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Steve Roach: Structures From Silence (30th Anniversary Remastered Edition)
Steve Roach had the listener-voted the #1 and #2 albums in Echoes Radio’s 2014 listener poll! Steve was also named the #1 Icon of Echoes!.
Structures From Silence‘s breathing, suspended embrace of atmospheres and serene melodies instantly struck a chord with listeners in 1984; the album continues to reiterate its timeless resonations with new listeners today.
In 1983, as Steve Roach began work on his third album, the dedication to finding his voice as a composer and artist was coming into full bloom. On this landmark recording of gentle proportions, he emerged with a sound completely outside of the 80s era in which it was created. The three long-form tracks on Structures From Silence were the birth of something new; it was an original and pure statement, a dramatic departure from his earlier works in the German-influenced electronic space music genre. Striking a balance between diaphanous and gentle, deep and reflective, the listening experience evoked a sense of silence within the music as well as the space between the chords. It expresses the breath of life and offers a meditation on delicate strands of subtle awareness.
During its creation, Steve let the music take form in moments of focused stillness within the studio. At the time of the recording, Steve wrote, “I spent much time in silence, a beautiful place. Feeling the sound move through that space was vital in its development… For me the essence of the music is what is felt when it ends, a returning to the silence.”
“…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.” May 2017, Pitchfork’s Top-40 Best Ambient Albums of All Time
“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 Radio.
“Top Ten All Time releases for Yoga.” – Yoga Journal Magazine
“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.” – FACTmag
Thirty years later, Structures From Silence remains an iconic American release in the ambient and electronic genres. It’s a well-respected soundtrack for contemplation, relaxation, meditation, and focused creativity. The album continues to appear at the top of charts and is mentioned as one of the best releases in the genre; even more importantly, it is a meaningful touchstone for thousands upon thousands of listeners who have lived many years within its nurturing embrace. The album has endured, growing more potent over time, especially in the accelerated pace of today’s life. Emotional, powerful, and enriching, it is a living example of the true healing quality that music can hold.
For Structures’ 30th anniversary, Steve went back to the original analog mixes for a 24/96k remaster that reveals luscious quality and subtle tonal detail not heard since the 1984 master. “With today’s evolution of audiophile analog mastering tools,” Steve says, “we were able to reveal the original beauty, detail and essence-of-tone captured on the 30 ips analog master which has not been heard like this until now.”
“Since its release, many listeners have praised the album’s therapeutic and meditative qualities, but Structures From Silence remains foremost a work of the heart, with tracks like ‘Quiet Friend’ forever evoking an aura of melancholic solitude. Whatever Brian Eno may have set in motion with his landmark Ambient series, Roach took a step further by creating something with a resounding sense of humanity and emotion.” –Mark Burby, Alternative Press
“Heralded by many as one of the finest ambient works of all time, Steve Roach’s Structures From Silence is right up there with Brian Eno’s Music for Airports, and deservedly so. Originally released in 1984, Structures was deemed a classic almost immediately.” – All Music Guide, Matt Borghi
29 Essential Ambient Albums To Own On Vinyl
“Steve Roach is nothing short of a musical genius, and one of the best ambient maestros of all time and Structures From Silence might just be one of the best ambient albums ever made. Released in 1984 on Fortuna, this three-track collection of slow-moving, subtle, airy clouds of synth, is a truly emotional, powerful ambient masterpiece.” – Medium, Miguel Ferreira
With the 1-CD remastered edition and the 3-CD deluxe remastered edition (both presented with the original cover art), Projekt gives listeners the chance to discover and rediscover this timeless album. With a beautiful new audio transfer that perfectly reveals the silence within, this release sets the tone for the next 30 years of silence.
1-CD, 3-CD, Cassette, LP, 1-CD + LP, 3-CD + LP
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From TimeOut Dubai
Ten chill-out albums perfect for soothing your soul during lockdown. Put your headphones on and drift away.
Reviews Editor –
Given the fondness for analog synthesizers so prevalent among today’s electronic music producers, you would think that re-releases like this one would garner more excitement. Steve Roach’s 1984 LP Structures From Silence was a huge success in its day, but like so much else that came out during that Orwellian period, it sounds very much like a 30-plus-year-old recording.
Whether it’s our rapidly decreasing attention spans or simply the plethora of new toys available to composers, the direction electronic music has taken in the last decade has left Roach and his contemporaries behind. In a 140-character universe, Structures From Silence feels very much like a long read.
Which is a shame, because the record is genuinely extraordinary. Before the new age mania of the late 1980s, Roach, Brian Eno and others were making music for meditation (formal or otherwise). It was a radical departure from the commercialism of pop and the formality of classical music. Armed with the day’s cutting-edge tech, those ambient music pioneers kick-started an approach to composition that we’re still working through three decades on.
Structures From Silence features three tracks, all updated from the original analog mixes. “Reflections in Suspension,” a study in synth washes, is effective, but not overly memorable, while “Quiet Friend” a straightforward minimalist piece, manages to capture a warmth that few synthesizer recordings from that time came close to. It’s beautiful, like a late summer morning.
Side two of the album features the 29-minute title track. While clearly the most dated-sounding piece, it clearly qualifies as a major work from the period. Collectors — and DJs looking to create a Blade Runner vibe — will love it. -Kevin Press
Reviews Editor –
To my mind, Structures from Silence ranks highly in the list of ambient works that could be considered canonical. A defining work both in Roach’s career and in the genre itself, this timeless 1984 release has inspired countless electronic musicians–including, in retrospect, Steve Roach. That, aside from the improvements in sound quality the remastering offers, may be reason enough to get ahold of this 30th Anniversary re-release: to hear how the music continues to inspire the artist. Along with the three original long-form pieces, which are as beautiful and meditative as ever, there are two new releases inspired by their “soul tone,” and which emerge as very worth successors. “Suspension” and “Reflection” maintain the hallmark lightness of the original. The first eases its way slowly through on warm clouds of sound, so familiar that if you’re listening from one disc to the next, the flow is perfectly unbroken. The second glimmers appropriately, like sun on water, and passes through various moments of light and shadow without losing that sense. Roach plays with high tones here that sometimes border on sharp without going too far. “Beyond” and “Below” explore the flip-side of the Structures… sound-set, tending more toward Roach’s slightly darker musings. While still as soft and immersive as the rest of the release, these pieces eschew the higher tones and let low drones take the forefront. “Below,” particularly, brings the volume and brightness way down, almost to the point of just barely breathing in your ears. As much as I have always loved the feel of Structures, this is more the way I like my Roach–a little moody, decidedly pensive, and wrapped in the right amount of shadow. As for Structures itself, the piece has aged beautifully. I will always find the three-note phrase that makes up the title track a little breathtaking in its simplicity. The rise-and-fall cadence of the pads, with the slightest of pauses between, is as calming as ever. Since its initial release, this album’s resonance has been felt over and over in Roach’s work; it’s inspiring him still on releases like The Delicate Forever. And with good reason. In 1984, Structures from Silence arrived to change things, to point in new directions, and it’s clear that it has never quite left.
Reviews Editor –
The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time – #33
In the early 1970s, inspired by the likes of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, California desert motocross racer Steve Roach wandered away from a career of high-revving engines and taught himself how to play the synthesizer. He’s since become one of the defining American artists of new age music, perpetually on a quest for silence and the suspension of time in his music. “For me, the essence of this music is what is felt when it ends, a returning to the silence,” he wrote on the sleeve of his 1984 masterpiece, Structures From Silence.
The three extended compositions that comprise Structures arise out of such quiescence; the loops and gentle melodic refrains spire upwards and suggest vistas. With just a few cycling elements and floating chords, “Reflections in Suspension” and “Quiet Friend” exude a peaceful calm, while the title track is a half hour of 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. –Andy Beta
Reviews Editor –
Press quotes from 1984:
“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
“Structures From Silence is a superior album of floating, cosmic electronics.” – John Schaefer, Spin Magazine
“Roach’s imagination breathes passion into mechanized sounds, often sterile and unfeeling when produced by less creative hands.” – Vicki Arkoff, Los Angeles Weekly
“Roach adroitly weaves melodic strands from his multiple keyboards to create a multi-layered textural whole.” – Don Snowden, Los Angeles Times
Reviews Editor –
From Comarcas Na Rede
La entrega de los premios Oscar en Los Ángeles ya han pasado y en esta ocasión, dentro del apartado de las bandas sonoras, con un ganador que a la sexta consiguió llevarse el gato al agua, con la banda sonora de la película “Los Odiosos Ocho”, un hombre que ya lo merecía por la banda sonora de la película “La Misión” pero que hasta el momento, sólo contaba con una estatuilla honorífica.
Pero eso ha sido en la meca del cine, ya que en nuestro país, todavía seguimos con la mezcla de colores, que hasta el momento, ha resultado como ganador el blanco, porque seguimos sin presidente, o mejor tenemos que decir el negro, que es el color que a estas alturas del año, alguno estará viendo, pero cómo nosotros este fin de semana, parece que veremos el del sol resplandecer en el cielo, pues vamos con un par de recomendaciones.
Comenzamos con la pianista española Paz del Castillo, un nombre desconocido para muchos, pero que en Europa y América tiene un gran reputación y es una de las pianistas más importantes de la actualidad, por desgracia, algo habitual eso de que nuestros artistas triunfen antes en el extranjero que en su propio país y por otra parte, un incunable, es decir, un trabajo que los aficionados a la música ambient deberían de tener dentro de su colección y para aquellos que no lo tienen, esta reedición es una oportunidad inmejorable para hacerse con él, hablamos del disco Structures From Silence del gran Steve Roach. Dos discos para disfrutar del buen tiempo y cómo no, de la buena música. -Roberto Vales
Reviews Editor –
Review for the 3-CD edition from Musique Machine
Originally released in 1984, Structures From Silence was the third album from US ambient legend Steve Roach. The album is often considered one of Roach’s most influential, respected and celebrated albums; it consists of three lengthy tracks that are built around simplistic interlocking textural synth patterns, which are both soothing, melodic & atmospheric.
This reissue from early on this year is the 30th anniversary reissue which finds the original album getting 4-bit/96k remix from the original analog mixes. Along with two discs of new material that tries to recreate the vibe/feel of the original albums tracks. The release comes in either: a fold out three CD digipak sleeve (similar to the reissue of Roach’s Quiet Music), or as a digital download.
So first off let’s talk about the original album, and then we’ll move onto the new material. The album opens with “Reflections in Suspension”, which comes in at just shy of the seventeen minute mark. The track is built around a mixture of simmering ‘n’ moody synth bass line, and a higher pitched melodic synth line. Both elements remain fairly fixed in their repetitive pattern for the first ten or so minutes, with Roach skillfully building atmosphere & mood with sub-tone sweeps & rises. In the last seven or so mintues Roach subtle slows the patterns down, until by the end of the track we’re left with a just a slowed golden wash of melody. The whole thing sounds bright, airy & pleasing, yet there is a slight hint of more mysterious/emotional edges too. The thing that hits you most about this track is how timeless it sounds; sure you can tell Roach is using 80’s technology, but it doesn’t sound dated or tacky. But instead feels as fresh & enriching as the gentle spring winds, yet never new agey or bland.
Next up we have the just over thirteen mintues of ”Quiet Friend”. This track follows on from the slowed pace of the end of the first track, and is built around a warming yet slightly troubled mix of hovering ‘n’ wavering mid-to-high pitched synth tones. These tones sort of settle around you in a pleasing & soothing manner, like a relaxing sonic haze, yet once again it’s never contrived or new agey. At around the ninth minute more defined synth key patterns appear playing out the track central melody. These new textures have an almost oriental like gentleness to them. Throughout there’s a real feel of emotional & slow melodic grace to the proceedings. This track I guess is a bit more dreamy & relaxing than the first track, but once again it’s a very captivating listening, which seems to pull you in deeper & deeper into its pleasing warmth.
Lastly on the original album we have the title track, and this is longest track of the original album at 28.33 mark. This track is built a mixture of slowly hovering low-end ambient synth texturing, with a higher pitched bright & airy melody line on top. This is the most repetitive & unmoving of all the tracks on this first/original disc, as both elements repeat the same patterns over & over again through the tracks full length. I’ll have to admit on my first few plays through, I wasn’t a fan of the track – it just felt too bright, sweet & buoyant for its own good, lacking the more mysterious/ moody subtleties of the other tracks. But over time I’ve grown to enjoy the track more & more, and really it makes perfect senses after the other tracks…Like you’ve found perfect enlightenment & glowing joy at the end of your sonic journey.
Really it’s easy to see why this original album is so celebrated & praised, as it takes you on such a compelling, warming, and melodic journey…yet it never feels contrived, dated, or bland…it’s just a work of simple ambient beauty.
So let’s move onto the extra/new material for this 30th anniversary reissue, and you get an extremely generous two full length CDs worth of new work. Each of the discs features two tracks a piece, and each of these runs between just under thirty to near on forty mintues a piece. So on disc two firstly we have “Suspension”, and this track comes in at just shy of the twenty nine mintue mark. This track rather brought to mind ”Quiet Friend” from the original album, with its hovering ‘n’ hazed dense flow of ambience. The flowing ‘n’ circling tones mixes lighter/higher harmonic textures, with more moody lows. Structural wise the track remains fairly undefined in its flow, though it does follow a fairly similar ebb ‘n’ flow of tones through-out with the whole thing washing over you in a soothing yet slightly mysterious manner.
Second on disc two we have “Reflection”, and this comes in at just over the thirty minute mark. And this once again this track follows the sort of slow ebbing ‘n’ drift of ambient tones, but this time they seem slight less mysterious & moody, than the first track, having this slow swirling harmonic twinkle to them. As the track progresses the tones seem to slow more & more around you to create this mellow/lush flow of ambience..I’m not sure if the track is in reality slowing, or it’s just a trick of my mind, but which ever it’s another most satisfying track.
On disc three we have another two lengthy tracks, and these come in the form of “Beyond” (running at 32.11), and “Below” (running at 39.47). The first track has a more darker & eerier focus, compared to the other tracks here. It’s built around these two or three nocturnal focused ambient synth textures, which are playing out these similar sounding repetitive darkly harmonic patterns at slightly different speeds. This structure gives the impression of three dimensions, all most as if you could reach into the speakers & feel the slow gloomy patterns unfolding for seemingly ever & ever. To me the track seems to be creating this feeling of something that’s continually climb up & up, in search of light but all there ever seems to be is another layer of eerier nocturnal-ness.
The second track sequences in directly from the first, and to start with it carries on the flowing gloomy ambient patterns of the first track. But fairly soon the nocturnal climbing shifts into slow moving drifts & sweeps of ambient tone. To me this track feels like you’re hearing an hazed & distant recording of lush string work swirling & ebbing on a soothing summer breeze. The textures are nicely blurred yet you can just make out this rich & majestic melody. The darkness of the first track has departed, but there’s still quite a feeling of mystery & moodiness to this track.
All in all this is a most welcome reissue of one of Mr Roach’s most respected, celebrated, and timeless ambient works. Both discs of the new material are worthy & rewarding too. Sure they are not quite up to the caliber of the original album tracks, but each of the four tracks are well conceived & entrancing in their own right. Rating: 4 out of 5 -Roger Batty
Reviews Editor –
#4 on the Best Reissues of 2014 chart!
Done deal, really: our 10th favourite album of the 1980s gets an impressive, careful, ambitious reissue. Recorded in a baking California back in 1983, Structures From Silence is a genuine ambient landmark – a collection of billowing synth figures, rolling like dry ice, with trembling overtones and shimmering harmonics. Aside from being one the best authentically New Age records ever made, it’s proven seriously influential – Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Vol. II wouldn’t, and couldn’t, have happened without it.
Projekt reissued the record 10 years ago, but this version is definitely the complete article: newly remastered, and expanded twice over with new compositions from Roach, recorded over the last few years in the same style. Given how much ink has been sloshed about the 2014 ambient revival, it’s a perfect time to return to this classic album – still spellbinding, three decades on.
Reviews Editor –
From Dazed Digital
I’m not sure exactly when I first came upon Steve Roach, whether it was listening to Echoes on NPR as a teenager or surfing the Wikipedia article for “space music”, but his sounds have been in heavy rotation on my personal playlist for years. Because a lot of his later work is so awash in new-age vibes Steve Roach sometimes gets brushed aside by more ‘serious’ synth-heads, but his pioneering use of digital synthesizers, long form compositional style and production wizardry make him worthy of highbrow consideration. He sculpted a genre of ambient music all his own after early experiments with more arpeggiated, Klaus Shultze-esque kosmische, shifting to a more contemplative, ethereal sound. It’s hard to choose just one Steve Roach track to represent here (there are so many, and they are all so long), but I’ll link to the recently reissued / re-mastered ambient classic Structures from Silence (get it for the title track), the work that first established Roach’s signature style. -John Also Bennett
Reviews Editor –
Review for the 3-CD edition from Other Music
On this 30th anniversary 3-CD edition, ambient guru Steve Roach gives his indispensable masterpiece Structures from Silence the lush, luxurious treatment it fully deserves. The record is a bit of an odd creature in the experimental music canon, as it has been included in both Yoga Journal’s Top Ten of All Time Releases for Yoga and hipster outlet Fact Magazine’s Top Ten of 100 Best Albums of the 1980s. This rare quality to simultaneously appeal to a spiritual, meditative audience and electronic music aficionados is what makes Roach’s achievement stand out amongst his peers.
Structures from Silence graciously circumvents the usual aesthetic pitfalls of its era, even though its delicate, vintage synth tones clearly refer to the times in which it was made. Most importantly, the intricately built structure of its three long, meandering tracks make the record truly unforgettable: each of them start off from silence, followed by repeated motifs and suggestive, cyclic melodies, after which they subdue in silence again. There is a natural flair emanating from its warm, drifting sounds, whose melancholic nature feels utterly genuine. As Roach states in the original liner notes, they emanate from “that expansive place where you breathe out and then you breathe back in.”
The first disc presents a remastered version of the original record, which has never sounded as deep and luscious as it does here, its impressive textural details aiming for full emotional effect. The other two discs contain new material recorded in 2013 following the same compositional principals as the original and are every bit as sophisticated and majestic as the former one. This basically is as essential as it gets — lovers of subtle, slowly moving electronic music: You know what to do! -Niels Van Tomme
Reviews Editor –
Review for 3-CD edition from Yoga Journal
When Steve Roach first released his ambient electronic album Structures From Silence in 1984, the genre was hardly new. Artists like Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream had been at it for a decade or so. But Roach brought a new edge to the style. This new digital remastering of Roach’s landmark album captures all the aural depths, spaciousness, and old-school analog warmth of the original but with enhanced sound quality for a richer listening experience. The 30th anniversary set includes bonus discs of all-new Roach recordings that come from the same timeless, tranquil mood.
Each track arises from silence, coming to full volume like a film slowly coming into focus. From there, listeners waft along a gentle current of majestic bass swells, chimes, and soft-focus clouds of billowing sound. Roach listened to no other music and spent long periods in meditative silence while creating the original album. The Zen-like purity of this compositional process is beautifully reflected in the end result. Like all true ambient music, these discs offer a calm, centered soundtrack for everyday living, not to mention an ideal support for mediation, restorative yoga, energy healing sessions, and other integrative modalities. -Alan Di Perna
Reviews Editor –
Excerpt of article from Echoes
This opportunity came to play at Terminal Island Prison for the inmates the prison. So I setup in what was like a high school gymnasium or a high school auditorium in the Terminal Island Prison, and I had to go through all these layers of security check and with all the gear and inspecting everything. And finally you get in and setup, then in comes a whole completely full auditorium of inmates. I’m playing sequencer kind of material and doing my thing at that time with all the pure analog gear. I had a trajectory to go with and then it was going to end in a more quiet reflective place, which was where I was heading to with Structures and with that first track on Structures, “Reflections in Suspension,” so eventually that piece emerges. And it’s absolutely gentle and very quiet and really not a piece that you think you would play for inmates in a prison, you know.
And the guy that played before me, Bob Ramey was his name, at the time he had all these drum machines mounted into a big rack and he used to do these drum machine grooves for Eddie Harris, the jazz player. So when Bob was playing the guys out there were wadding up pieces of paper and throwing them at him and all that sort of thing. So I thought I’m in for it here, you know, I don’t know what’s gonna happen here, but I’m just gonna go for it.
Reviews Editor –
Excerpt of article from Fact
Structures From Silence might be less trumpeted than, say, Eno’s Ambient records, but in terms of emotional affect and textural flair, it more than trumps them. Released in 1984 on Fortuna, this three-track collection of brocaded synth composition is a world away from the tacky lovebombs lying undetonated in new age thrift bins. Instead, Structures From Silence offers an ambient music that, although subtle and slow-moving, throbs with life – music which, like a flagging Chinese lantern, appeared to have gently bobbed down from the cosmos. On the 30-minute title track in particular, Roach’s work is deep, majestic, coruscating as coral. In fact, if you’ve never had the stomach for ambient, Structures From Silence is as good a starting point as we can think of: we didn’t crown it our tenth favourite album of the 1980s on a whim.
Reviews Editor –
Excerpt of article from Ambient Music Guide
The new synth could play up to eight notes at once, making it the the gold standard for polyphonic analog synthesisers in the 1980’s. By his own admission Roach became utterly obsessed with owning one, which he eventually did after securing a very high interest loan.
“The sense I had with this sound was no less than that a lustful guitar player yearning for a Classic Strat, Gibson SG or Telecaster,” he says. “And then to just finally sit with it and start to connect and carve with the sound at such a pure level of desire…it was beyond pure bliss. This feeling mixed with the epiphanies of all that was unfolding in my life at the time was essential to the creation of Structures.” He still plays one today. “You you can buy a soft synth version of this instrument now but it’s really like comparing formica-countertop laminate and wood. You can’t match the original in terms of organic texture and, above all, the warmth of pure analog sound.”
Reviews Editor –
A review of the 30th Anniversary 3-CD edition
From Wondering Sound
In the past year, New Age music has begun to escape the lamentable late-’80s stereotypes — Harmonic Convergence, crystals, Kenny G — that have long plagued it. Last fall, Light in the Attic released a stellar compilation called I Am the Center that catalogued small-press New Age releases from the ’50s to the ’70s; Warp records reissued Laaraji; All Saints reissued Harold Budd. Articles popped up in Pitchfork and even in the New York Times.
One name conspicuously missing from this mini-renaissance is the California-born/Arizona-based Steve Roach. Much of the creative churn of artists like Daniel Lopatin and Mark McGuire has been Roach’s raison d’etre for decades: working with many different fellow musicians over a seemingly endless stream of releases, evincing a desire to experiment with electronics and beyond.
The album that fully established Roach as a force was his third overall, Structures from Silence, originally released in 1984 by early new age label/distribution service Fortuna Records. After various represses and remasterings over the years, it’s now back in a three-CD edition for its 30th anniversary by longtime Roach supporters Projekt Records. The two bonus discs that complement the reissue consist of four later, previously unreleased pieces Roach indicates in the liner notes came from the same sources of inspiration, specifically a “place of stillness and deep inner quiet,” as Structures.
From the start, one can easily hear the deep sense of serenity initially explored by acts such as Popul Vuh, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and others. What makes Structures from Silence so special, still, is how Roach had both come to match his inspirations and suggest a new way forward. The opening “Reflections in Suspension” lives up to both its name and that of the album’s, slowly emerging from deep quiet only to again fade away, a pattern repeated on the other two original tracks. While this itself is a common enough pattern in the field, it’s the arrangement’s focus that calls attention here, pared down and extremely deliberate.
It’s almost shocking to hear something so deceptively simple take shape, a soft, very slow lead melody of sorts in a steady loop while deeper layers of sound sometimes wash up like a just-on-the-horizon slow wave waiting to come in. Structure over silence indeed, but also suspension as tension, a surface beauty that suggests potentially dark as well as vast depths. “Quiet Friend” is even more understated, the gentlest of tones softly overlaying another and never quite disappearing, taking a calmly playful turn towards its end. It suggests the lovely moment when Arthur Conan Doyle has Sherlock tell Watson “You have the grand gift of silence.” Like a trustworthy friend, the music is just there, a reassurance.
As for the half-hour long title track, two notes in initial sequence almost resemble a fanfare, or a call to a ceremony, repeated at points as other melodies — almost but not quite missable as melodies, so intentionally, carefully drawn out are they — emerge in sequence, evolving and sounding warmer as the piece progresses and hints of distant murmurings play out. The whole idea of making a structure out of silence is an intentional paradox; making that idea tangible, while simultaneously suggesting closeness in a vast space, was Roach’s self-imposed challenge. There are no random washes of what Matt Groening once called “Spacey Tinkles” in a Life in Hell gag, no “beautiful” sounds or tones or glissandos, just a composition that demands focus as much as any explosive noise might. -Ned Raggett
Reviews Editor –
Excerpt of feature article from Tucson Weekly
Follow-up interview at Tucson Weekly
Structures from Silence was the result of nearly a year’s worth of recording in Roach’s Culver City flat, which served as “pretty much a 24/7 laboratory.” Roach would spend his days working odd jobs—including a stint alongside Simpsons creator Matt Groening at Licorice Pizza, a Southern California record and video shop—and then head back to the Timeroom, picking up where he left off. “I’d get off work and be right back into the studio, step right back into this space,” Roach says.
His recordings weren’t conceived as an album, but soon began to make sense that way. Roach gathered the three tracks and pressed a run of cassettes on his own. Word spread quickly. Stephen Hill of the long-running, nationally distributed Hearts of Space radio program took note of Roach, and was one of the artists he championed, along with musicians such as Constance Demby, Laraaji and Iasos.
Reviews Editor –
From Sonic Curiosity
This is a 2014 reissue of the release from 1984 and features 59 minutes of remastered flowing electronic music. When this album saw its original release in the mid-Eighties, it quickly became a classic recording, a vanguard document for what would grow into the ambient music genre. While considered by many to be an ambient release (and granted, the tuneage is quite gentle), this music actually possesses a definite degree of melodic definition.
The electronics are soft and the riffs waft on easygoing breezes. Delicate tones sigh, while smooth keyboard sustains pulsate to form vaporous backdrops. A percentage of the chords exhibit twinkling properties, nicely counterbalancing the airy character of the majority of the electronics. The riffs are carefully layered in such a manner that each texture eloquently slides into play, influencing the extent thread with its entrance, endurance and passing.
Subliminal pools of water churn deep within the minimal mix, creating an interesting aquatic tinge to the airy structures. While empowered with gentle melodic aspects, these compositions instill a placid calm on the listeners, evoking skyscapes filled with majestic clouds crossing the heavens at pensive velocities.
This release is also available in a deluxe edition which includes two bonus discs featuring 131 minutes of newly recorded electronic ambience by Roach.
The music on these bonus discs is more representative of conventional ambient music, comprised of elongated textures that rise and wane like space breathing. The tracks are exceptionally long, allowing the tones ample opportunity to establish seemingly unvarying stretches while actually mutating at a subtle pace.
Roach has a particular talent for coaxing seamless passages into sneaky evolution, as harmonic flows stream from one character to another, with shrill pitches giving way to dreamy atmospherics and eventually sliding into moody vistas – and all without obvious transitions. Each passage evokes a sedating effect that actually contains a subtle edge that mounts peaceful drama. Another novel trait to his ambient compositions is their tendency to lull without inducing any tiring effects, keeping the listener attuned to the gentle passage from one dreamstate to the next, inspiring introspection of an alert type.
Fans of the original release will delight in this remastered version, and really dig the additional material. -Matt Howarth
Reviews Editor –
From Sounds Behind the Corner
Trent’anni per un disco non sono poca cosa: a questo livello di eternità Sonora viene quasi da chiedersi se certa musica non possa essere annoverata tra la neo-classica, una possibilità per rendere evergreen (come la modernità del lavoro su triplice supporto di Steve Roach) un sound che esula da rock, pop, qualunque stile si voglia considerare.
Così l’ambient inteso come sinfonia moderna ed eventuali post a pieno diritto meriterebbe di essere considerata.
Trent’anni come tre decadi sono l’attività di Projekt, auguri ad entrambi per un lungo cammino fatto di perfezioni e scoperte…
Una quiete quasi innaturale: già nel 1984 l’album che uscì per Fortuna Records aveva già tutta la struttura che nel tempo, nelle tante collaborazioni, Steve Roach avrebbe espresso determinando profondi soundscape d’immoto splendore, sul filo della new-age senza sincretismi musicali, senza influssi chillout, solamente ambient in grado di descrivere scenari elegiaci e fantasie pittoriche.
Nei tre dischetti delle re-release di Projekt torna dal baule quel vinile che oggi, ridigitalizzato, mantiene intatta tutta la pionieristica impressione del suono immutato, costante, litanie silenti per paradisi globali, assoluti.
Nei nomi delle tracks ricorre spesso il titolo “Reflection”, riflessioni ed inflessioni, chiusure ed aperture di un’anima sensibile che si scioglie nelle molecole della materia, ne capta la minuta potenza energetica, la trasmette sotto forma di micro-partiture ‘in sospensione’, come declama il primo movimento del primo disco.
Suite lunghe e statiche per dare il tempo di entrare nei solchi al respiro, alle vibrazioni inconsce, dalla title-track ad ognuna delle sette tracce ripartite, frazionate nella tripla opera, nessuna presenza umana, se non quella del compositore, ha il potere di sporcare un landscape sonoro intatto, come fosse superficie d’acqua in assenza di vento, manto di neve dopo la tormenta nel momento in cui un raggio di sole la illumina, prato fiorito immobile come su tela, con i suoi colori minuscoli tra il monocromo azzurro, bianco o verde, come il sogno quando non cede alla tentazione della realtà.
Per tanti aspetti la musicalità di Roach si ritrova poi via via nel tempo, nelle evoluzioni della musica moderna, nei primi Sigur Ròs ancora legati alle sonate ambientali della loro Terra, crescendo assieme a tutti coloro che l’ambient l’hanno voluto come didascalia del tempo, dello spazio, della vita che nasce lenta ed universale, “Suspension”, nel secondo dischetto, è cosmica e terrena allo stesso tempo, “Below”, alla fine del terzo, è cupa come la notte che incombe senza mutare la sostanza, solo le cromie, la materia giace davanti a noi, muta solo la cangianza che collassa nell’oscurità, nel Cosmo padre di vita e di speranza, d’amore in divenire, di leggi mai capite, metabolizzate.
Musica per angeli che non esistono, musica ce giunge da lontano e va lontano, il tempo non la muterà mai, il potere di Structures From Silence. -Nicola Tenani
Reviews Editor –
#10 best album of the 80s!
Steve Roach’s later work may have taken him into some rather shaky places, but Structures From Silence remains one of the most important ambient albums ever crafted. It isn’t as high profile as similarly poised records from Brian Eno, but its enduring influence has been unmistakably visible in the three decades since its release.
The warming yet alien tones of the album’s title track undoubtedly served as a blueprint for Aphex Twin’s jawdropping double album Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, and the track still sounds removed from time almost thirty years later. ‘Reflections In Suspension’ however is almost upbeat in comparison, bringing to mind early Emeralds or even top-tier soundtrack composer Cliff Martinez with its memorable, emotive synth bass and glimmering pads. Labeling the album as meditative almost does it a disservice – Structures From Silence is a thoughtful, slow-paced study in synthesizer, and it has never been more relevant.
Robert Rich: “Steve is a good friend of mine, and I respect him immensely. He is amazingly single minded and intense in his approach to his music, and I think Structures From Silence was the point where this single-minded approach first coalesced into a natural voice – I think that’s where you first heard his voice in its pure form. It is absolutely indicative of the way he works, which is to live in his sound constantly, and be surrounded by it. I think that’s one reason why it’s such a single minded and pure piece of work.”
Reviews Editor –
From Sonic Curiosity
Originally released in 1984, this album (one of Roach’s all-time classics) has been remastered and reissued on CD in 2001. Lacking the soft percussive edge of Roach’s later works, the music on this 59 minute long CD is drastically ambient. The scope of sounds are entirely synthesized, exploring dreamy tonalities and drifting pulsations in three long compositions. Utilizing amorphous but melodic structures, the simplicity of this music expands beyond minimalism, generating lush but passive soundscapes to mesmerize and sedate the listener.
Sighing electronics establish a foundation for cloudlike airs that drift emotionally without disrupting concentration. While these foundation textures refuse to vary, additional layers provide harmonic substance. With concrete determination, this music refuses to be intrusive, while maintaining a constant presence at the periphery of the audience’s psyche.
In 2000, Yoga Journal voted this release one of the top-ten all-time CDs for practicing yoga. -Matt Howarth
Reviews Editor –
From Q Magazine
Roach, like Giles Reaves, is part of a new generation of young composers who have grown up in a world where making music through computers has been the norm, rather than the bewildering new development it seemed to many older musicians. With this, his third release, Roach has taken pains to create three lengthy pieces which unfold so slowly that a casual listener might think nothing much is going on. Paying closer attention reveals the subtlest of interwoven rhythms and melodic fragments mingling with gradually evolving sweeps of orchestral colour which become surprisingly powerful and evocative before the music resolves back to the simple structures from which it started. A box of continuous delights. -Johnny Black
Reviews Editor –
Minimalism and ambience sometimes make compatible bedfellows. Both genres attempt to produce a lot from a little, but in the wrong hands, the mere repetition or lack of composed sounds can signal just as minimalist a palette of ideas. But synthesist and sound designer Roach has the right hands – his tone poems, quite minimal by nature, take the concept of ‘ambience’ and turn it on its proverbial head. This idyllic record draws the listener in so deep, they might not wish to escape should they even be able to do so. “Reflections in Suspension” is music to soak in while sunlight dances off falling dust motes, delicate, fragile and undeniably beautiful. Roach’s initial foray into monastic sound, this prefaces his classic Quiet Music of a few years hence, and is just as vital. -Darren Bergstein
Reviews Editor –
From Ink 19
Last year, Yoga Journal listed Structures From Silence as one of their Top 10 all-time CDs for yoga – not bad for an album that had first been released 16 years earlier! Many more folks than yoga practitioners love this album; in fact, it’s one of Steve Roach’s top three best-selling albums from his entire career (over the course of which he has released literally dozens of albums). Recently it went out of print, and Projekt remastered and re-released it.
After listening to Structures, I can see why it’s one of the most popular of Roach’s albums. Composed entirely of synth textures, it doesn’t have the tribal rhythms so crucial to much of his work. But it also isn’t as harsh or jarring as some of his material; it’s peaceful, relaxing, and spiritually rejuvenating, so that by the end of its three long tracks you feel rested, cleansed, and refreshed.
The album opens with “Reflections In Suspension,” composed mainly of rhythmic electronic watery blips, high sparkling synth touches, and an underlying low drone. Listening to it feels like being rocked gently in a canoe or rowboat by low swells on a wide lake, as the sun strikes diamond sparkles from the tips of the wavelets. There is perhaps just a hint of menace at the far edges of your awareness, with darker organ-like synth tones evoking a distant sense of the vast depths of dark water beneath you. But mostly the shimmering waves of synth loops just wash over you, warm, radiant, and relaxing. “Quiet Friend” is more subdued, and more spiritual in tone, with gentle synth washes enveloping you and pulsing with higher tones like star-beacons in the darkness. Sitting alone in peaceful reflection you feel another presence, kind and giving, that buoys and guides your thoughts and spirit with understanding and affection.
Structures From Silence ends with the almost thirty minute long title track. Beautiful, rhythmic watery synth lines billow around you and cushion you on all sides, like ripples or clouds, while high drone-voices shimmer like flickering fireflies in the purple twilight joining heaven and earth. As you immerse yourself deeper and deeper in the track, you experience a slight sense of falling, only to be buoyed up again by the warm, drifting synths, which all too soon return you to the silence of which you and they are made. -Dave Aftandilian
Reviews Editor –
From Yoga Journal
In December 2000, Yoga Journal voted Structures from Silence one of the top-10 all time CDs for yoga —16 years after it was first released — proving this CD to be one of the ultimate soundtracks for contemplation, relaxation, meditation, and focused creativity. In most yoga classes silence is golden, but these teachers think music can help you hear what you’re missing.
In the same breath that they mentioned succumbing to a growing backlash against synthesizer music in favor of acoustic sounds, several teachers cited this purely electronic recording from 1984 as a classic soundtrack for yoga practice. “What I like about Steve Roach’s music, particularly this CD,” says Todd Norian (of Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Lenox, MA), “is the spaciousness, the gradual quality of transition from sound to sound. It’s really seamless, and doesn’t draw attention to itself. Roach has a mysterious way of being invisible yet richly present.” Over the past 16 years, Roach has experimented with complicated electro-acoustic mixes, ambitious sampling, and thorny rhythms (as on his recent Light Fantastic). But here he sticks to purely synthesized computer sounds that slowly pulse in and out of the speakers like the most relaxed breathing you have ever heard. A close relative of ambient music, Structures from Silence makes good on its name, achieving more dynamic momentum that such ambient archetypes as Brian Eno’s Music for Airports .
Although amorphous to the max, it nonethless creates the illusion of architectural shapes assembling themselves from basic cosmic elements. Elongated melodies stretch out like silver threads; lushly harmonized chords overlap one another like a series of gentle waves spilling onto the shore.
Trying to discern any intrinsic emotional content in the great swells of sound or calculate the mathematical relationships between notes would be like trying to psychoanalyze the sea or count its individual drops of water. Roach’s three meditative compositions — “Quiet Friend.” “Structures from Silence.” and “Reflections in Suspension” — transcend typical musical standards and set their own requirements for deep listening.
Reviews Editor –
From The Guardian (UK)
There seems to be an increase in alternative/complementary medicines at the moment. I have just started a yoga course, so imagine my delight when I discovered that this CD comes with glowing reviews from Yoga Journal, which isn’t renowned for its musical endorsement. Consisting of three lengthy, electronic soundscapes this music is a perfect accompaniment to meditation, yoga, painting, drawing, walking, breathing or you could even just listen to it. It’s the sort of relaxing feeling that you just know is going to sound great while you burn some incense and watch your water feature. Song titles like “Reflections In Suspension” and “Quiet Friend” give you an indication of the sort of vibe on offer here, which reminds me of the more ambient moments of Future Sound Of London. It’s the sort of music that you can use to help relax the mind of all the stresses of the day. By listening to the gentle lapping of this synthesised score you can achieve a sense of calm similar to the hypnotic effect of staring at the sea, or the sky. I’m looking forward to listening to Steve Roach’s music when I next do either of these activities. Perfect to wind down to in the evening, this CD is also good for gently starting your day. Just don’t listen to it if you are in a hurry, because you are likely to forget the reason you were hurrying, though this might not be such a bad thing. -Stuart Moses
Reviews Editor –
From Sputnik Music
Amazing is the concept of unlimited space, the idea that there is no physical boundary within the reach of anything at any given point that marks the edge of our universe. Brilliant is a being that can capture and understand such a marvelous concept on so many levels and express it by means of sound, specifically in musical form. Ambient and electronic musician Steve Roach is one of the rare few who have successfully been able to achieve this goal, proving his understanding of the notion in a number of ways. Metaphorically speaking, Steve Roach truly captures the true meaning of space with his music because over the years it has become obvious that his musical capacity knows no bounds. The musician has released one and a half solo albums on average per year since his 1982 debut Now, each one ranging somewhere between generally solid and utterly flawless. In a more literal sense, Roach’s music perfectly captures the essence of space and all of its wondrous aspects, portraying them through peaceful melodies and mysterious ambiance. When it comes to fulfilling such a task, however, nothing that Steve Roach or any other musician has ever done or very likely ever will do will come close to competing with his magnificent third record, Structures from Silence.
Structures from Silence is a monumental landmark in the area of ambient music. It didn’t take long after its release to become a widespread ambient favorite and be considered one of the greatest albums in the genre of all time. Up until the release of Structures from Silence, Roach’s music has been composed of far more energized pieces, being both fast-paced and occasionally calm and relaxing while including a wide variety of electronic beats and tribal rhythms. With his third album, Roach pushed aside the majority of his previous musical qualities and left behind the most simple and beautiful quality of his sound. This worked all for the best, as the final product is certainly one of the most special pieces of electronic music one can experience. The album itself is a journey waiting to happen that, once started, you will never want to end. “Reflections in Suspension” will see you taking off from Earth and traveling farther than anyone has ever dreamed possible, getting closer than ever to destinations barely visible through a telescope back home; with “Quiet Friend” you will continue your journey through space while becoming overwhelmed with all that you have experienced: the sights, the distances, the sizes, the endlessness; finally, the title track will find you coming closer to a true understanding of space and its lack of limits, countless undiscovered regions, and infinite questions that have yet to be asked and may never receive answers.
Structures from Silenceis truly the soundtrack to a dream that has yet to take place. It is an album everybody should keep accessible at all times in case of a desperate need of relaxation, the impulsive desire to stargaze, or even just for pleasurable listening purposes. This is not the type of ambient record that will require time and patience to allow the music to sink in. Once the music kicks in, the last thing you will want is for it to end. Structures from Silence is just one of Steve Roach’s ambient masterpieces, though this is the one that will leave a mark on you and will stick with you for ages to come. Summary: Dream On. Rating: 5 out of 5 -Tim Bartolini
Reviews Editor –
From New Age Voice
Oct 2002. Voted #4 on The 25 Most Influential Ambient Albums Of All Time. One of the pioneers of the American spacemusic scene, initially inspired by German synthesists such as Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, Roach has explored styles from quiet contemplation to raging sequencer storms, from organic tribal grooves to twitchy electronic rhythms, frequently pointing the way for others to follow. One of his most influential works is the 1984 release Structures from Silence. This recording is a soothing, enveloping soundscape, ideal for quieting the mind and calming the body. The gentle ebb and flow of warm synthesizer textures are based on the rhythm of breathing, and entrains the listeners’ own respiration to its serene pace. It’s useful: for setting a tone in a room, for aiding in meditation, for easing the transition to sleep, but it’s also sensually pleasing.
Reviews Editor –
From Alternative Press
Nov 2001. Reissue of ambient classic that set the standard for everything that followed. Back when ambient and deep-space music were called New Age, and amid so many now-forgotten releases from anyone with a synthesizer and an index finger, there appeared an instant classic by a rising star. Steve Roach had just begun to make a name for himself with a series of sequencer-oriented albums when he released Structures From Silence in 1984. Over three deceptively simple tracks, “Reflections in Suspension,” “Quiet Friend” and the still unequaled title piece, Roach forged innovative sounds. Over the years, many listeners have praised the album’s therapeutic and meditative qualitites, but Structures From Silence remains foremost a work of the heart, with tracks like “Quiet Friend” forever evoking an aura of melancholic solitude. Whatever Brian Eno may have set in motion with his landmark Ambient series, Roach took a step further by creating something with a resounding sense of humanity and emotion. Rating: 9 out of 10 -Mark Burbey
Reviews Editor –
From All Music
Heralded by many as one of the finest Ambient works of all time Steve Roach’s Structures from Silence is right up there with Brian Eno’s Music for Airports and deservedly so. Originally released 1984, Structures from Silence was deemed a classic almost immediately, but the contrast grew greater as Roach’s output did, and the sheer beauty and clarity of this recording became more clear with time; then Structures from Silence became a bit of a legend after it went out of print. Projekt has done Ambient and music enthusiasts in general a great service by putting this excellent and classic recording back into print. With this re-release at last Roach’s early work can be listened to, enjoyed and made available to the buying public at large. Structures 2001 has also been remastered for better sound quality, thus creating an even more evocative atmospheric experience. This is an exciting recording from a wonderful era in electronic Ambient / Spacemusic. The 1980s saw the advent of so much electronic and synthesized music, but finally one of the finest recordings of the decade has become available again for a new generation and a new time. Rating: 5 out of 5