Live at Grace Cathedral
by John Shanahan, Hypnagogue
April 2010

In his live performances, Steve Roach is known for upping the volume. He believes that you need to feel the music as well as hear it. That being said, on your first listen to the new two-disc LIVE AT GRACE CATHEDRAL, you'll want to crank it up a bit to get the feeling. Although it starts off softly, this live set from 2007 increases in intensity, swirling elements driving upward to peak before exhaling back down into a quiet-mind space. The first disc, "Embracing the Space," is the shorter of the two, a 45-minute set that begins with long pads that rise reverently to fill the cathedral. There's a distinct sacred music feel, almost choral in nature, to the beginning as Roach pays homage to the room by shaping his sounds into the space. In his press materials, Roach notes that the acoustics of the cathedral played a large part in how he proceeded, musically; he considered it a partner. In the middle of Part Two the intent shifts; sound snippets that cull memories of THE SERPENT'S LAIR and SPIRIT DOME creeping forth to spread shadowy lower-world tendrils. THE MAGNIFICENT VOID-style chords urge in, rumbling and glistening darkly through the air, pushing the space wide again. In the closing minutes, Roach introduces a subtle didgeridoo tone before a dust-devil wind spins up screaming, cutting everything off to a final hushed flow. Disc two, "Merging with Grace," is a full-length (73-minute) CD that kicks off with skittering, insectile sounds familiar from POSSIBLE PLANET before gliding down into another long stretch of quiet pads. Part Two of this disc may be the best section of the entire set, 25 absolutely engaging, drift-filled minutes where Roach builds a meditative soundbase which he then breathes life into with the didgeridoo, merging the electronic and the organic. The energy level rises, bring a sense of upward motion with analog synths evoking a feel similar to the middle portions of his last live release, LANDMASS. The final 12 minutes or so of this journey, coming after a rush that culminates in a nova-burst of sound, are as soft, cleansing and deep as QUIET MUSIC or STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE. Roach, having amped up the velocity, skillfully edges it downward into a perfect state of quietness. Remain in there as long as you need, until the resonance from this superb voyage fades. Then listen again. LIVE AT GRACE CATHEDRAL is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.

Live at Grace Cathedral

CD out of stock
Live at Grace Cathedral
Steve Roach
2010 Timeroom Editions 23 (CD) – double CD
Reviewed by Electroambient Space, Guts Of Darkness, Hypnagogue, Tokafi

An essential live recording revealing a powerful moment in Steve's live performance history. An extended set of sacred sonic spaces and immersive atmospherics embrace the senses within the expanse of San Francisco's Grace Cathedral.

In Steve's words: "Performing at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral was a dream come true in many ways, and a high point in my live performance memories over the last decade. It's a fitting release to commence the times. This will be the first live recording I've released with the natural reverberant sound of the performance space predominant in the mix. The expansive reverent ambience of Grace Cathedral is the perfect environment to experience this music within. To honor this space, I built a set that offered options to directly respond to the unique acoustic properties I knew I was heading into. The influence of the massive space and the spirit it contained were unseen collaborators holding the music and all of us in a dynamic embrace. From my performance location, I could hear and see the sounds constantly blooming outwards in the space hovering above the audience, collecting energy and then receding away within the expanse of the cathedral. I would spontaneously respond to this sense by shaping, carving, holding and releasing the music back into the void as the night evolved. Merging with Grace indeed.

"Because this recording utilizes microphones in the space, along with a small blend of the sound board mix, the audience is sometimes heard, as it's all a part of the living breathing space created that evening. I made the choice to not include any audience response or applause at the conclusion of the concert, since outside the live context, ending the recording into the deeper silence felt more appropriate." -- Steve Roach, January 2010

Disc 1
1. Embracing the SpaceMP343:21 
Disc 2
1. Merging with GraceMP373:08 

Note: MP3 excerpts are edited medleys.

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