1. Sit with Me 07:49
2. Rest of Life 22:55
3. Future Informing 09:46
4. Softly Spoken, Deeply Heard 16:37
5. Stream of Forever 16:42
6. The Knowing Place 01:00:14
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Echoes Radio’s March 2023 CD of the Month. Read John's review at the Echoes Website.
Emerging from a place of deep peace, expansiveness and renewal, Rest of Life is Steve Roach’s new 134-minute opus to quietude. With a graceful, nurturing quality expressed in five different reflective moods, Disc One is 70 minutes of impressionistic, emotion-infused electronic soundscapes. As Steve reflects, “I consciously tuned into the soul tone of Structures from Silence and Quiet Music. Not in a nostalgic sense but exploring and expressing where this feeling lives in me now in the depth of myself at this point in time. As stated in the Quiet Music release notes years ago, the essence of this deep listening occurs not only within the experience of the music itself but also within the place that you are after the music fades and you return to the silence, this rest of life.”
Disc Two, “The Knowing Place,” embraces a vast majestic textural landscape that plays with the unexpected harmony of chance and expanding time. The single, extended composition evolves over 60 minutes: gently ecstatic mystical spaces emerge and finally surrender to a deeper embrace of living, breathing, stately thematic chordal passages and melodic interweaves that include processed viola performed by Linda Kohanov. The spacious symphonic arc and emotional resonance of the track culminates in the re-emergence and blooming of the main “Knowing Place” theme returning to the source of a restorative journey, fully integrated and renewed.
“The title Rest of Life,” Steve reveals, “is drawn from my relationship to time itself. The priceless value of time and how we engage, rest, immerse, play with, step out of, create and love within our precious time on this planet. Every day I feel the Rest of Life revealing itself in subtle yet dramatic ways.”
As a pioneering cornerstone of ambient-atmospheric-electronic music, internationally-renowned artist Steve Roach has dedicated four decades to exploring myriad soundworlds that connect with a timeless source of inspiration.
Reviews Editor –
From Ambient Blog
I don’t think Steve Roach needs any further introduction. With his immense catalog (some 200 albums since 1982), he singlehandedly defined at least a part of the ambient genre: the ‘lush, meditative soundscapes’ originally inspired by the music of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Vangelis – but which has since then branched out to become a sub-genre of its own. If you are already familiar with his work, this new release may not bring new surprises. But ‘new surprises’ are not obligatory: more of a good thing can be rewarding enough too!
And Rest Of Life does not disappoint. The 2-CD release is Roach‘s ‘opus to quietude’. 134 Minutes of quietude, to be exact, with the shortest two tracks 8 and 10 minutes in length, two tracks around 17 minutes and one of 23. The Knowing Place – which also features Linda Kohanov playing the viola – takes up the entire second CD with its 60 minutes (and 15 seconds).
“… The essence of this deep listening occurs not only within the experience of the music itself but also within the place that you are after the music fades and you return to the silence, this rest of life.”
As for the title of this release, Roach reveals: “(It) is drawn from my relationship to time itself. The priceless value of time and how we engage, rest, immerse, play with, step out of, create and love within our precious time on this planet. Every day I feel the Rest of Life revealing itself in subtle yet dramatic ways.”
Reviews Editor –
From Star’s End
For those of us who know the midnight shining through our windows, and hear it beaming over our radios on STAR’S END, there are the releases of Steve Roach. Quietly captivating, his Rest of Life (134’03”) reaches the radiant receptivity to all things sacred found within enlightened audiences. Moving our minds in a familiar outward direction this album is thoroughly inspiriting, yet perpetually on the verge of sleep – that unique in-between realm which glows in the twisting and turning of mind and music. The six tracks are each a wonderful expression of ambience, texture and Roach’s potent sense of drama. Space is created, then filled with ever evolving sound. Shifting soundscapes and prone drones, then a gentle mental sequencer pattern, all expanding beneath reverberant synth notes – combine perfectly, and somehow build a distinctively ethereal atmosphere. Providing listeners with an impressive range of shaded moods and muted tones, we surrender to the stillness only rarely. Showing as much spirit as skill in the formation and execution of this dreamy realization, we also discover an artist striving towards perfection. By contributing to the world’s store of beauty Roach may enrich any space filled by Rest of Life. It plays like it belongs among the stars, but we will always discover the best parts of this work vibrating serenely inside our own selves. -Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END
Reviews Editor –
Earlier this year Roach’s Ambient Church New York City concert from June of last year was released for general consumption, an historic live recording from what has to be the perfect venue for this kind of immersive music. Now, only a few months later we have a new double-disc set of powerful studio recordings, the first disc featuring five shorter (relatively speaking) pieces of quiet, atmospheric yet colorful pieces of introspective ambient sounds, with a second disc featuring a single expansive long-form piece that stretches out to a full hour, slowly covering the listener with warmth and surreal moving textures, which is a good place to start.
Rest of Life refers to the composer’s relationship with time, and its priceless value within our time in this world, from moment to moment or further into the vast expanses of time. Disc two hosts “The Knowing Place,” the mysterious vast summit where all things are observable to the listener. Roach’s battery of synths are joined by guest cello as the piece unfolds before you in real time, stretching out into the unknown, the walls breathe and the floor buckles, and the ceiling opens to a beautiful starlit sky dripping with cosmic beauty; the cyclical nature of the soundworld elicits peace and wonderment, each cycle opening a deeper path into the mystical spiral, as the listener slowly lets go of all worldly baggage on their way to the sublime pinnacle of consciousness, After a solid hour of these massaging sound cycles, listeners will no doubt find themselves in a new space, a more relaxed and unconfined place.
The first disc contains a similar program of slower, evolutionary pieces that cast an atmosphere of dreamy colors and warmth, but without many of the dark textural elements found on the second disc, with a touch more sonic purity. The eight-minute opener “Sit with Me” sets the stage for the 23-minute title track that follows, a bouquet of soft pastel colors and shimmering cloudbursts that offer pleasure to all the senses as the piece slowly proceeds and eventually fades to black. With “Future Informing” the listener is treated to the sound of what seem like glacially expanded bells and gongs, giving the sense of distant sounds while walking on a frozen lake, with echoes coming in from all sides. The appropriately titled “Softly Spoken, Deeply Heard” is another long one, approaching seventeen minutes, mostly a very quiet adventure that blows in softly like a warm summer breeze, punctuated by colorful highlights. The disc one closer is “Stream of Forever,” another deep-listening piece that stretches out to an album side, a cyclical journey evoking stillness and calm, with soft sequenced sounds hovering just below the surface. In all, Rest of Life calls forth a gentle world of cosmic beauty that all fans of Roach’s music will want to immerse themselves in. -Peter Thelen
Reviews Editor –
From Musique Machine
The title of ambient pioneer Steve Roach’s latest masterpiece, Rest of Life, is a dead giveaway for what awaits listeners to this epic, slow-moving work, which clocks in at over two hours.
Rest, in one sense, is repose and that cannot be argued with – the work is restful, relaxed, and as soft as a warm blanket. The other meaning of rest is, of course, a remainder, that which is leftover, or, temporally, that which has yet to pass or be used up. The delicate and generative sweeps of Roach’s minimalist compositions engage – perform, even – both meanings of the work’s title. The music overtakes with a subtlety that is rare among contemporary practitioners of the genre. To “listen” to Rest of Life is to be plunged into a temporality that is entirely out of step with that of everyday experience, hurried along by tasks and goals that put one squarely on the path of a time pre-determined, all too aware of where things are headed and why.
Even those deeply skeptical of the experience economy will find themselves immersed in a kind of time that is both present and eternal, where you are both fully cognizant and yet totally freed from any specific object of contemplation. It would make sense to say that the shorter, preceding tracks on this release prepare you for the hour-long final track, “The Knowing Place”, but that isn’t exactly true. Heard in succession, there were moments when I wasn’t sure where I was in the album’s progression, and after confirming that I was in fact at the final track, I learned to stop worrying and just let it be. What might go missing in any perfunctory recapitulation of Rest of Life is the dissonance that results from repeated listenings, which cannot be attributed to Roach; rather, it is a necessary symptom of stepping out of the teleology of late capitalist time. I found myself wanting to return to the place I had experienced, not the specific turn of musical phrasing or the like. I don’t know if that is a compliment Roach would welcome, but it was unavoidable – the feeling of having escaped some internal, ideological structure of time while listening. But there it is, for better or worse.
Rest of Life moves and grows like an organic, autonomous being, and it might be overstating the obvious to say that there is a pain, or homesickness, that accompanies such a release. Unlike the plastic arts, which provide an object (or the conspicuous absence of one) to return to, music is bereft of the kind of dumb materiality that anchors and engenders experience. Amen. Roach knows this, and the sly fox, who has been at this for over four decades now, continues to turn ephemerality into something concrete.
Very highly recommended for fans of Roach’s previous works, and for anyone who is ready to hear what the rest holds. Rating: 5 out of 5 -Colin Lang
Reviews Editor –
Echoes Radio’s March 2023 CD of the Month
It takes a certain sensibility to create and perform music that moves at a pace that makes glaciers seem like rockets. Patience and a meticulous eye for deeply embedded detail are what’s required, rather than technique and flashy changes. Steve Roach has had that all along and you hear it in music like The Magnificent Void, Stillpoint and Quiet Music. And of course, you hear it in Structures from Silence. You won’t be wrong hearing echoes of that 1984 classic in Roach’s latest album, Rest of Life. Long synth pad chords arc slowly in a grand spectral dance of balletic giants. But right from the start there’s another element, perhaps a bit unsettling. Space echoes murmur at the edges, descending and rising like alien creatures casting luminescent patterns on the opening track, “Sit with Me.” At 7:50, it’s the shortest track and a gateway into the expanse of Rest of Life.
You won’t find any of the analog modular synthesizer wizardry that Roach has been exploring for the last decade. Instead, he returns to his ’80s arsenal including the Oberheim Xpander, Oberheim Ob-X8 and Solina String Synth. This was the sound of Structures. Layered and looping, chords waft through each other, transforming in languid pirouettes. On the title piece, the first long-form track, you feel like you’re gently moving through rooms that are translucent and interlocked, curved catacombs of mysterious hallucinations. This is the music of a dream state or deep psychedelic contemplation. This music exists not on a dance floor scale but on a cosmic swirling-in-slow-motion scale.
Floating through the slow, breath-like gasps of “Softly Spoken, Deeply Heard,” I imagined this is what the universe sounds and feels like to the Space Guild Navigators of Dune, threading their way through folded space, connecting galaxies.
“Stream of Forever” is the most active piece on the album, which isn’t saying much in terms of activity. It has the faintest of pulses and a return of that descending-ascending gurgle in track one. Stealthily, a gentle, ping-ponging melody emerges, carrying you through its 16-minute duration.
The second disc of the album is taken up by “The Knowing Place.” It’s a single, hour-long track, which is why it has its own disc. While much of the first disc uses a similar timbral palette on every song, “The Knowing Place” goes into a deeper, darker sound, moving in deep bass and string tones. Bathed in reverb and processing, you might think the strings are electronic, but , it’s actually Roach’s wife, Linda Kohanov. She’s been taking some time out of the saddle of her horses and been sitting down with her electric-viola. Using a Boomerang looper, she layers sensuous lines into repeating cycle, often transposing down into the cello range, giving “The Knowing Place” a shrouded undertow.
This is a darker, more melancholy track than the other disc. About 36-minutes in, it morphs into a swirling pool of glissando sounds cascading down from liquid dark skies. No sooner are you awash in it all, that a long, deep synth chord wipes it away almost to silence. But now there are still 21-minutes to go, as the track slowly dissipates with stretched chord sequences, again, echoing Structures from Silence.
You don’t listen to a Steve Roach album like this as much as immerse yourself in its undulating, organic manipulations. You could take Rest of Life as a drifty ambient soundscape or you could dig deeper into its layers and slow evolution while also casting your eyes out further into its epic expanse. -John Diliberto