Light Fantastic
by Scott Morrow, L.A. Weekly
December 1999


Early in his career, bold Steve Roach used to carry his electronic equipment down to places like the Lhasa Club here in L.A. In those days (early '80s), Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream were not obligatory signs of coolness for fans or critics. But now, if a critic doesn't cram Can into a review... While the Tangs' Edgar Froese and his 30-ish son crank out disc after disc of New Age wallpaper schmaltz that goes good with your ferns, Roach continues to refine the original German Kosmische aesthetic, making original, psychedelic music in his Arizona-desert studio. Admittedly, he's been releasing way too many discs (more than 20 under his name and over triple that in collaborations and appearances, all since 1990), so it's hard to find the good stuff. LIGHT FANTASTIC is the good stuff. Actually, it may be his best.

Roach has entered the computer world, leaving many of his sticks and stones behind, and he's 100 percent didgeridoo-free, too. Apparently his game plan was to apply dense layers of percussion shifting, pulsating and woven by complex computer controls to create washes of foreground patterns, while using his ambient-type colors as rhythms. He calls them "fractal mandala grooves," though you might prefer "sitars in space."

While Brian Eno's big leap into the computer realm, The Drop, sounded like a sixth-grader with an iMac and an extra hour at lunch, this is some of the most emotionally powerful new music, and certainly the most hallucinogenic, I've heard in a long time. Like Miles and his horn, Roach and his transistors conjure up feelings you might not even have known existed before, in a sort of romantic impressionist style. Among its moments of patent creepiness, there's an underlying crystalline beauty and serenity something we can always use a little more of.


Light Fantastic

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Light Fantastic
Steve Roach
1999 Hearts of Space 11094 (CD)
Reviewed by Gary Andrews, Brian Parnham, various listener comments, Billboard, L.A. Weekly, Muze, Progressive World, RhythmUS, SCI FI Magazine, Wind and Wire

LIGHT FANTASTIC does much to subvert one's expectations of musical structure, while remaining unabashedly beautiful throughout. Roach's soundworlds have never sounded more rich and full of light. On the other hand, the complexity of the 'fractal grooves' allows the hybrid percussion to assume what would be the melodic content of a given piece. The rhythms are as willful and intricate as an African drumming group or drum 'n' bass track, continually morphing from one pattern into another, describing animated moiré patterns in sound.
 
1. Trip the LightRealAudioMP38:34 
2. Breathing the PulseRealAudioMP35:25 
3. The Reflecting ChamberRealAudioMP37:05 
4. Touch the PearlRealAudioMP39:24 
5. Realm of RefractionRealAudioMP311:20 
6. The Luminous ReturnMP316:48 
 
-  Light Fantastic (medley)MP3 



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