Ratings and Reviews
Another fine album of ambient-space and Berlin School EM
On Molecules of Motion, ambient/electronic music veteran Steve Roach once again revisits the electrically dynamic, sequencer-based sound structures of prior albums such as Spiral Revelation and Life Sequence. Comprised of four tracks spanning approximately 74 minutes, Molecules of Motion is a compositionally rhythmic yet entirely drumless aural excursion crafted around seemingly ionic and illuminating currents. The opening title track, “Molecules of Motion”, fades in with fast-spinning sequencers in constant motion that seemingly pierce through a smoky veil like lightening flashing in a cloud. Metamorphosing continuously throughout, the piece effectively induces a trance-like state with its tenebrous timbres and subtly-shifting chord figures. Buzzing sequencer patterns ripple outwards on “Grace Meditation” of which seemingly create an electrically-charged environment, while the spaciously liquid-like “Phase Reverie” injects comparatively more sparseness between sequenced notes. The first two-thirds of the final piece, “Empath Current”, is sequencer-driven, while the remaining one-third of the track dissolves these elements into the composition’s serenely beautiful backdrop of spacey tonal fluctuations. Adding another impressive layer to Roach’s extensive and ever-evolving body of work, Molecules of Motion is another fine album in the field of both ambient-space and Berlin School mode of electronic music!
I've been listening to Steve Roach since "Structures in Silence"--music that simply doesn't age.
This is what you could call "Fast Roach," and it is his most musically complex, compelling, and powerful music; a real late-Beethoven musical statement (compare how Beethoven simply can't bring himself to end the 9th symphony with Roach fading away on 'Molecules," adieux, then comes back, again and again to the motif, which he has been twisting and sculpting for, what? He plays tricks both with time (inside the music and in your perception of it.
I don't think you will ever hear this music quite the same way from one play to the next--because it invites you descend into its tracks of synth lines, then drift out, sliding across the great washes of pure sound, then back in for another dive. This is music with colors--mauve, electric purple, thin glazes of cadmium yellow, washes of fern-green--it'll be different for you if you slump back and close your eyes, which have maybe seen too much of life and folly...haven't they?
About Steve Roach
A longstanding leader in contemporary electronic music, composer and multi-instrumentalist Steve Roach drew on the beauty and power of the Earth's landscapes to create lush, meditative soundscapes influential on the emergence of ambient and trance. Born in California in 1955, Roach -- inspired by the music of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Vangelis -- taught himself to play synthesizer at the age of 20. Debuting in 1982 with the album Now, his early work was quite reminiscent of his inspirations, but with 1984's Structures from Silence, his music began taking enormous strides. The album's expansive and mysterious atmosphere was partly inspired by the natural beauty of the southwestern U.S. Subsequent works, including 1986's three-volume Quiet Music series, honed Roach's approach, his dense, swirling textures and hypnotic rhythms akin to environmental sound sculptures.
In 1988, inspired by the Peter Weir film The Last Wave, Roach journeyed to the Australian outback, with field recordings of aboriginal life inspiring his acknowledged masterpiece, the double-album Dreamtime Return. A year later, he teamed with percussionist Michael Shrieve and guitarist David Torn for The Leaving Time, an experiment in ambient jazz. After relocating to the desert outskirts of Tucson, Arizona, Roach established his own recording studio, Timeroom. In the years to follow, he grew increasingly prolific, creating both as a solo artist and in tandem with acts including Robert Rich, Michael Stearns, Jorge Reyes, and Kevin Braheny -- in all, he recorded close to two-dozen major works in the '90s alone, all of them located at different points on the space-time continuum separating modern technology and primitive music. His album roster from that decade includes Strata (1991), Artifacts (1994), Well of Souls (1995), Amplexus (1997), and Dust to Dust (1998). Early Man was released on Projekt in early 2001, followed by one of his many collaborations with Vidna Obmana, Innerzone.
Throughout the remainder of the 2000s, Roach remained extremely prolific. His release schedule included the Projekt titles Trance Spirits (with Jeffrey Fayman) and the quadruple-disc Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces, Spirit Dome and Somewhere Else (with Obmana), Fever Dreams, Mantram, Nada Terma (with Byron Metcalf and Mark Seelig), the ongoing Immersion series, Arc of Passion, and Stream of Thought (with Erik Wøllo). He also self-released several titles on his own through Timeroom Editions. Over the next decade, Roach would show no signs of slowing as he continued with a nonstop slew of new material under his own name, as well as collaborations and soundtrack work. Though new volumes of work appeared at a rate of more than three albums per year, standouts included more collaborations with Byron Metcalf, 2013's Future Flows, 2014's disparate releases of arid road trip music on The Desert Collection, and ambient explorations of mortality and humanity on The Delicate Forever.
Roach began constructing an extensive analog modular synthesizer system in 2014, and in 2015 the album Skeleton Keys was composed entirely using this setup. In 2016, Roach released two full-lengths with Robert Logan (the more rhythmic Biosonic and the serene drone album Second Nature), as well as solo efforts This Place to Be and Shadow of Time. The ever prolific composer remained busy throughout 2017 with releases like Painting in the Dark, Fade to Gray, Spiral Revelation, and The Passing. In August of that year, Roach returned to the Projekt label with the long-form ambient work Long Thoughts. ~ Jason Ankeny
- La Mesa, CA
- February 16, 1955