Long Thoughts is ambient music master Steve Roach’s first long-form electronic release on Projekt since 2012. In an era where a constant deluge of overstimulation from all directions challenges and fractalizes our attention span into smaller and smaller packets, 73-minute sanctuary provides solace: a soul-renewing immersion in the deeper end of the self-reflection pool.
Roach first imagined the foundation of this release in early 2016; over the last 15 months he lived and slept listening to the evolving versions of the album. This extended time frame with Long Thoughts supported a subtle, developing sense of the energy within the piece. A consummate evolution is important to Steve’s fully immersed micro-to-macro-soundsculpting approach. When experienced in looped infinite playback mode, the album creates a sense of constant, sustained nourishment to realign, reset, and soften the edges of modern life’s quantized thought process.
Long Thoughts is part of a larger body of acclaimed long-form pieces from Roach’s vast catalog. To the Threshold Of Silence, The Dream Circle, Slow Heat, Bloodmoon Rising and the six hours of the Immersion series are all part of the sonic DNA contained in Long Thoughts. Roach’s pioneering approach to the soundscape-drone-ambient artform draws from a rich harmonic tapestry of chordal interweaves and original sound design. Moving beyond the static form of drone music, Roach’s work in this area breathes and sighs with an organic wave that exists in its own dimension yet feels intimately familiar.
The music presents the listener with many ways to create their own Long Thought zone: gazing into the summer night sky, endless loop mode in the home at a low volume, direct engagement at a louder volume, used as a sleep environment, or for “holding of the space” as a kind of aural incense burning gently through the day and night.
As Roach enters his 4th decade as an artist of visionary soundworlds, his dedication to this artform presents a vital sanctuary of deep resonance and reflection.
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There are some words of wisdom for the potential listener to this on the inside of the sleeve: It’s created for infinite low volume playback listening. This could apply to about half of the recordings I’ve reviewed by Roach, especially those that are long-form pieces with no real breaks, whether indexed into multiple tracks, or not – as this one is, a single track of 73+ minutes. Quite often I have played these long-form pieces in replay mode from well before sundown until my morning alarm clock ritual ends it the next morning. It’s not something to be listened to intently, because the slow changes, evolutions and repetitions within the music are too slow and glacial to be appreciated on that level, but rather something to be absorbed slowly over time and drawn into the soul, like some kind of cosmic nourishment to realign and refresh one’s inner balance. The music on Long Thoughts is intensely textural, sparse on any sudden changes, and sort of flows around your body and mind seeping into all those crevices that the ongoing stresses, anxieties and overstimulation of daily life create routinely, releasing all that tension and opening the door to more measured and harmonically balanced approach to everyday life. You can play this once and feel your outlook change, play it twice and that change is further reinforced. Played in a continuous loop, a more sustained effect can be realized. Steve Roach has mastered this, and continues to produce recordings that beckon listeners to completely immerse themselves within. -Peter Thelen
Michael Hodgson –
A review by Michael Hodgson:
Defining American prog-electronic/ambient artist Steve Roach returns at the half-way point of 2017 with `Long Thoughts’, another of those slowly unwinding, ever-evolving, lightly psychedelic sound-collages that this master of the genres often delivers with impeccable precision and subtle taste. More along the lines of Roach’s `Immersion’ series of releases, his recent `Fade to Grey’ work or his four-volume `Bloodmoon Rising’ set, `Long Thoughts’ is a lengthy single continuous electronic aural canvas that weaves a hypnotic spell and concocts a distinctly mesmerizing atmosphere where time seems to blur and stretch on forever.
With no obvious themes or percussive elements appearing throughout this seventy-three minute piece, `Long Thoughts’ lurches to life as a drowsy and dream-like surreal electronic ambient soundtrack. An unceasing lulling drone at its core, eerie and lightly stormy thrumming reverberations are rippled with ringing crystalline shimmers and churning electronic caresses. Some moments take on an icy coolness, others a gentler lulling embrace, but all culminate in drifting pools of serenity and mystery, where the most minute of transitions happen so seamlessly they’re intangible.
Those after a modern Roach release with more melodic and rhythmic qualities a little closer to a firmer prog-electronic sound should perhaps head to `Skeleton Keys’, `Spiral Revelations’ or his Robert Logan collaboration `Biosonic’ first, alternatively those wanting a more approachable or varied example of the purer ambient styles he works in frequently these days might prefer recent discs like `Painting in the Dark’ or `Nostalgia for the Future’, released directly alongside this one.
But if you’re a fan of Mr Roach’s subtle and sedate long-form works, `Long Thoughts’ is undiluted, pure ambient music that still holds weight and quiet intelligence, and it will prove to be a great reward for the most patient of listeners, a piece that reminds us to step back and slow down in this busy fast-paced blur of a time we live in.
Reviews Editor –
From Sonic Immersion
During his decades-long career Steve Roach has composed lots of longform ambient for looped infinite low volume playback mode to wander off gently and disappear in. The completely freeform environment Long Thoughts is presented as a vital sanctuary of deep resonance and reflection to us humans as a constant deluge of overstimulation from all directions challenges and fractalizes our attention span into smaller and smaller packets in these modern times.
Soundwise, the continuous 73-minute sound sculpture of slow morphing textural waves and intrinsic power currents fit in the same league as the vast dronescapes Slow Heat, The Dream Circle and the tantalizing World’s Edge-track “To the Threshold Of Silence”, blending dark and light atmospheres seamlessly and in captivating form. As such -and I hereby quote the press-sheet-Long Thoughts provides a place of solace, offering a soul-renewing immersion in the deeper end of the self-reflection pool. This quality release is for the deep listening ambient aficionados among us. -Bert Strolenberg