Streams & Currents
by Daniel L. Mitchell, Ink 19
January 2002

It's been a long time since I've taken the time to listen to an entire "atmospheric" record; when I was in my teens, I enjoyed atmospheric stuff, because I would read while taking in the sounds in the background. It's much different for me these days, but I must say there is true credibility to what Steve Roach is doing on STREAMS & CURRENTS.

The album, over 70 minutes long, is huge sonic wall of shimmery yet ghostly noises from guitars, e-bow tools, sounds loops, and drums. The music is very primal, and at times, tribal; this is the kind of music you might hear in your head if you were lost in a desert of snow in the dead of night. It's really quite beautiful, the sounds he makes with his guitar. Everything sounds very distant and it often sounds as if people are moaning in the distance... yet there moans are not of pain, but are of sheer, confused satisfaction.

The second track, "Spirit Moves," plods with a heavy bass drum line, while reverb laden guitars pluck strange chords from a thousand miles away. The fourth song, "Almost Touching" does well to keep from "almost touching" the listener; there's barely any sounds for the first five minutes! The last two tracks, "Ebb" and "Flow," also have very few sounds.

I'm not entirely sure why this record is so pleasant sounding... but it is. Keep in mind, though, that this record would be best used for reading, going to sleep, or other low impact things. I had never heard of Steve Roach before, but I do think I'll be checking out more of his stuff, and I think STREAMS & CURRENTS is worth a listen to open-minded music fans.

Streams & Currents

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CD  $15.00 
ON SALE, $5.00 
Streams & Currents
Steve Roach
2001 Projekt PRO128 (CD)
Reviewed by Alternate Music Press, Alternative Press,, Ambient Visions, AmbiEntrance, EMR Electronic Music Reviews, Ink 19, New Times L.A., Sonic Curiosity, StarVox, Tower Pulse!, Tower Records epulse

STREAMS & CURRENTS creates a sanctuary that is rarely found in today's music. The perfect atmosphere for contemplation and dreaming with eyes open, imbued with an ephemeral quality that seems to linger at the edge of conscious perception, creating an introspective, enveloping flow of mood-altering pieces. The album progresses into deeper, darker, warmer, and quieter zones, towards a beautiful submerged ending.

Do not expect jangly chords or ripping riffs, however, for Roach has filtered this guitarwork through a series of sound processors, rendering the strings into languid soundscapes that undulate timelessly through the air. These delicate tonalities drift like somber dust motes on aerial currents, guided into elongated harmonies by Roach's masterful ability to derive structure from sounds that teeter on the brink of silence.

For all its passive qualities, this music possesses an undercurrent of vitality. These calming aural moods are dense with seemingly endless textures and soothing drones, but their softness is subtly alive with a subdued agitation accountable to their guitar origins. While "pure" electronics display an unearthly resonance, in Roach's expert hands the guitar proves itself to be just as capable of filling the air with ethereal sound.

Where others may be satisfied to compile passages of raw scrapings and dreamy strumming, Roach treats the output of his guitars like an assortment of airborne mists, guiding these sonic vapors into introspective currents whose elegant contortions smoothly traverse space and time to generate a timeless zone of infinite expanse.

For the CD's epic piece, "Spirit Moves", a mantra beat has been added to the haunting strains, delivering the composition from higher atmospherics into realms that exhibit more humanity and substance. This quasi-tribal percussive presence is utilized only for the beginning of this 28 minute track, allowing moodiness to resume control of the patient flow.

Matt Howarth — Sonic Curiosity

1. Present Moment 7:52 
2. Spirit MovesMP328:37 
3. Slow Rising 14:38 
4. Almost TouchingMP313:56 
5. Ebb 4:52 
6. Flow 4:00 

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