Steve Roach: The Delicate Forever
Projekt Records

It wouldn't be unreasonable to think that Steve Roach might have been cowed by the prospect of fashioning a follow-up to the recent thirtieth anniversary reissue of Structures From Silence, which Projekt issued earlier this year in a three-disc package that supplemented the earlier work with recently created material. But, in fact, instead of being intimidated, the revisitation process he undertook for the reissue helped inspire him. According to Roach, “The Delicate Forever maps out a new phase in my current work, reaching further towards a deeper ineffable experience.”

Like discs two and three of Structures From Silence, The Delicate Forever was created using primarily analog equipment during 2013 and 2014 at the Timeroom in Southern Arizona. Classic Roach, The Delicate Forever reflects his current obsession with tonality and colour, and is as refined an example of his time-suspending ambient-electronic artistry as one might hope to find. Though five tracks are indexed and separately titled, the seventy-four-minute sound painting unfurls without pause, its tones and washes gently rising and falling like the breathing rhythms of a peacefully sleeping infant. The indexing is justified, however, as there are distinct changes in sound design from one track to the next, even if Roach executes the transitions so gradually the changes could go unnoticed by the less attentive listener. There's a clear difference between the subdued title track and the one that follows it, for example, with “The Well Spring” illuminating its vibrant landscape with a synthesizer presence that's comparatively brighter and more emphatic than the opener's. The brooding ambiance and haunted character of “Where the Mysteries Sleep,” on the other hand, clearly distances it from “The Well Spring,” while “Perfect Sky” introduces a church-like quality in its emphasis on organ-styled tones.

Ultimately, The Delicate Forever doesn't offer some radical reinvention of Roach's style, but long-time devotees probably wouldn't want it any other way. The album's simply the most up-to-date example of the man's musical artistry and one that presumably the Roach fan will be eager to add to his or her collection.

October 2014