by Mark Burbey, Alternative Press
Upon its release in 1988, DREAMTIME RETURN marked a turning point in Roach's journey as an artist and human being, and this anniversary edition celebrates the dawn of his career as the preeminent electronic visionary. As the planets fell into alignment and influences like Klaus Schulze fell away like spent booster rockets, Roach set upon a trajectory of personal discovery and artistic maturation. Created amidst a serendipitous sojourn to aboriginal Australia, the many moods and moments on this double-CD have basis in history and human experience.
Despite finding success within the ephemeral and often cloying new age community, Roach's music already stood far apart from the pedestrian meanderings of the many bandwagon jumpers who have since faded into oblivion. With STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE and the QUIET MUSIC series, Roach had tapped into the core of what is now known (and respected) as ambient and dark ambient music. Defining a genre that defies categorization and establishing a sonic signature that has been imitated but never replicated, Roach introduced didjeridu to his work and perfected the deep drones, hypnotic waves of synth and tribal rhythms that are the basis of not only transporting soundscapes, but the very essence of dark ambient music.
Roach's talent has evolved by leaps and bounds over the past decade, but DREAMTIME remains fresh and epic. The engulfing, 31-minute "Looking for Safety" draws one into an eerie, nocturnal realm of dreams and memory. "A Circular Ceremony" is a phenomenal track with only synth, rainstick and simple percussion, followed by "The Other Side," a beautifully weeping collaboration with Kevin Braheny. Piano and breathing tides of synth combine to make "Truth in Passing" mournfully soothing, while "Australian Dawn: The Quiet Earth Cries Inside" takes the planet's feelings wholly into account.
DREAMTIME RETURN took space / new age / ambient music to places even Brian Eno never dreamed of and it remains a landmark recording of extraordinary emotional resonance. It has endured as only classics stand the test of time, and may well be looked upon as the album that prevented new age music from following new wave music into the merciless void.