by John Diliberto, Amazon.com
Steve Roach has spent the last two decades charting a pathway into the primordial. With every album, you have the feeling of stumbling upon some ancient and secret ceremonial ritual. On MANTRAM he forges a fellowship with two other musicians. Mark Seelig's reverb-drenched bansuri flute is a nice addition to Roach's sound, almost bringing him back to melody. The Indian flute and a tamboura strummed ominously in the background give Roach an Eastern feel for the first time, but Byron Metcalf's frame drums turn MANTRAM toward a Persian groove that dances in cycling rhythmic figures. Painted on a broad canvas, Steve Roach's world is writ large with earth-shuddering textures, Metcalf's thundering frame drum, and Seelig's flute gliding like an avenging angel seeking a target. The constantly interweaving synthesizer, didgeridoo, harmonic singing, and tamboura churn in a surreal, slow motion dervish, spiraling down a labyrinthian ziggurat.