Streams & Currents
by Jim Brenholts, Ambient Visions
December 2001

Steve Roach sets his own musical limits. Then he exceeds them. MIDNIGHT MOON was a landmark release for Steve. It opened his doorway to his processed guitar soundworlds.

Steve recorded STREAMS & CURRENTS late at night during the final CORE sessions. He went back to the uniqueness of the guitar. This album, on Projekt, features guitars, Ebow and looping and processing equipment. Track two, "Spirit Moves", also features a "mantra beat".

The CD was "created for low volume continuous playback". It is wonderful in that mode. The subtleties and nuances have their greatest effect with focused listening. Low volume and continuous play yield the most intense listening.

Focused listening has multiple rewards. Deep listeners will feel the biorhythmic pull of the vast atmospheres that Steve has designed. And too little has been written about the accuracy of Steve's titles and their relationship to the responses to the music. He has titled this disc and its components perfectly!

The opening title, "Present Moment", sets the focus on the here and now. Track two, "Spirit Moves", begins the journey. The first leg of the journey, "Slow Rising", unfolds languidly and dreamily. Wanderers nearly achieve the goal on "Almost Touching", track four. Track five, "Ebb", reminds listeners that change and the unexpected are inevitable. The finale, "Flow", completes the circle as the journey ends and continues.

So the ceiling of Steve's perpendicular universe has been lifted once again. And there are more soundworlds and musical universes for him to master. He just has to define them!

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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