Stream of Thought
by Phil Derby, Electroambient Space
A friend of mine and I, both Steve Roach fans, weren't sure what to think when we heard that Steve Roach and Erik Wøllo had collaborated on a new CD. We were having trouble imagining how their two differing styles would complement each other. I can happily and eagerly report that the resulting album, STREAM OF THOUGHT
, is fresh invigorating music that I doubt either man would have come up with on his own. The 19 parts to this constantly changing and ever-evolving work are captivating from the first hypnotic loops of "Part 1" to the 14-minute effervescent conclusion of "Part 19." Though repetitious, the first track is so entrancing that it barely seems to have started before it fades into near silence just ahead of "Part 2." This second part starts with soft ethereal floating, but a restless churning percussive sequence soon emerges over the top of it. Most tracks are very short, many only a minute or two, but these first two longer tracks do a great job of setting the mood early, pulling in the listener quickly along for the ride so that you are ready for anything that might come next. "Part 3" is smooth as glass and just as pretty. "Part 4" has a similar aggressive chugging quality to "Part 2" at first, but it soon subsides and turns into a dark haunter. "Part 5" sounds like alien machinery, very cool. At very few times does Wøllo's guitar make itself clearly known as such, although "Part 9" is a notable exception as his gentle strumming echoes among the atmospheric synth textures. Tracks alternate between moving, active numbers and subtler slower ones. Trying to describe the lovely nuances of each of the 19 tracks would be lengthy, difficult, and not nearly as compelling as listening for yourself, which I thoroughly recommend. STREAM OF THOUGHT
is one of the most pleasant surprises of 2008.
|Stream of Thought|
Steve Roach, Erik Wøllo
2008 Projekt PRO224 (CD)
Reviewed by All Music Guide, e/i magazine, Electroambient Space, Guts Of Darkness, MusicTAP, Sonic Curiosity, Sonic Immersion, Tokafi
The mind is a mystery of thoughts and fluidly-shifting collected memories. There are many thoughts which form complete stories, while others are mere threads with no beginning or ending. The flow of ideas is energetic, pulsating and often in dramatic contrast. In the same manner, STREAM OF THOUGHT escorts us with cinematic precision through the mind's uncountable destinations. Organic electronic and new ambient sonic boundaries effortlessly dissolve on STREAM OF THOUGHT.
With the combined experience of these two veteran electronic composers, this collaboration flows with an agility of emotion and intellect in fluid interplay; minimalist-inspired melodic tapestries, pulsing trance passages, deep drone drifts, and surreal soundscapes morph into cloud-like forms: a constant state of sonic evolution.
The results stand apart from the extended immersive long-form tracks of Steve's recent releases. While STREAM OF THOUGHT is presented as a continuous flow of 19 interconnected pieces, the metaphor of sitting on a stream's edge under full engagement with the present moment is the appropriate context to experience the fluid ebb and mercurial flow of this living, streaming soundworld.
Roach and Wøllo's similar age, musical inspirations and sonic inclinations - along with a mutual respect for each other's 25+ years of work - inform STREAM OF THOUGHT. Starting on two continents with two very different atmospheric conditions (the vast desert of Steve's Arizona and the icy solitude of Erik's homebase in Norway) this release began to take form in early 2007, as the composers traded musical ideas back and forth across long distances. The most formative aspect of the collaboration occurred in the summer of 2008 with Erik's visit to Steve's Timeroom studio in Arizona. Their week yielded the final recording, arrangement and editing. The approach to the album's structure was more like that of film editing, where a sense of time and pacing was consciously developed to activate a powerful visual/auditory reaction, a visceral experience.
STREAM OF THOUGHT explores the nuance of shifts within our perception. Segments of illumination juxtaposed with amorphous interludes and moving, flowing rhythm culminate in an unforgettable, shifting, dynamic experience. Relax and float downstream. Tranquil drifts, passionate rapids, midnight star gazing and blazing sunsets await. This is a vivid soundtrack for the senses designed to take the listener to the outer reaches of the imagination.
Presented as a 73-minute continuous flow.