« on: March 28, 2008, 02:00:23 PM »
It's kind of fun to rant about music. I can understand someone ripping on Roach's music, but with all due respect to Drone On, it seemed more like he was saying Roach was personally bs-ing the public about the 80 cds. It seems kind of petty that Roach would do that, and even though I know nothing of the man, I just don't feel he needs to 'cover up' bad sales by lying. I would feel differently if 'Ascension' were a crappy, lame release that I got tricked into buying, but it's actually an epically good work of music. Ultimately, though, I don't care about any personal foibles an artist displays in the 'business' end of their work...where it counts is in the final product, and Roach almost always delivers in spades...
As for the 'New Age' or not 'New Age', I think I would agree that sometimes the Roach titles and tracks and descriptions could be a little more subtle, but then again, most of the ambient big players have this same problem. But again, I think he names the songs after he makes the songs, and I imagine it is a bit difficult to give a name to some amorphous musical thought-form. I used to kind of deride whatever I thought 'New Age' was, and that was something I had to get over when I first got into Hearts of Space and Roach/Rich. But when I realized that the slightly cheesy covers/descriptions/track titles of an album like Strata actually hid a very intense, exploratory, and unclassifiable music, I started to loosen up about it. I really can appreciate as well Roach's dedication to the idea/practice/whatever of Shamanism. Though some might dismiss shamanism as a scam, the more you study into ancient cultures and their systems of logic and interior exploration, it reveals itself as a technology just like any other, which actually taps in and works with forces that are real, but perhaps beyond our normal understanding. But aside from that, it is not just a pose with Roach, he has really shown his dedication to it over the years.
Another funny aspect of this is that at root, Roach's music is quite dark and intense. If the average (what we might think) cheesy, shallow new age person bought one of his releases expecting a shower of shimmering, ineffectual spirit-pap, they might be in for a dark surprise. Roach really does get pretty outlandish, dark, and scary, and is not afraid to explore the concept to its fullest. Check this dude's (from ambientmusicguide.com, which dubs itself 'a guide to essential ambient and downtempo albums) review out:
During the 1980's Steve Roach albums were modest in number but consistent in quality. The 1990's and beyond are a different story. Literally dozens of solo and collaborative works have appeared since Sound Of The Earth and their appeal varies enormously. The most difficult of these tend to be works centred around the themes of palaeontology, shamanism and the primordial mind. The dominance of these themes marks a shift in focus from the outer worlds of his middle period music (eg. the impressionism of Western Spaces) to exploring the evolution of our own inner worlds. Unfortunately albums like Origins (1993), Artifacts (1994), The Magnificent Void (1996) and Early Man (2001) retreat into dark worlds of dissonance and strangeness where melody and harmony are virtually outlawed. The sound is one or a combination of rhythmic tribal elements, atonal soundscaping and grim atmospheres. It's fine in moderate doses, certainly, and some hardcore Roach fans swear by such works. But like most dark ambient they are an acquired taste and if you're a newcomer to his music, forget it.
So our man is now accused of being a filthy practitioner of the feared 'dark ambient'! What a joke! Seems one can't win if trying to please everyone. Happily, Roach plows forward, carving out his own sonic domain, seemingly oblivious to people calling him too dark or too new age...