Before it even begins, The Ancestor Circle has its own air of mystery. The source material comes from “cryptically marked tapes” Roach found in his studio in 2013. Turns out that these were recordings Roach made with Jorge Reyes in 2000, at the time of their collaboration Vine~Bark & Spore, prior to a concert in Tucson. The Ancestor Circle recaptures what may be my personal favorite collaborative chemistry in the Roach catalog, the deeply primitive, ritual-driven desert-ambient meditations. This is the sound-set that forms the basis of some of my go-to albums, including the superb Suspended Memories outings featuring Roach, Reyes, and guitarist Suso Saiz. So listening to this puts me, quite blissfully, in familiar territory. The depth of sound, as always, is stunning. Analog pulses with a cool rubbery consistency lay down the beat framework, incense-smoke pads whisper like wind in the background. Wordless chants pack shamanic potency, a call to open the space. There is a wonderful twilight darkness to it; not cloying and oppressive but the darkness of our own primal spirits, the one still connected to our animal self. Roach has taken the source material, fleshed it out and tied it together into a continuous flow that pulls the listener in and down and keeps them there. This is certainly a space in which to lose yourself–or, you see, to find a version of yourself. In terms of the years-long evolution of Roach’s tribal ambient and desert ambient styles, The Ancestor Circle represents a vital component that had gone missing, but now slots perfectly into the narrative and builds on what already existed. What’s more, it is a fitting tribute to the talent and voice of Jorge Reyes, who left far too early in 2009. A must-have for Steve Roach completists, and a must-hear for anyone into tribal.
Available from Steve Roach’s web site.