Fever Dreams III
by John Shanahan, Hypnagogue
In this last installment of the FEVER DREAMS trilogy, Steve Roach smoothly blends tribal intentions with electro-funk grooves to create a journeying soundtrack for the 21st-century wired shaman.
The ride opens with the pulse and flow of "Electro-Erotic," familiar FEVER DREAMS territory, with quavering guitar sighs, slow-beat drums and subtle hints of the more bare-bones, pure electronic augmentation to come. It ferries us into "Meta-Sense," one of the best individual pieces to come out of the Timeroom in a while. It is an 18-minute trip -- with all that word entails -- through a bouncing analog rhythm spiced with long, sustained synth pads and tidbits of electronic percussion. A psychotropic, hallucinogenic, hypnotic journey at speed to the lower world and back. "Meta-Sense" gives way to "Polyopsia," which echoes the percussive urgency of "Energy Well" from HOLDING THE SPACE: FEVER DREAMS II and directs the disc to a shadowy place. That feel carries through the slow drift of "Pulse Current" and lightens up across the breadth of its faster-paced follow-up, "Pulse Impulse." After the surging urgency of "Borderlands," "Moonshroud" rolls in, picking up the bass feel from the early tracks of FEVER DREAMS, a callback that rises like primitive memory. (Admittedly, it's probably easier to note if you listen to all the FEVER DREAMS discs in succession, as I recently did.) That same bass line can be sensed, albeit manipulated, twisted, and drenched in atmospheric electronic murk, in the closing track, "Phantom Fever Rising." Halfway through, this piece strikes for the surface, beginning to shimmer and drawing quiet breath and bringing the first disc to a meditative end.
The second disc -- the end of the journey, if you will -- is an hour-plus glide through shamanic soundscapes courtesy of Byron Metcalf's drumming and burbling aural imagery from Roach. I'm tempted to say it's Metcalf's show as the drums take the forefront and hold their place, but under the beats Roach is again blending touches and feels not just from the FEVER DREAMS discs before, but from his entire arsenal of sounds, breeding an odd sense of familiarity while at the same time taking the listener to entirely new realms. The point, really, is to simply surrender to "Melted Mantra" and let it guide you where it will. Enjoy the ride.
This double-CD set is a perfect close to the series, and it will garner a lot of repeat play.