by Tobias Fischer, Tokafi
Loren Nerell and Steve Roach have both been able to gather experience with using the world around us as inspiration for their art, so they know that recreating reality in the studio won't work: Nerell taped his INDONESIAN SOUNDSCAPES in 1999 and Roach, of course, has travelled the deserted rockscapes of Australia to come up with DREAMTIME RETURN, an album now considered a milestone and a classic. In both cases, though, what you heard wasn't a 1:1 conversion of their journeys, but the aural representation of a multisensory experience. So, for TERRAFORM, they have instead opted for building a galaxy from scratch.
It has resulted in being a place of incredible warmness, borderless vastitude, sudden atmospheric swings, wordless spirituality and of many different colors turning in slow motion like shimmering grains of sand inside an infinite kaleidoscope. For most of their duration, these pieces do not want to "go" anywhere, they just "are", existing and breathing in all of the detailed richness of a physical landscape, allowing the gaze of the listener to stray and inspect its structures, from the purple-tinged horizon, to the dense brushwoods of its rainforest and the lifelines of its lush and moistous green leaves. There is a sound of crickets running through almost all tracks like a beacon, assuring the wanderer of the safety of his trajectory by its presence and warning him inside the cavernous wastelands of its absence. Of course, all of these animal allusions, all of the noises, all of the swelling and congesting pads and liquid resonances are all highly artificial – once you start observing their characteristics in an intellectual fashion, there is not the slightest doubt that this is not a field recording, but in fact a collage of synthesized harmonies and effects. And yet it is this very unnaturalness which makes 30-minute long dreamstates like "Texture Wall" appear so "real" and three-dimensional; it is their approximational personality which allows one to take a step back from the immediate surroundings of the material world and enter the "Eccopoeisis" of Roach and Nerell. The mind closes the gaps the artists have consciously left behind in their trail, like wormholes into the wave-like majesty of the equally disturbing artwork by fellow musician Brian Parnham.
You can of course perceive the darker moments of TERRAFORM as a more eloquent form of Dark Ambient, but it is not a certain mood this album is after, but rather a mental state. When the usual laws of development are suspended, when time is left to linger and each musical motive is self-referential, everything takes on a new importance and realness. The worlds Nerell and Roach have built may not exist on any map. But their impact goes well beyond what can merely be perceived with one's ears.