout its duration; in turn it is followed by another similarly styled dream sequence punctuated with dense, mysterious cloudlike structures. The highlight of the second disc is “Red Twilight With The Old Ones”, a cyclical evolution of tension and release, where field recordings of aboriginal songmen are integrated into the fabric of the piece. In all, the two discs present a broad cinematic continuum that moves freely through portals of perception, each presenting its own explorative vision of the overriding concept of dreamtime. This two disc set is available by itself, and also in a deluxe “Dreamtime Box” edition which includes two discs of new material recorded in the same spirit as the original set: Possible Planet and New Life Dreaming (both are reviewed in this issues’ New Releases section). Either way, this set comes highly recommended. –Peter Thelen

  10. Reviews Editor

    From Electroambient Space

    Long established as a classic, 1988’s Dreamtime Return is now lovingly reissued with careful 24-bit remastering by Steve Roach, and an expanded booklet with previously unseen photos from around the time of the original recording. It looks and sounds excellent. “Towards the Dream” remains one of my favorite compositions by Steve ever, and it makes a great beginning. So familiar now, back then it was a revolutionary blending of Berlin school sequencing with Roach’s now famous primitive elements. His surreal fusion of music of the future and of the past virtually single-handedly invented the tribal ambient genre, or at the very least brought it to the forefront of the music scene.
    Dreamtime Return also showed Steve’s continuing strength in developing long-form works, as he had previously done on Quiet Music and Structures From Silence. The 31-minute “Looking For Safety” is a beautifully subtle spacious piece that melts into the background of whatever you find yourself doing while you listen. “Through the Strong Eye” is full of deep sounds that echo into infinity, a hint of what would come several years later on The Magnificent Void. And then there’s the wonderful ending, “The Return,” which I now associate with the softly rolling waves at the end of Steve’s Day Out Of Time video. The use of silence is as effective as the sounds. It is the stuff of dreams, as much today as it was 17 years ago. -Phil Derby

  11. Reviews Editor

    From Deep Listening

    Surrounding every masterpiece there is an arcane and indecipherable energy, a divine breath that blows. Works like Dreamtime Return change the course of history and accomplish a prodigious jump forward. It is a recording that has inspired a whole generation of musicians and that contains within its two hours astounding artistic intuitions, the starting point for all of the esoteric and tribal music that is produced today. The drones of the didgeridoo, the ceremonial drums, the alien ambiences, the voices from the past, the eternal silences, the tribal atmospheres, the dilation of time, and the sculpture of space have created the tribal-ambient genre, of which Roach was the first techno-shaman. The record can be considered a soundtrack for an adventure at the edge of time, an experience that has deeply and indelibly marked Roach, whose life from that moment will no longer be the same. The channel is open.

  12. Reviews Editor

    From 1,000 Recording to Hear Before You Die

    Steve Roach’s 1988 double-disc, inspired by visits to the Australian outback and the Aboriginal concept of “dreamtime,” has been hyped as one of the pivotal works of ambient music. You may wonder why: It begins with the generic whooshing you’d expect from a NASA training film, and as it evolves acquires similar sounds typically used by film scorers to connote open planetary vistas. That’s ambient music for you: To some, one minute its sweeping sounds evoke a great metaphysical vastness, to others that same material can seem a tired cliché.

    Stick with Dreamtime Return, because after its garish opening segment, the music travels less expected pathways, with slow-moving textures luring listeners into evocations of tribal ritual. In Aboriginal mythology, “dreamtime” refers to a state of being in which the past, present, and future are experienced simultaneously. Dreamtime Return‘s tales address the earth’s origin, and the role of humans in it (the Aboriginal people believe every human event leaves a “record” in the land).

    Inspired by these stories, Roach used a combination of synthesizers and ancient instruments, most notably the dumbek drum and the didgeridoo (that two-toned wind instrument native to Australia, played here by David Hudson), to create shape-shifting, constantly evolving atmospheres. Dreamtime Return is among a handful of pioneering works of what’s sometimes called “Ethno-Ambient,” though its rhythms are more aggressive than most music carrying that label. Moving from solemn, ceremonial beats to unmoored, tempoless explorations, Roach scatters tones and colors into brilliant arrays, and evolves them, ever so slowly, into a majestic long-distance journey. It may only be a simulation of dreamtime, but it’s dazzlingly hypnotic all the same.

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