The main draw of Steve Roach’s Journey of One is in knowing that what you’re hearing is a particular moment in time, an artist’s nexus point, a step in the evolution of their sound. Rising up from the groundwork laid by Dreamtime Return, Origins and Roach’s Suspended Memories collaborations with Jorge Reyes and Suso Saiz, Journey of One is a live expression of the dark, humid electro-acoustic tribal spaces that would become such a solid and recurring part of Roach’s sound from the 90s on. This live concert from 1996 wends its way through the chasms, caverns and caves of Roach’s lower-world sonic spelunking, urged on by hand percussion, growling didgeridoo and augmented vocal samples. (The flurry of voices mixed into tracks 3 and 4 of the first disc, along with laughter in track 7, are almost disturbingly trippy, and exactly as effective, I am sure, as Roach intended them to be.) The coursing electronic pulse beneath it all is a living river of sound, a sense of certainty in a constantly shifting space. To this end, Journey of One follows a format similar to some of his other live recordings, notably Live at Soundquest and Landmass; but this is the take-off point. If there have been other journeys where Roach escorted us across desolate stretches where hot winds skimmed across raspy dunes and downward into dank and forgotten serpent-mother caves, they started here. Later animalistic calls from the didgeridoo and the rhythmic windblown clatter of clay pots began here. Or, more to the point, they were solidified in this one ritual evening as Roach melted together and fused his analog-synth self from the 80s with the artist whose spirit had been opened somewhere in the Australian outback and who was finding vast desert vistas and ancient callings inside himself and creating the means to express it all in a visceral, live setting. Journey of One carries familiar sounds and the path is filled with deja vu moments for long-standing Roach listeners, but this is where the memories came from. This is the sound of a sound forming; this is the music of a turning point. Deep, shadowy, calling out to the tribe to come and follow, urging us all forward into this evolving space. The Roach we have now is testament to what the Roach of November, 1996, laid down as he began his Journey of One.
Available at Steve Roach’s web site.