Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Live Transmission - From The Drone Zone At Soma FM" 2xCD by Steve« on: September 07, 2013, 06:54:52 AM »
Steve Roach "Live Transmission - From The Drone Zone At Soma FM" 2xCD
This double CD, released by Projekt during August 2013, documents two-hour live performance from The Drone Zone radioshow at SomaFM at May 7th, famous commercial-free internet-only radio station based in San Francisco. Officially launched in February 2000, the Drone Zone was its first station. Hosted by Rusty Hodge, the founder of SomaFM.com. Planned and discussed for few years to create a first-time-ever live electronic transmission directly from the SomaFM headquarters, this live session followed only two days after Steve's concert at applauded AMBIcon 2013 festival in San Rafael, CA. Steve Roach traveled to the SomaFM's headquarters with a portable version of his Timeroom Studio. Listening to a live stream of this performance was for me a truly magical experience that still deeply resonates. Now, with this double CD each connoisseur of fine ambient soundscapes is able to transport these exceptional moments directly to his/her own listening environment. Packaged in elegant 6-panel digipak featuring 4 live photographs taken by Rusty Hodge. Additional credits for packaging include Dawn Wilson-Enoch for Spiral Fossil photo and Sam Rosenthal for graphic design.
22-minute long "In The Light Of Day" fires this unforgettable journey with gorgeously ebbing and flowing ethereal atmozone. Later on occasional crystalline rumble step in and awakes primordial shaman. Soon followed by gently invasive, locomoting tribal trance magics, enhanced by enigmatic breaths. Absolutely magnificent sonic travelogue, bridging cyber-reality with ancient excursion. With headphones on, the listener is immediately taken to the forefront of transcendental sonic realms, a true shamanistic powerhouse is back again!!! Most likely born on the ashes of lost piece "Light Of Day" from 2001. "Zone Of Drones" calms down, yet remains in mysterious chasm pervaded by soaring drones, colored here and there by high-tech fragments and guarded by distant phantasmagorical voice eeriness. The next piece, "Looking For Safety", unfolds with eternally majestic and grandiosely panoramic desert drifts, beautifully expanding and floating through warmly embracing cascades. Mesmerizing cyber-trance grooves join the stage and stunningly interact with evocative wide-screen stark landscapes, toward the end soothingly riding atop of whimsical flora and fauna. Ultra immersing, 14 and half minutes long aural bliss awaits!!! Ancient memories of magical "Dreamtime Return" revive... Amazing fujara sounds along with chirping birds and insects lead "Reflecting Chamber" (fujara source credit goes to Dirk Serries). I am always really proud when hearing this instrument in ambient music, because this majestic deep-bass overtone folk flute is a native instrument of Slovak shepherds, preserved over centuries in its original shape. Fujara slowly disappears, circling drone groan steps to the fore, but soon pristine, gently hypnotic tribal beat artistry (original source by Byron Metcalf) steals the show, shortly followed by didgeridoo barks. Intensely absorbing and powerfully magical aural perfection, welcome to the tribal ambient paradise!!! By the way, different, shorter version of this track appeared for the first time on phenomenal "Light Fantastic" album in 1999. The closing cut, "Kairos Portal", reveals through mysteriously spiraling drones, but soon softer luminous cyber-tech pulses invade and precisely amalgamate with backing monochromatic drone walls (originated from "Resonation Portal") and lead into fast-paced hypnotic culminations. Quite short, but splendidly expanding symbiotic mindscape!!! A superb one-hour CD, greatly polished in every detail with top-notch sound quality, certainly another proof why Steve Roach is one of the unquestionable giants of ambient genre. He did it again!!!
The second CD opens with "Vortex Immersion", a 32 and half minutes long composition, placidly meandering through softly gurgling cyber electronic realms. After 10 minutes trance rhythm slowly arise, move in ever-changing tempos, escalate into speedy locomotive-like movements and then fade out, while unpredictably coiling and twisting synthetic currents modulate and undulate continuously throughout. Beautifully hypnotic transitions, richly fragranced in intensity and movement, are deeply intriguing and vigorously adventurous. Electro-organic convergence at its most forceful!!! "Westwind" kicks attractively and actively with sharp and rapid sequence mingle, expanding, swirling, climaxing and orbiting in analogue heaven. Nearly 17 minutes of luxuriously energetic as well as gorgeously resonant brilliance!!! The original, slightly longer version of "Westwind" ignites fantastic "Proof Positive" album. The grand finale of second disc is provided by "Today", a very special composition, its original version was recorded live in the morning of February 16, 2013 and at the same day published as a download gift for all fans of Steve Roach. This date is also Steve's birthday and he recorded this track with his mobile live studio, which he set up for some days in the empty house in San Diego, where he grew up. Get ready for ultimate 17-minute listening excitement that is "Today"!!! Hauntingly expressive sparkling sequences precisely interact with utterly evocative floating and sweeping atmospheric splendor, tranquilizing cicadas emerge from the nocturnal stillness. Deeper drone shadows sneak in for the closing 6 minutes. This track masterfully captures profoundly evocative moments, where long buried memories awake and bridge with presence. Full immersion is guaranteed, a masterpiece!!! Now my dreams of "Life Sequence 2" are revealed...
"Live Transmission" is undoubtedly a crème de la crème of 2013!!! A truly monstrous, fully packed comprehensive double CD set gloriously documenting ingenious soundworlds by The Master unfolding in front of the attentive listener. Hats off to Steve Roach & Rusty Hodge!!!
Richard Gürtler (Sep 07, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)