SQ was a fantastic time. The meet n greet at the hotel on Friday was laid-back and great, with food & drink provided by our gracious hosts. From the moment you walked in, you felt welcome. Excellent chance to meet and put names to faces. Plus, the defining moment of the meet n greet was watching Steve Roach work the room with a tray of cookies.
As for the show...great sets from all. Loren started us off with some dark work, adding layers of gamelan to the mix. I particularly liked the stuff later in his set, some nice cave-born, shadowy atmospheres. Mark Seelig followed with his flutes and overtone singing, accompanied by mesmerizing, droney tamboura from Stefan Ford (whose name I hope I got right). Byron Metcalf found his way into the mix to add some clay-pot percussion. This set had more than a few people remarking that they had to "come back up" after. Personally speaking, I got myself into a deeply meditative state during this--and I usually can't meditate well for all the crap running around in my head. But I went deep, indeed.
A break, then, during which they introduced the new ImmersionStation iPhone app where you can mix your own Roach loops by manipulating five balls on-screen. In the half hour before the evening set began, they played part of the upcoming release by Roach & Brian Parnham. I only heard parts of it, but it's a desert-ambient style work that sounded great.
Erik Wollo kicked off the evening set by playing all of "Gateway." It was amazing to watch him get his programmed loops going, add guitar textures to the mix and then step back to play his melodies. I heard traces of David Gilmour in Erik's graceful playing. And if you haven't heard "Gateway" yet, you're doing yourself a disservice. Hearing it live only reinforced for me how strong this disc is. Amazing background graphics, by the way, playing off the beautiful CD cover.
And then it was Roach time. Steve charted a dynamic course through washes, analog bounce and soaring soundscapes. Metcalf joined him onstage to add frame drum and usher in the tribal section. From either wing, in came Dashmesh Khalsa and Brian Parnham, both hauling six-foot wide-belled didges to put the crowd in the middle of a space that echoed Nightbloom, Dream Tracker and Serpent's Lair. Both players at one point stepped out to let the other guide the flow. Parnham showcased his yelps and animal growls while Khalsa curled his breathwork from the bell in serpentine constructs. The didges went off, leaving Roach and Metcalf to work their long-standing alchemy in what one hopes was a tip toward their upcoming collaboration, which Byron told me will come from the same place as Serpent's Lair. Finally, it was just Steve winding it down from pulse to flow, at long last taking his hands from the controls and letting the last pad work through the room, finding its way through the applause.
This was a fantastic show. The crowd was sizable for an ambient gig--probably 150 or so for the afternoon session, swelling to easily twice that for the evening. Everybody just digging deep into the grooves, happy to be, for once, hanging in a crowd of folks who get it.