Deep Sonic Space


Pioneering and stellar ambient music creator, Steve Roach

Part III. Here is where my recollection of musical influence and inspiration gets interesting–to me. When I returned to Cleveland in 1992, one of the first resources I tapped into was the two fabulous library systems. This happens before the internet, and even commenced about a year before Cleveland Public Library got rid of their vinyl records. Also, this era (of my listening,) in Cleveland was greatly advantaged by the local used record and CD scene. (I obviously didn’t know at the time record retail would implode in Cleveland within 10 years.) But, at the time almost all my listening time was invested in jazz.

This would change very quickly because the cost of a music trial via borrowing from the library was minimal, and, the potential for a rewarding listening experience was great. For the next ten years, including my five year stint in record retail, I set in motion a huge process of discovery that roamed over the world of music. Whilst I had scratched the surface–outside of rock–in all sorts of locations, (ie. genres,) for the previous decade, upon returning to Cleveland, it was on.

Except, not everything hits one’s aural radar screen. Until you take a flyer. The flyer in this case was taken on a CD by the American instrumentalist, composer and sound designer Steve Roach. It’s spoke to me from the rank it occupied on a to-be-shelved cart at the Mayfield Heights Branch. I pulled it out. Its cover was intriguing.

Listening to Roach (Wikipedia) for the first time, I was amazed. On one hand, here was sound akin to my favored The Deep Listening Band, on the other hand here was also something unhinged from new age music. (I did not like new age music!) Familiar as I was with Stockhausen and Ligeti and Vetter and Hykes and others, Dreamtime Return seemed to me to be experimental and ambitious. And, I really like ambitious experiments!

In my estimation Dreamtime Return, four years past its release by the time I heard it in 1992, is Roach’s first complete masterwork. Although working backward through his discography circa 1992 was enjoyable enough, as it happened, Steve Roach was about to go on a roll, one that continues to this day. He’s made a mountain of brilliant music and produced many other masterworks. His collaborations with Vidna Obmana and Vir Unis opened the door to a huge wellspring of deep ambient music from Europe.

A huge influence is putting it mildly. One more thing, Steve Roach is equally accomplished as a 21st century entrepreneur, nailing down an enlightening web presence and a DIY ethos years before the scramble along the same lines was unleashed.

Steve Roach – The Magnificent Void – desert island disc for me – hard to pick just one – steveroach.com


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