1 Slow Heat 71:14
Slow Heat 71:14
20th Anniversary Remastered Edition
Remastered in 2018 by Howard Givens
Timeroom Legacy Edition of 500
Slow Heat was the premier release on Steve Roach’s personal Timeroom Editions label, which has now grown to 45 releases. This 1998 long-form zone represents an early example of Steve’s infinite playback soundworld environments explored on The Dream Circle and since developed into a substantial area in his vast body of work.
Slow Heat breathes in and exhales a constant flow of calming influence and serenity directly extracted from Steve’s desert habitat. Shaped over two summers of evaluation on his playback system wired to the outside patio, the natural environment of the simmering Sonoran nights were found to be in perfect harmony with the Slow Heat atmosphere. By running microphones fifty feet from the Timeroom out into the desert night, a pure moment of natural magic was captured and woven into Slow Heat. Perhaps no other of Steve’s long-form pieces has placed the listener in such an intimate and subtle expression of the sensual, expansive nature of the desert atmosphere.
This 2018 remaster by Howard Givens fine-tunes this piece to a new level by utilizing the advancements of audio mastering technology revealing the deeper, spacial qualities at a sublime level.
Steve Writes: “Slow Heat evolved from the atmosphere of my habitat. During the stillness of the summer days, the heat makes everything quiet in a simmering sort of way. Early stages of ‘the Heat’ would often play on the outside speakers into the night world, creating a subtle link between the extremes of this ‘zone’ and its influence upon the creative impulse. The cover artwork, Andy McIntire, was inspired by Slow Heat, and in turn influenced the feel of the final mix. The night-time desert sounds were recorded outside the Timeroom in the Dream Circle, a circular sitting area for contemplation consisting of stones and a small pond. I created this space after completing The Magnificent Void, when the urge to use my hands in a different way was needed. Moving rocks around to mould this space was a good way to return from the long hours creating the Void. Soon after completing it, a host of desert frogs moved in, along with a constant display of other activity within this small sanctuary viewable from the Timeroom window. The soundworld was created for continious, lower volume playback. If you have more than one copy, experiment playing other Slow Heats at low volume levels in different rooms of your living space simultaneously.”
A review by Andy Waggoner from Interface Magazine #14
The first CD release from Steve Roach’s own Timeroom Editions. Slow Heat is a remarkable experience. So few musicians ever truly deserve the title “artist” and Roach is definitely one of them. His work is insightful and exploratory, two characteristics that I feel separate art from product. While it would be easy to simply label the music here ambient, reflect on its subtle and beautiful nature, and recommend that you order it, more needs to be said about this piece of work from a truly great sound and music sculptor. Slow Heat is an exploration into the desert that surrounds Roach’s home in Arizona; from the interaction of the sounds that Roach produces electronically with the sounds that the desert produces instinctively, to the aural interpretations of the heat that the sdesert radiates and the effect it has on its inhabitants. For the entire CD, which is a single track designed to be played on repeat at low levels (although I found at high volumes it had a rather intense effect as well), Roach uses sweeps, washes, and reverbs, along with the sound of the desert night, to reveal and explore the soul of the desert. As fitting a soundtrack to a mental journey as you will find.
From Musique Machine
Slow Heat is a long-form, yet subtle shifting desert-themed example of ambience from US ambient legend Steve Roach. This is a 2018 CD release of an original 1998 work- it appears on Roach’s own label TimeRoom Editions, in an edition of 500 copies- which takes in a digipak case, taking in decidedly moody pictures of the Arizona desert.
The disc takes in a single seventy one minute track- and sonically I’d compare it to one of the more layered, carefully ebbing & flowing, yet at times fairly psychedelic tracks off an album like Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces – but with very subdued/ barely there ethno-ambient touches. So while it’s lengthy I wouldn’t class this among Roach’s deeper/ yet pared-back long-form tracks.
The piece opens with the fading in sounds of the desert wildlife- taking in the likes cicadas, birds and insects- to begin with under this Roach builds a warming, yet glowing sweeping & hovering drone. As the track progresses the desert sounds pare back, and he starts creating gentle swirling & ebbing sonic cloud like layers of gliding, hovering, and gently sweep tone- beneath this you just make out the touches of a majestic melody. As we make our way through the piece Roach pulls us in to fairly rising & ringing builds which are underfed by lightly twinkling & rustling detail. Before backing down to more pared-back blends of just there drone warmth and gentle cicada/ethno detail, or moving into slowly expanding & reverberation low-to-mid tone cascades.
At times the higher-pitched elements do get quite intense & penetrating for ambient music, but these add an interesting edge to the proceeding- and of course most importantly nicely enhances the desert heat theme of the piece. On the whole Slow Heat is another worthy long-form ambient work from Mr. Roach, which sees him subtle playing/ experimental with the form it some quite interesting ways. -Roger Batty
I’m happy to say that I have most of the Steve Roach back catalog, and have listened to all of those many times over the years, sometimes even leaving them play in an endless loops for days for the sake of total immersion (yeah, my family doesn’t understand my fascination with this long-form electronic music), but I was missing a few titles here and there, Slow Heat being one of them. Now, with this 20th Anniversary remaster in hand, I am missing one less. Rising out of the darkness like the pre-dawn light in the morning sky through the dense trees of the forest, this single flowing 71 minute track wraps the listener with a blanket of warmth, slowly growing out of nothingness and making its presence felt as it evolves through a kaleidoscope of changes. The late 90s was a time when Roach was working a number of collaborations with the likes of VidnaObmana, Roger King, and others, and at the same time working on the concept of infinite playback soundworld environments, of which this is a classic example from that period. Sound seems to converge on the listener from every direction, flowing synth washes inhaling and exhaling while a number of texural fabrics and seemingly subsonic waves merge with it all, plus the coming and going of interesting natural sounds, most likely field recordings (one can hear the beautiful sound of crickets and other insects in the desert night in various parts) that interact with the ongoing flow as the piece proceeds. Since I haven’t heard the 1998 original, I am at a loss to say exactly what the new remastering has brought forth, but the fine tuning was done by none other than Spotted Peccary’s Howard Givens, so you know it’s going to sound exceptional. No matter how close you listen to this, whether as background while you work or relax, or in a darkened room with headphones, Slow Heat will leave the listener a changed and more highly evolved person at the end, as it fades back into the darkness. -Peter Thelen