2 Monuments of Trance 16:31
3 Primal Analog 9:20
4 Molecules of Momentum 9:05
5 Monuments of Ecstasy 15:08
6 This Place On Earth 4:36
Total time: 66:09
The visionary tribal-ambient trio of Byron Metcalf, Steve Roach & Rob Thomas opens a portal into an expanded state of being. Monuments of Ecstasy contains six impeccably crafted pieces of modern-tribal magic; the visceral power of sound and rhythm work to activate a body-centered passion and life-force arousal. Byron’s drums and percussion fuse with Steve’s hybrid grooves, array of analog modular, virtual analog synths and mixing enhancements; Rob’s serpentine didgeridoo weaves aboriginal textures and otherworldly voices, adding ancient layers to the trio’s flows and soundscapes. The result are majestic and powerful formations that rise up from the earth in an ever-evolving organic listening experience.
Driven by a constant undercurrent of fluid percussive pulses, the music induces a sense of hyper-perception on all levels – from cellular to celebration. This is akin to the expanded level of awareness achieved throughout time by seekers worldwide. The entire body becomes a receptor-center for these primal forms of rhythmic momentum and emotive textures. A myriad of interwoven patterns, accentuated by state of the art recording, mixing and mastering, combine to transport the listener into a numinous dimension of energy, expansion and bliss – the very definition of ecstasy.
Activating an euphoric state of body-mind-spirit awareness, the tracks develop and emerge as they reveal their intensity and power. Just like the massive, magnificent monuments that grace the album cover, these pieces inspire a breathtaking state of awe. With an underlying power and strength, the expansiveness of these Monuments of Ecstasy await…
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Byron Metcalf is an award-winning professional musician and recording artist who also holds a Ph.D. in transpersonal psychology, a master’s degree in counseling psychology and is the creator of The Shaman’s Heart Program – The Path of Authentic Power, Purpose & Presence. Byron’s unique understanding of the healing and transformative power of expanded states of consciousness infuses his music and drumming – allowing listeners to easily access transcendent and mystical realms of experience.
Steve Roach helped pioneer the evolution of ambient/electronic music, shaping it into what it is today. An extremely prolific composer with a discography of over 100 albums since his 1982 debut, his landmark recordings include Structures from Silence, Dreamtime Return, Origins and his most recent The Delicate Forever. They all draw from a unique ground, a primordial recognition of sound that creates a bridge out of everyday reality to emotive, cinematic, soul-stirring depths encompassing the wonder and awe of life’s ebb and flow.
Rob Thomas is a master didgeridoo player and founding member of the legendary Inlakesh, whose music was used in several films throughout the 90s including the IMAX film “Sacred Planet.” Their recording The Gathering is a breakthrough shamanic-trance album that inspired a generation of didgeridoo enthusiasts. From his mountain top base in the Smokey Mountains of western North Carolina, he travels across the U.S. bringing didgeridoo music to schools with a program that raises cultural, environmental & global awareness in today’s youth.
Reviews Editor –
This, it seems, is a very good time to be a fan of tribal ambient. Over in the southwest corner of the US, electro-shamanic pulses are flowing like rivers ready to ferry us straight off to the lower worlds. I will not question whatever planetary alignment has effected this; I am quite content to immerse myself in it. First it was Byron Metcalf and Mark Seelig’s superb Intention, then it was Steve Roach unearthing some lost goodness on The Ancestor Circle, and now—is it unbecoming of me as a reviewer if I just say “Wow” here? Because now we have Monuments of Ecstasy, which takes the already well-established and incredibly potent chemistry between Roach and Metcalf and throws in didgeridoo master Rob Thomas (Inlakesh) to serve up future-tribe grooves at their best. With Thomas and drummer Metcalf firmly rooted in the organic truths of breath and hands, Roach gets behind the controls to bend circuitry into deep prayers. The balance is gorgeous, equal doses of smoky, humid atmospheres and vibrant, tech-driven energy. And the sliders keep moving between the two; each of the six tracks finds it way through these stages, and each hits its absolute stride when all of it is in full effect. “Monuments of Trance” is a fine example, opening on long curls from Thomas’ didg, underlaid with faster pulses and traditional yelps and snarls. Metcalf’s drums rise into the mix, ramping up the intensity while Roach folds in electronic washes and everything melts down into a quite effective sonic tranquilizer. And when the pieces throttles back to a long, rolling wave-form and the ridge, you know you’re just waiting for the engines to fire up again–and they do, on a signature Roach sequenced-percussion groove.
“Primal Analog” jumps out the quiet ending of “…Trance” on another cool sequencer pulse, giving the modern side of things the forefront for a while. Now, I realize that Roach did not break out his favorite bass guitar to lay down a righteously funk-worthy slap line to start “Molecules of Momentum,” but the feel is certainly there. This is Monuments of Ecstasy at maximum velocity. Thomas’ fast-breath work here is so very good, sharp rasps punching through the flow. And this track is seriously deep, built on so many layers of small sounds that completely fill your head. The title track comes up out of a Thomas’ menagerie of animal sounds and guttural snarls to unfold into something reminiscent of Roach’s outings with Erik Wøllo. A soft, repeating keyboard riff sings over the wash. Nice melodic touch to offset what’s been, up until here, more of a surge-and-flow situation. After all, they do have let you catch your breath eventually, right? My only less-than-drooling-over-this comment about Monuments of Ecstasy is that the final track, “This Place On Earth,” feels like it’s just allowed to sort of limp out. Not that I expected some sort of big, crescendo-filled denouement, but it almost leaves the thing feeling unfinished. Honestly, I checked the track listing on the CD cover to make sure I hadn’t completely burned the disc into my player. This, however, is an extremely minor quibble when held up against to the bulk of this release, which has quickly and firmly slotted itself into my top tribal releases of all time. I love this album. I play it loud. I lose myself in it, over and over. It strikes every primal nerve in my body, and it sets me journeying. This is serious medicine, and you need to take it, too.
Reviews Editor –
Districarsi nella matassa di release fatte nel corso di quasi 35 anni di carriera da parte di Steve Roach è impresa quasi impossibile. Ciò che però contraddistingue la sua opera è la tendenza alle collaborazioni, da sempre scelte fra alcune delle migliori esperienze in ambito ambient. Da Robert Rich a Vidna Obmana, passando per Roger King e addirittura Robert Fripp, Roach ha sempre rinvigorito la propria arte e la propria ispirazione attingendo all’energia vitale dei suoi compagni di avventura. Non sfugge a tale regola Monuments Of Ecstasy, nuova impresa nata dalla collaborazione con il polistrumentista americano Byron Metcalf e l’esperto di didgeridoo Rob Thomas. Già dall’niziale “Archaic Layers” si capisce che il filo conduttore è l’Australia e che i monumenti dell’estasi, di cui si parla nel titolo, non sono opere nate dall’ingegno umano, quanto piuttosto le rocce e le montagne plasmate dagli elementi naturali in secoli di storia.
Ecco quindi che si fondono le armonie di strumenti antichi e moderni: le percussioni e il suono gorgogliante del didgeridoo fanno da sostegno alle labili strutture dei synth, così come avviene anche in “Molecules Of Momentum”. Nel corso del programma ci sono anche momenti meno percussivi, un omaggio al passato di Roach come in “Primal Analog”, in cui è l’introspezione a dettare i temi del pezzo. E poi c’è la title-track, massiccia e potente, ma anche leggera per via di una linea melodica appena accennata che le conferisce originalità. Questo disco potrebbe essere stato composto in mezzo al deserto australiano, con la Ayers Rock come sfondo, essendo questi i temi di ispirazione di un opera che si pone fra le migliori ultime uscite di Roach. Tuttavia nell’opera è forte la presenza compositiva di Metcalf, che non a caso compare come primo nome, il quale dà una nuova spinta alle idee visionarie del compagno. Una collaborazione proficua, già testata in altri lavori (su tutti l’ottimo Tales From The Ultra Tribe), che non mancherà in futuro di dare altri succulenti frutti. Rating: 7/10 -Ferruccio Filippi
Reviews Editor –
From Nieuwe Noten
Het zijn inderdaad monumenten te noemen, de stukken die het driemanschap Byron Metcalf, Steve Roach en Rob Thomas samen hebben gemaakt. En die nu het album Monuments of Ecstasy vormen. Stukken waarin de kwaliteiten van de heren elkaar optimaal aanvullen. Het dwingende, zeer ritmische slagwerk van Metcalf, de bezwerende geluidsgolven van Roach en het donkere, soms dreunende digderidoospel van Thomas gaan naadloos in elkaar over en creëren zo een enerverend, transcendent geluid. Een album ook dat perfect past binnen het Projekt label.
De muziek is een kruising van ambient en tribal. Wat betekent dat er twee structuren over elkaar heen worden gelegd. Metcalf zorgt voor het ritmische slagwerk, vaak zeer extatisch en dansbaar, terwijl Roach zorg draagt voor de drone-achtige geluidsgolven. Thomas op didgeridoo draagt aan beide structuren bij: het ene moment onderbouwt hij de ritmische structuur, het andere moment levert hij een bijdrage aan de drone. En het is vooral die didgeridoo die regelmatig bijna onwezenlijk klinkt in zijn diep resonerende geluid. Soms heeft het zelfs wel iets onheilspellends, bijvoorbeeld in ‘Monuments of Trance’, zeker in combinatie met het heftige slagwerk van Roach. Ook het titelnummer ‘Monuments of Ecstacy’ is bijzonder. Het ritme ligt hier op een lager tempo, met een lome, wiegende cadans.
‘Primal Analog’ wijkt wat af van de rest van het werk omdat het slagwerk hier nagenoeg geen rol speelt en het ritme veeleer wordt voortgebracht door de elektronica. Het klinkt daardoor wat statisch en machinaal en mist het opzwepende dat de rest van het album kenmerkt.
Een aantal nummers van dit album is hier te beluisteren. Het complete album is te koop via Bandcamp.
Michael Hodgson –
`Monuments of Ecstasy’ features defining electronic artist Steve Roach collaborating with Byron Metcalf’s booming live drums and Rob Thomas’ didgeridoo and hand percussion to create a series of fluid, immersive and deeply hypnotic ambient atmospheres. While Roach’s frequent tribal elements are not as instantly obvious as on his previous album, the dreamtime hallucinatory `The Ancestor Circle’, they’re always bubbling under the surface, yet the album takes several steps forwards from that sound as well. Considering so many of his recent discs have been more
drifting and formless, Roach here favours plenty of cool sequencer patterns and programmed loops to bring a distinctly modern quality to the sound-worlds presented here, and all these elements come together as if the past and future are colliding and constantly weaving together.
Witness throughout opener `Archaic Layers’ Metcalf’s intimidating monolithic pounding tribal drums battering around Roach’s rising and falling cooling synth washes and Thomas’ reverberating didge drones. Only the most careful and near-unnoticeable variations in tempo sneak up on the listener and retreat back in the shadows here and there, subtle grooves turning frantic in an instant. Thrumming didge groans like the voice of God throughout `Monuments of Trance’, hypnotic primal drums circling around the listener and wavering electronic hums stretching out as if a vast ocean.
`Primal Analog’ takes a different turn, with a creaking, almost dancey electronic sequencer loop gurgling away that’s vaguely similar to the later more electronic-based Ozric Tentacles albums.
Ancient mystery and arriving destiny twist together in `Molecules of Momentum’, live percussion eruptions and programmed beats racing alongside each-other. The fifteen minute title track blends natural ambient sound collages with spirited didgeridoo ripples, a haunting piano melody that plays into infinity, gentle sweeping synth waves, slinking Orb-like trance grooves and dramatic drum thunderclaps that sound like the heavens opening up. Album closer `This Place on Earth’ soundtracks a brand new world being born, Steve’s low key lulling shimmering synths almost taking on victorious and wondrous moments more in line with many of his other recent works.
Earthbound and alien, grounded and dreamlike all at the same time, the trio of Roach, Metcalf and Thomas achieve a perfect unity together throughout this collaboration, making `Monuments of Ecstasy’ a precious ambient experience, and yet another intoxicating and evocative atmospheric musical statement from Steve Roach.
Four and a half stars.
(This review first appeared on the Prog Archives website)
Reviews Editor –
From Ambient Blog
Combine the synth layers of Steve Roach with the frame, shaman and bass drums of Byron Metcalf and the didgeridoo and percussion of Rob Thomas, and the result is a hypnotic ‘tribal ambient’ set that is indeed an impressive ‘monument of ecstasy’!
Reviews Editor –
From Sonic Curiosity
This 2015 release features 66 minutes of ceremonial music. Drum circles accompany didgeridoo and languid electronics to produce tribal tuneage of a celebratory nature.
While the emphasis is on percussives, the rhythms found in this music are soft and soothing instead of harsh and demanding. The beats are carefully muted, resulting in an antediluvian reverence. This gentility hardly impedes the rhythms from becoming quite complex, on occasion even driving, although retaining a pleasant fragility. Different percussive instruments are used, generating beats of unique character, from thumping to chugging to rumbling.
The electronics are mainly atmospheric, consisting of tonal threads that unfurl into elongated structures that seemingly undergo scarce variation. Evolution occurs among these tenuous drones, but in such a crafty fashion that one hardly notices any change. In more than one instance, the electronics muster a stronger presence, offering gritty pulsations of a tenderly demonstrative quality.
The didgeridoo provides additional textural flows, but these are more guttural than the delicate electronics. These breathy expressions generate a presence that alternates between droney flows to chords whose subtle wobble achieves a birdlike character at times.
These compositions are extremely vaporous. Despite the ongoing rhythms, the music remains calm, mesmerizing, communicating a mood of deep veneration for spirits that guide humanity away from stress and into the embrace of their own psyches. -Matt Howarth
Reviews Editor –
Metcalf and Roach collaborated on many endeavors in the past, back around the turn of the current century we had The Serpent’s Lair (2000), and a few years later Mantram (2004) and The Shaman’s Heart (2005), and in fact these collaborations have continued right up through the present.
The release at hand, Monuments of Ecstasy, falls into a similar general style, with one foot set firmly in the grooves of ancient tribal sounds, the other in the fluid, dreamy and expansive textures of ambient electronic sounds. The six tracks here explore different variations of the style, anchored by Metcalf’s powerful hypnotic drumming, as well as Thomas’ didgeridoo, voices, clay and wood percussion. Roach weaves into this powerful fabric a dreamy wall of primal textures created with various analog and modular synths and processing, along with percussive grooves and sounds of mysterious origins. The pulsating framework that the trio operate within make this a very different animal than most of Roach’s solo works, which tend to float into a crossweb of organic flowing textures without any percussive elements. Here the mix of hand drums, didgeridoo and other indigenous percussion keep the sound alive and the listener in a constantly flowing state of hyper-perception, while the synths weave in and out creating a magical trance-like quality; one won’t fall asleep listening to this one, but its primal nature does tend to induce a spiritual euphoric feeling that permeates the being. -Peter Thelen
Richard Gurtler –
From Relaxed Machinery
Long time kindred spirits and collaborators Byron Metcalf and Steve Roach have been constantly challenging their extraordinaire musicianship. Now their tribe has expanded as Rob Thomas of Inlakesh duo (with Tanya Gerard) returns after acclaimed Medicine Work, a high-spirited cowork with Byron (June 2013) and his guest performance on Intention by Byron & Mark Seelig (April 2014). Steve and Rob, if I am right, haven’t collaborated since 1999, when Steve delivered some groove magic to Inlakesh’s The Gathering album. So all in all, we have here a tribal super group to fire up some of the most adventurous shamanic performances. The team is joined also by Stan Yeatts, who is responsible for the photographic bliss, the inside 3-panel panoramic picture is absolutely stunning and provides as much monumental input to this groundbreaking work, which was released in 6-panel digipak at Projekt during January 2015. Additional credits include Sam Rosenthal (design) and Spotted Peccary’s Howard Givens (mastering).
The journey unfolds powerfully with 11 and half minute piece, “Archaic Layers”. Steve’s expansive desert drifts and engrossing grooves are quickly joined by Byron’s passionate drumming magic, a quite razor-sharp. Unmistakably tribal-driven, but this time heavy pounding with nearly industrial touch. Along the way, Rob’s didgeridoo droning spirals infrequently keep on arising. A truly hyper-active blend exhibiting the very best of each tribesman, welcome to their spectacularly multi-dimensional performance!!! “Monuments Of Trance”, with 16:31 the longest ecstasy, slows down a bit, fronted by continuously encircling didge drones and barks, but the intense drumming quickly ties the score while distant glimpses of Southwest stark landscapes occasionally pervade. After 10-minute mark a tranquil transition awakes, before locomotive-infused tribal grooves and winding didge transcendence steal the center stage and navigate the final ride into the mesmerizing, mind-transporting trance paradise. No way to argue about the track title… “Primal Analog” dives straightly into sequencer-driven realms, but safely remains on the path, tirelessly opiating and reinforced by remote scanty beat and oscillating whizzing drone pipe. Perpetually spellbinding listening experience is guaranteed!!! The next piece, “Molecules Of Momentum”, incorporates an array of ecstatic aboriginal sounds, hauntingly evolving infectious rhythms and diaphanously floating layers. Perfect blend of strongly mesmerizing Dreamtime artifacts and shamanic rites of the Americas bridged with modern sound artistry. Then comes the title track “Monuments Of Ecstasy”, which clocks just over the 15-minute mark. The first 4 minutes transport the listener into unique amalgamation of primordial carvings with cyber-trance-induced grooves. But then Steve takes over the torch, when thrillingly awe-inspiring expansive melody sneaks in. This was absolutely unexpected, what a jaw-dropping transformation!!! I am deeply fascinated by this composition since the very first time it was officially introduced. The limits have been pushed once again, when already highly distinctive tribal-trance ambience is confronted with some electro-industrial flavorings. The track title fits more than precisely, a pure eargasm awaits here, no question about that!!! Shorter closing composition, “This Place On Earth”, is under Steve’s dominion and it soothes my ears with gracefully immense drifting panoramas reaching the eternally magnificent portal of atmospheric blissfulness. While delving into the deepest zones of monstrous calmness, delicate cyber-tech fragments inconspicuously permeate through. A massively embracing meditation!!!
This is certainly not just another rather ordinary tribal ambient journey, this is a genuine sonic (and visual) elixir approaching and achieving a new level in the collaborative evolution between Steve Roach and Byron Metcalf, this time with an enormous contribution of Rob Thomas, the master of the didgeridoo (player, teacher and crafter). Bravo Gentlemen!!! I just can’t imagine where these curanderos want to shift their next chapter, it will be a quite tough task, but I am sure this will again challenge innate visionaries of these shamanic powerhouses. For now, explore, feel and absorb all the magic of these Monuments Of Ecstasy!!!
Richard Gürtler (Jan 31, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)
Reviews Editor –
Having last teamed up with Byron Metcalf for the early 2013 release Tales from the Ultra Tribe, Steve Roach now reunites with him and brings Rob Thomas aboard for Monuments of Ecstasy. A scan of the instrumentation featured on the sixty-seven-minute release offers a preliminary hint of its sonic character: all three contribute a broad range of percussive sounds to the material (frame drum, large shaman drum, bass drum, drum machine, clap sticks, clay vessel, rattles), while Roach and Thomas respectively contribute synthesizer (analog modular, analog and virtual hardware synths) and didjeridu to the mix. In keeping with past Roach recordings, the music unfolds as a densely layered flow; however, compared to recent releases by the prolific artist, Monuments of Ecstasy is more aggressive and dynamic in rhythmic terms.
Though the album features six tribal-ambient pieces ranging in length from five to sixteen minutes, Monuments of Ecstasy gives the impression of being a single, unified work, despite the presence of indexing and pauses between the tracks. From the opening moments of “Archaic Layers,” the recording is animated by an energized tribal pulse that provides an ever-mutating percussive ground for the electronic and didjeridoo textures stretching across it. Sounds repeatedly drift in and out of a mix that itself alternates continually between episodes of ecstatic intensity and calm. During the quieter passages, synthesizer washes move to the fore and the percussive dimension recedes into the background; during the intense sequences, the music’s percussive thrust becomes the dominant focal point with the other instruments functioning as accompaniments. The didgeridoo also naturally stands out as another focal point, even if Thomas doesn’t generate melodic phrases with it so much as thicken the overall sound with long-form tones and textures.
While the serene closer “This Place On Earth” and lumbering, fifteen-minute title track present the kind of hypnotic tribal-ambient of the kind one might expect given the personnel involved, “Molecules of Momentum,” as if designed to purposefully emphasize the non-ambient side of the release, takes flight with an uptempo swirl of percussive and synthetic effects. Interestingly a rapid bass line helps power the piece in a way that recalls Michael Henderson’s playing in Miles Davis’s bands during its On the Corner period, and the music as a whole isn’t all that far removed from the Afro-funk broil generated by Miles’ band for the trumpeter to blow over. “Primal Analog” likewise adds a contemporary feel to the album in featuring a tribal-funk groove whose swing is enhanced by equally funky synthesizer patterns.
Despite the presence of electronics and synthesizers, Monuments of Ecstasy exudes a primal spirit. There’s something raw, earthy, and era-transcending about it, and in those moments when the music rises to a feverish pitch one might be reminded of the sun-worshipping rituals conducted by ancient peoples.
Reviews Editor –
L’ultima di Steve Roach e Byron Metcalf assieme era corrisposta al primo, vero grande disco firmato dai due in coppia, quel Tales From The Ultra Tribe che due anni fa segnò il vertice del tribalismo trancedelico inaugurato ed evoluto negli anni precedenti. Un disco ad oggi sottovalutato nella mastodontica produzione del californiano, cui aveva fatto eco pochi mesi dopo l’interessante Medicine Work. Un lavoro concepito e realizzato dal solo Metcalf in cui era comparso come secondo firmatario, per la prima volta, l’australiano Rob Thomas, accreditato principalmente come strumentista specializzato nel digeridoo.
Due anni dopo, Projekt annuncia la formazione di un inedito act che vede i tre riuniti e pubblica quasi sottovoce il loro primo parto, la cui copertina già lascia pochi dubbi. Il richiamo al Roach “australiano” e al tema del deserto è palese, così come la collocazione del disco in fila indiana dietro ai vari capitoli su cui il maestro dell’ambient music ha costruito questa parte del suo lungo e lastricato percorso – dal primo, pessimo quanto necessario “Australia” al “solito” immortale Dreamtime Return, passando per la (spesso purtroppo dimenticata) coppia Western Spaces–Desert Solitaire e, fra gli altri, al più recente Day Out Of Time. Eppure, stavolta le novità sono parecchie.
La prima di queste è il fatto che Metcalf arrivi per la prima volta a prendere un parziale sopravvento, dominando una prima fase di disco che porta la ricerca del californiano sulla tradizione ritmica aborigena alle conseguenze più estreme da metà Novanta. La lunga odissea percussiva di “Monuments Of Trance” è il cuore pulsante della progressione, che qui accelera in maniera impercettibile guidando verso uno stato di ipnosi profonda e irreversibile. A fargli da contrappunto la lunga (e altrettanto austera) immersione introduttiva di “Archaic Layers” e la raffica di “Molecules Of Momentum”, in cui sembra davvero di tornare ai tempi di “Origins”.
Già nel mezzo di queste lunghe tempeste di sabbia rossa, però, il rifugio a suon di arpeggiatori di “Primal Analog” costituisce un’eccezione capace di mantenere lo stato di trance pescando dal repertorio più kosmische-oriented di Roach. Un ritorno in auge dei sintetizzatori del maestro pronti a intrecciare una tela elettronica per contenere da questo punto in poi le esondazioni percussive, nonché, infine, a prendere il controllo del soundscape nella scia di luce della conclusiva “This Place On Earth”, nella quale invece gli altri strumenti tendono progressivamente a farsi da parte, abbandonando uno per volta la scena.
La vera sorpresa sta però a metà della seconda fase del disco e ne costituisce l’ossatura portante: è la title track, una cavalcata blu notte che nasce in seno a rumori e disturbi trans-umani per poi essere lentamente sovrastata da una scia armonica prima e da una linea melodica(!) poi, entrambe affidate a Roach. Una sorta di canto dal cuore più profondo del deserto, di trasposizione in chiave impressionista di un tribalismo ambientale fino ad oggi (e, in tutto il resto del disco, ancora oggi) immersivo per sua stessa definizione. Un tassello che mancava nella carriera di Roach, forse non sufficiente a convincere i detrattori del valore complessivo di un disco magistrale. Al solito, più del solito. Rating: 7.5 (very good) -Matteo Meda
Reviews Editor –
From Musique Machine
Likely my all-time most listened musician, synthesizer soundscape pioneer Steve Roach has released upwards of 70 full-lengths since beginning in 1982. He has grown no less prolific with age, and 2015 has already brought 2 releases within its first month: a longform space ambient track titled “Invisible”, and a new collaborative album with shamanic drummer Byron Metcalf.
To those who have heard The Serpent’s Lair or any of the other fantastic Roach/Metcalf collaboration albums, you know what you’re getting here. The purpose of this music is clearly not to make any kind of wild leap into new territory, rather to tunnel deeper than ever before into the same trance states, so as to uncover further natural and ancestral visions.
Monuments of Ecstacy, true to its title, is not a passive or quiet album by the standards of Roach, whose music I have fallen asleep to most every night for the last 5+ years. Metcalf’s drumming here is at times thunderous, and maintains a constant level of energy and circular hypnotic regularity. The rhythms he plays have such a smooth, repetitious character that it took me years to become fully appreciative of their details and his inhuman focus/stamina. The drums are frequently layered in several tracks all around the soundspace, adding a surreal surround effect to the organic timbres. All manner of dry, bone-like shakers and beaters can be heard in all octaves, spiralling about the listener.
The pairing of the insistent drumming and Roach’s vaporous, improvisatory synth swells results in a sense of legless momentum, of rushing at insane speed across massive vistas, the sort of sights only the mind’s eye can provide. Like many of Roach’s other recordings, this album is a powerful tool for any spiritual experience, an ally on your side in any dream battle.
Rob Thomas’ role is also apparently one of percussion, primarily, according to the liner notes, so he is likely responsible for a portion of the density in the rhythm section. However, I’m not familiar with his work, and the drumming here is not strongly different from any other Steve Roach/Byron Metcalf project, to my ears. Rob and Steve are both credited with didgeridoo, that mother of all drone instruments, which has been lending Roach’s music its ancient desert flavor ever since his ‘tribal’ phase in the early 90’s. Its sound is always welcome, and it’s played particularly rhythmically here, swelling with agility in time to the beat.
This is the most immediately gripping and intense music I’ve heard from Steve Roach since 2010’s Dream Tracker (also a collaboration with Metcalf). If you’re not already a fan, just know that this is an album of very authentic and cheese-free shamanic drumming and soundscapes, directly sourced and studied from various Native American and South American traditions. It stands powerfully well on its own merits, or as the natural continuance of the massive existential trip that comprises these musicians’ discographies. Rating: 5/5 -Josh Landry
Reviews Editor –
From Sequenzer Welten
Um es gleich vorweg zu nehmen…. die Monuments Of Ecstasy macht süchtig!!
Spannender Tribal-Ambient, kraftvoll, viel Rhythmus und mit ebenfalls viel Elektronik ausgestattet,transportiert uns auf musikalische Weise ins Reich der Extase. Und wer könnte dies besser umsetzen als Byron Metcalf mit seinen Freunden?!
Die schnelle Musik, unterstützt mit vielen Didgeridoosongs gräbt sich schnell in unsere Psyche ein und löst eine sehr euphorische Stimmung aus. Ich könnte mir sehr gut vorstellen, das die Musik sich auch sehr gut zu therapeutischen Zwecken einsetzen lässt. Klar, hier sind auch Musiker am Werk, die sehr gut in der Lage sind, den Hörer schnell in einen Trance-ähnlichen Zustand zu versetzen.
Echt der Wahnsinn, was man mit Rhythmus, Percussion und Didgeridoo so ausrichten kann. Und dazu die elektronisch erzeugten Athmosphären….. kein Wunder, dass die Musik solch eine Wirkung hat! Wirklich sehr beeindruckende Musik von Byron Metcalf, Steve Roach & Rob Thomas. Für meinen Geschmack die beste, die ich bisher von Byron kenne! -Uwe Sasse