|21 × 15 × 1.5 cm
On his 1993 recording, Origins (17081), Steve Roach explored the cracks between conscious and unconscious awareness, weaving a tale of primal mystery and musical sorcery through a compelling synthesis of ancient and modern aesthetics. As Darren Bergstein of i/e magazine observed, “Never before has Roach’s electronic surface felt so earthen and weathered; all of the assertive ambience and environmental dissonance he’s pressured up to now has reached its critical mass in Origins molten core.” With Artifacts, Roach delves deeper into his own sonic mythology expanding his skills on acoustic instruments and realizing a profound level of artistry on electronics. Roach’s obsession with the shifting of time finds form in his gift for creating trance-inducing rhythms that sound both primordial and futuristic. His rich, eternally swirling textures, seem to rise up from the darkness of the unconscious, bringing shards of long forgotten musical impulses to light once more. It’s as if he’s sifting through the soil of an ancient site, gathering fragments and piecing them together to reveal a new story that casts its shadow far beyond the present. Through it all, Roach reminds us that one day we, too, will be the artifacts in the minds of some future civilization.
Steve Roach – Artifacts
CD Review by Andy Busuttil
Primal and esoteric are the first thoughts that come to mind when listening to this CD. It’s a melange of synthesized music in the backdrop with a variety of instruments that were developed and used by Indigenous people from around the Globe coming in to occupy the foreground. Frog sounds and didge mixed with Korg and Emu synths blend to produce a sound that some would describe as ‘trance’, others ‘hypnotic’ or ‘sonorous’ and some others, perhaps less kind, ‘stupefying’. This album produced on the cusp of the analogue to digital revolution in 1994 and put out by Celestial Harmonies will likely appeal to those with very specific tastes. The tracks are a meandering trip that reflects the expanse of the desert and its monotony, especially to those of us with ‘Western eyes’ who are unable to appreciate the depth and complexity of its landscape. Having said that, the aficionados of electronica as a genre, will find this CD of some interest. Roach is reportedly one of the pioneers in the modern age of the electronica/acoustic bridge. From that perspective alone, listening to the near obsolete sounds of synthesizers, which in their time were fabulously expensive, woven in with ancient instruments that are now the vogue, such as the didgeridoo, is an interesting experience. In common with what I’ve heard of modern electronica, this music is arrhythmic yet has a pulse. There are some tracks such as ‘The Origin of Artifacts’ that for its 25-minute plus length demonstrate this admirably. Yet unless you are into slow weaving trance-like movements, this could never be described as a CD of dance music! In short, this is an interesting album as an object of study of a particular genre of music. I didn’t find it to be music to ‘lighten the soul’ or inspire. I found my mood darkening somewhat the further I got into it. But then again that’s me! I’ve never really been a fan of psychedelia or mind altering experiences either. But if you are, this is a ‘must have’.
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