2 Second Nature 31:51
3 Shadowspeak 6:54
4 Mystic Drift 22:34
Total Time 71:18
Available individually or in a sale-priced 2-pack
Co-creation across an ocean of shifting sonic paradigms
Pushing the boundaries of perception-expanding music, Steve Roach and Robert Logan release two vastly different transmissions of powerful emotion and exploration.
Biosonic’s elegant futurism and Second Nature’s romantic minimalism are distinct yet linked through a passion for engaging, subtle body-mind states. The former’s darkly ecstatic, deeply-layered, electro-neural atmosphere contrasts with the latter’s nuanced, sparse, ambient-atmospherics and processed-piano tone paintings.
Biosonic’s labyrinth of bio-electrical rhythmic pieces mixes with passages of deep drifting textural magnetism. Tracks possessed with intense fire and driving dynamism push down to the molecular level, while entrancing groovescapes inhabit new textural worlds of mind-expanding power. The music’s intention is ecstasy and intensity – like the frenzied rush of red blood cells, nerve impulses or the firing of pistons – such tendencies are balanced by an undercurrent of tranquility and yearning. This yearning finds a full embrace in the companion release Second Nature, a shadowplay of gentle reflection and repose. The tone and warmth of processed electric grand piano mixed with atmospheric synth textures are the grounding point for an emotive reflective watercourse of harmony, melody, texture and space woven together with an innate human sense of tension and release.
The journey that led to the creation of these albums is a story unto itself.
Twenty-eight-year-old England-based Logan has been a fan of sixty-one-year-old American ambient innovator Roach’s music since first discovering it at the age of thirteen. Logan’s father introduced electronic music into Logan’s life at a young age; soon thereafter, an Amazon search turned up Roach’s The Magnificent Void, a life-changing listening experience for the evolving artist.
Logan remembers, “I had been looking for nourishing, truly mysterious, deep-space music being carved out by current artists in modern studios; with Void, the album was everything I dreamed of and much more. As a teenager, I went on umpteen mind-bending, cosmic trips of the imagination to that album; I soon began collecting Steve’s music. It soundtracked many blissful journeys in the night travels across Europe.”
Logan’s father was a teacher, and he encouraged his students to draw pictures in response to albums he played for them. In the mid-2000’s he played Roach’s music, then collected the drawings and sent them to Roach along with a CD of Logan’s ambient music.
A correspondence grew between the two artists separated by more than thirty years of experience; the mutual appreciation was immediate. As Roach recalls, “I was instantly amazed upon hearing Robert’s first CD. His music was already emoting at a very high level that seemed well beyond his years. We began a long-distance collaboration fusing and morphing our approaches and unique languages into a new hybrid of electronic music.”
Over the course of four years, the two traded sound files with regular phone sessions and emails mapping out the vision and pieces that would become Biosonic. Logan and Roach describe the work, “Biosonic expresses a kinetic energy that drives the imagination channeled through the tools of hypersonic creation. The expressions rise up from the unconsciousness; the bio/machine-theme mushrooms outwards in this sonic fantasy. It emerges from the pulses and rhythms of the body while also diving consciously into expressing fractalized patterns which find parallel in the natural world, the universe and beyond. This is a vivid dream world for the bio-mechanical era where the lines between human and machine dissolve and reach moments of peak perception.”
In late 2015, Logan visited Roach’s Timehouse studio in Arizona for an intensive to put the finishing touches on the album; the creative session-environment inspired an entirely new project. A second album was created unexpectedly.
Roach says, “Second Nature emerged directly from instinct, the call and response to the moment between two artists interacting together in the studio for the first time. It’s a ‘less is more’ minimalist statement. The balance of ambiguity and quiet reflection is present in this set of pieces of fleeting emotional weight. I utilized the Timehouse studio as an instrument, working with my beloved vintage analog synths, live looping, mixing and effects processing. This created the opening for Robert to focus solely on playing processed electric grand piano; it evoked a new way of performing, drawing on his years of experience with the instrument. Over three days, the music emerged without hesitation. The album title perfectly speaks to the feeling we had with this process; it flowed forth as if by second nature.”
Biosonic and Second Nature are two powerful, distinct yet interconnected releases. While in dramatic contrast to each other, the potency of the music on these releases is a testament to the agility that exists between these two artists. It reveals their immediate response to a universe of emotion and stimulated mental states felt and expressed in this pure transmission. The music celebrates the energy of being fully alive, engaging the senses, opening to a vast and fascinating world of Biosonics: body, mind and heart sound art for TODAY.
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Reviews Editor –
Second Nature est la seconde collaboration entre le Londonien Robert Logan et Steve Roach. Le musicien de vingt-huit ans n’a jamais caché son admiration pour le maître américain, et les deux hommes ont correspondu pendant plusieurs années. Cet album est né de la visite de Logan au studio Timehouse (Arizona) de Roach. Ils étaient alors en train de finaliser Biosonic, lorsque l’inspiration leur est venue de poursuivre leur complicité artistique. Second Nature est un opus délicat, aérien, minimaliste, évoquant indubitablement les œuvres d’Harold Budd. Roach s’est chargé des synthétiseurs électroniques, des effets, des boucles, tandis que Logan était préposé au piano à queue électrique. L’union des sonorités est idéale, Roach parvient à mettre en place des textures ambient célestes et Logan nous entraîne dans une ronde cosmique éthérée avec ses notes réverbérées.
Le disque ne comporte que quatre titres, de longueurs très variables. « Second Nature » par exemple dépasse les trente minutes, et « Mystic Drift » les vingt minutes. « Moment’s Notice » ouvre le bal élégamment. Le piano atmosphérique de Logan fait des étincelles, remplissant l’espace efficacement, permettant de procurer à l’auditeur un état de plénitude totale. C’est foutrement beau et les nappes de Roach secondent parfaitement les efforts du Britannique. Luxe, calme et volupté est décidément leur devise. « Second Nature » est un morceau de bravoure. On assiste à un véritable ballet musical, entre volutes synthétiques spatiales et notes de piano subtiles. Le climat de la pièce tend à s’assombrir par moments, révélant ainsi la richesse de la composition. Peu de variations sont à relever, l’ensemble est flottant, les éléments sonores vont et viennent harmonieusement sans jamais tomber dans la niaiserie. « Shadowspeak » est court, mais symbolise le romantisme développé par les deux artistes sur Second Nature. « Mystic Drift » s’impose par son mystère et sa douceur. On perçoit de la mélancolie et même une forme de tension pendant un instant, mais l’ambiance est néanmoins toujours aussi paisible. Nous ne pouvons que saluer la magnificence extrême de cette musique d’un autre monde. Rating: 5/5
Reviews Editor –
Biosonic est le résultat de quatre ans d’échanges de fichiers sonores, d’entretiens par téléphone ou par courriel entre Logan et Roach ! Les deux hommes décrivent ainsi l’album : « Biosonic exprime une énergie cinétique qui actionne l’imagination canalisée grâce aux outils de la création hypersonique. » Comprenne qui pourra… Ce duo est efficace, il parvient à transcrire intelligemment ses idées futuristes. Dans l’ensemble l’opus est honnête, néanmoins il est un peu trop disparate. Les élans space ambient sont judicieux et permettent de se rasséréner, mais ils sont trop discrets. De plus, le mélange avec le tribalisme cher à Steve Roach n’est pas des plus heureux. On comprend bien l’idée d’associer l’organique au céleste, mais parfois un choix plus net entre les deux aurait été préférable. Les moments les plus réussis du disque se trouvent au début et à la fin.
« Desires : Birth » démarre pourtant de façon agitée, puis des nappes et un rythme tranquille arrivent. L’ambiance est détendue, chaleureuse, presque orientale, les musiciens lorgnent du côté du chill-out. Le titre s’achève par un schéma atmosphérique soyeux. « Amniotic Universe » est très long (vingt minutes) et ne varie presque pas. L’aspect spatial de la musique des musiciens est ici pleinement développé, mais il est perturbé par un motif ethnique répétitif. Finalement, les nappes dominent, concluant ainsi l’opus de manière sereine. « OmniGen » est raté : peu de variation, trop de pulsations, l’écoute est tendue. « Ecdysis Activation » est mystérieux, à la fois éthéré, subtil et évanescent, il propage une douce tiédeur. « Primal Confluence » est gorgé d’éclats synthétiques, Roach et Logan nous immergent dans un univers angoissant. Entre emphase ambient et trance contenue, on éprouve une sorte de malaise. « Erososphere » est sombre, brumeux et légèrement saturé. Sur « Atrium », la vigueur tribale revient, l’ambient est absente. Beaucoup de bruits divers sur « The Biomechanoid Lifecycle Revealed », qui se veut dark et presque expérimental. Enfin, « BioSense » est étrange, menaçant et acide, voire violent, une pièce plutôt moyenne. Du talent certes, mais au final ce disque manque un peu d’harmonie.
Reviews Editor –
From The Answer is in the Beat
Steve Roach’s all-modular Skeleton Keys album from last year won me over in a big way, and he’s never far from releasing a new album, so I’m excited to hear what’s coming next. He just simultaneously released two with younger UK musician Robert Logan. Biosonic is a blend of many different styles and approaches, with catalog’s worth of digital and analog synthesizers, sequencers, drum machines, you name it. It has its tribal trancey moments, some harder industrial ones, lots of glitching and intricate rhythmic patterns, lots of spacey drifting over everything. It’s really dense, really involved, and absolutely incredible. It feels like being in a giant warehouse full of machines, and every one of them is doing something different, and it’s easy to get lost trying to follow everything and figure out what they’re all doing. “Biosense” in particular is really rapid and complex, if I heard this blindly I would assume it was something on a post-Schematic netlabel. Pretty bonkers, and not the Steve Roach you might be expecting. The final track, “Amniotic Universe”, is 20 minutes long and gets pretty deep and droney after a while.
This is the space inhabited by Second Nature, a more “traditional” Roach ambient album. Four tracks, one of which is a half hour long. Slo-mo pianos, silvery shafts of light, a bit of darkness, but it’s all the name of reflection and solitude. Definitely not the ecstatic thrill ride that Biosonic is, but it’s certainly haunting and gorgeous, and worth sleeping to.
Reviews Editor –
From Prog Archives
The pairing of up-and-coming England-based electronic artist Robert Logan with progressive-electronic/ambient innovator Steve Roach delivered a superb futuristic fusion of ambience and experimental electronics with Biosonic in April 2016, and the duo also offer a completely separate release originating from the same sessions, Second Nature. Whereas the former was more-or-less a continuous seventy minute energetic and lively composition with an ever-changing pattern of programmed beats and loops, Second Nature offers four separate pieces in a much more subdued, intimate and purely long-form ambient mode, completely focused on piano and restrained use of electronics.
While some sections are more recognizable in style to many of Roach’s numerous other recent works, Robert Logan provides crucial contributions such as his glistening, heart-breaking echoing piano that glides in and out of Steve’s floating serene drones. If Biosonic had a frequently moving alien-like quality, Second Nature removes all percussive elements entirely and is stark and precious in comparison, very much a reflective and grounded fragile inner journey. Both of the musicians personal contributions and individual musical voices can instantly be heard, not only truly complimenting each-other, but working in perfect unison together to create an evocative, unhurried soundtrack, sometimes even desolate and lonely but always with traces of hope and light breaking through in the most crucial moments.
Robert’s precious ghostly tip-toeing piano hovers in the air as Steve’s gentle lulling synth caresses drift in and out of opener `Moment’s Notice’, a wistful and sadly romantic opener with fleeting pinpricks of warmth to the gentle melancholy and uncertainty. Initially calling to mind the pristine black and white piano shimmerings of Roach’s Etheric Imprints from back in 2015, the title track Second Nature is a dense half-hour aural collage where elements of dark and light weave around each- other trying to gain supremacy. Delicate waves of synths – some forceful, others soothing – permeate the air, with brief gloomy slivers cutting the atmosphere and fleeting glimpses of a victorious piano theme attempt to rise and take hold. The shorter `Shadowspeak’ almost entirely strips back the electronics for a crystalline solo piano interlude with downbeat notes occasionally creeping into the mix, and the twenty two minute finale `Mystic Drift’ holds groaning cavernous drones and spectral piano with calmer breezes of synths softly attempting to push away the cloudy unrest, all with an eerie cinematic elegance.
A sometimes intangible and even confronting work, some will find Second Nature patience-testing, others will be totally captivated by it, witness to the way it completely alters the environment around them, a quality that so few albums can actually achieve. It grows in power and presence with every listen, gradually revealing so many understated little layers and the most deeply personal reflections, and it reminds that sometimes the most shadowy music reveals the deepest beauty. While it’s hardly easy listening, Second Nature is truly an exercise in darkly exquisite sophistication, and one of the most challenging Roach-related releases of recent years. It makes for two superb side-by-side works from the pairing of Logan and Roach, and hopefully the results from further collaborations between the two will be equally as vital. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reviews Editor –
An interesting backstory accompanies these latest additions to Steve Roach’s ever-swelling discography. When he was thirteen years old, the now twenty-eight-year-old Robert Logan was introduced to electronic music by his English father. A subsequent investigation brought the teenager to Roach’s The Magnificent Void, a discovery that turned out to be life-changing. Logan’s teacher father played a further role in this scenario when he sent drawings his students had made while listening to Roach’s music to the composer and included in the package a CD of his son’s ambient work. Impressed by what he heard, Roach—older by more than thirty years—contacted the young composer and subsequently engaged in an across-the-ocean correspondence that would grow into Biosonic, the first of two electronic music collaborations between them.
Four years trading sound files eventually led to a late-2015 visit by Logan to Roach’s fabled Timehouse studio in Arizona to add finishing touches to the album, during which time something unexpected happened: the creation of an entire other album, Second Nature, one markedly different in spirit from the first. To say that his collaborative involvement with Logan had an invigorating effect on Roach might be inaccurate—as his recent solo releases show, he hardly needs outside stimulation to be productive—though one could say the partnership helped bring about a particularly energized collection. Certainly the seventy-minute Biosonic is infused with a kinetic drive conspicuously greater than the Roach norm, and that the recording stands apart from others in his catalogue is intimated by the H.R. Giger-esque imagery on its covers (the album’s Cyborgian theme also is consistent with the kind of vision we associate with the Swiss artist/conceptualist).
In fact, it would be more correct to file Biosonic under electronica than ambient. In this wide-ranging, nine-track travelogue, pieces are powered by an aggressive mix of beats and melodies, and the album material often operates at an hyperactive, even frenetic level of electrically charged dynamism—not exactly the kind of thing we expect from Roach. The muscular rhythmic attack roaring through “Atrium” and “Biosense,” to cite two examples, might come as a surprise to listeners accustomed to his long-form ambient productions. That being said, certain earmarks of his style are evident, among them undercurrents of primal-futurism and a strong focus on textural richness, but there’s no denying the presence of less characteristic traits such as ecstatic intensity and Dionysian wildness. It would appear that Logan has been instrumental in bringing such qualities to the fore. As far as gear is concerned, synthesizers (analog and digital), drum machines, sequencers, outboard processing, and field recordings were all deployed in the album’s production, and in true Roach spirit the recording ends with a twenty-minute setting, “Amniotic Universe,” that’s characteristically immersive and emblematic of the deep ambient style associated with the composer.
That closing Biosonic piece acts as a natural bridge to Second Nature, even if the second set’s pitched at a quieter level than “Amniotic Universe.” Four settings are featured in this case, two relatively short and two long, the title track a thirty-two-minute epic. The production period for this companion release was short, three days to be precise, and the material veritably flowed from the duo as if by instinct. With Logan manning an electric grand piano and Roach on synthesizers, sequencers, live looping, and processing, the recording calls to mind the collaborative work done by Harold Budd and Eno decades ago. For slightly more than seventy minutes, warm, muted hues of piano blend with gauzy synthesizer textures in minimal tone paintings of peaceful, soul-cleansing character. The music shimmers incandescently in place for minutes on end, Logan ruminating unhurriedly and Roach tinting his partner’s piano with synthetic colourations. It’s all as subdued as one might imagine, with the closing “Mystic Drift” the one that most suggests a slow-motion swim in unconscious waters. For those with an appetite for time suspension in a musical form, Second Nature should prove a satisfying meal indeed; it’s certainly a dramatically contrasting companion to its high-energy sibling.
Reviews Editor –
From Prog Archives
Progressive-electronic/ambient innovator Steve Roach begins 2016 in fascinating forth, releasing two very different collaboration works with up-and-coming England-based electronic artist Robert Logan, the first of which is Biosonic. Nearly thirty years in age separates the two musicians, but a mutual appreciation of each other’s work resulted in the pair trading samples of sound-files over a four year period and eventually meeting in person to complete the music offered on these two discs (the other being Second Nature). Biosonic presents these two distinct electronic voices not only truly complimenting each other, but perfectly working in unison to deliver an ever-evolving sound-work that takes their music in exciting new directions.
Despite being indexed into nine tracks, Biosonic is really one single seventy-minute constantly morphing aural collage, where fluid, ethereal synth washes rise, fall and twist around an ever-changing pattern of programmed beats and electronic loops. It’s energetic and lively, constantly moving, even playful in a few spots, pulsing with subtle grooves and floating on mysterious moods. Surprising moments of dub, drum n’ bass and even darkly futuristic psy-trance elements intermingle with the stillness and freeform drift of pure ambient atmospheres, and where what might have once been earthy tribal elements in the past take on an alien monolithic hardness instead.
The surprises start right from the opening passage `Desires: Birth’, an up-tempo dash of liquid shimmerings and twitching electronic glitches with joyful upfront synth soloing rolling in and out, giving way to `OmniGen’s skittering beats and intimidating industrial-like heaviness. A calming respite arrives with the soothing caresses of `Ecdysis Actrivation’ with faraway approaching beats bubbling under, churning slabs permeate barren aural expanses throughout `Primal Confluence’, equally pretty and drowsy drones are laced with fleeting harsher split-second slivers in `Erosophere’, and `Atrium’ is an addictive disorientating darkly grooving meltdown.
The ten-minute segment `The Biomechanoid Lifecycle Revealed’ is one of the true highlights, effortlessly cool and darkly slinking chilled grooves murmuring seductively behind hallucinogenic rising synths veils, even flirting with moments of dub. The up-tempo attacking `Biosense’ is maddening and suffocating machine violence that perfectly soundtracks the faintly H.R.Giger-esque album cover art that suggests a fusion of mechanical, alien and organic. The album is stripped back to pure celestial ambience for the final twenty-plus minute passage `Amniotic Universe’, where cinematic elegance merges with the dreamiest of deep-drifting glacial environments.
Initially a little overwhelming due to the plentiful variety of sounds and moods, careful close listens in an unhurried environment (preferably with headphones) reveal an addictive work with endless delicate little details and intricate subtleties. While there’s plenty of Roach’s instantly recognisable ambient elements throughout, the constantly contorting, mutating variety of percussive elements weaving in and out of much of the album may by a challenge for those who prefer the more still, carefully-paced nature of much of his modern music, but there is still plenty of that for patient listeners to discover. Steve Roach’s music hardly ever sounds dated (if anything it actually exists completely outside of dating fads or any ideas of musical trends), but collaborating with Robert Logan here has delivered one of his most modern sounding and cutting-edge electronic works for some time, their pairing-up on this dark-tinged futuristic soundworld hinting at a multitude of unfamiliar possibilities waiting to be explored. Rating: 4/5