Steve Roach, Spiral Revelation

roach_spiralListening to Spiral Revelation is like watching electronic mandalas get spun out in the air in front of your mind’s eye. It’s another outing of hands-on analog synth craftsmanship from the master himself where intricate skeins of sequencer trace their paths across a floor of quieter pads. There is constant energy at play, not always in hyperspeed sequencing, but often just in a vibrancy of tone and the emphatic, angular ping and rebound of the synths. Roach harnesses the consciousness-quelling powers of repetition in every track so that by the end of this hour-long voyage you’re both chilled and invigorated–which is a pretty good trick. While everything is rooted in the titular spirals of sound, each track has its own distinct face. “We Continue” carries a feeling like a slightly sped-up version of a Structures from Silence track–the soft, welcoming chime tones across a flowing bed of pads, all of it accented with quick electronic gurgles for extra texture. Roach melts it flawlessly into the fluttering atmosphere of “Unseen Hand” and increases the velocity a bit. The energy ramps up and all of the analog pleasure centers are firmly struck with the space-cruising “Finger on the Pulse.” This is core EM style with its rigorous sequencing and rapid-fire pacing, the play of low tones against high. I will always be a sucker for that Schulze-style bouncy metallic bass tone that resonates through your body, absolutely defining the Berlin School sound. The title track is a deep 20-minute voyage and has quickly become one of my favorite Roach pieces. (And in a discography this deep, that’s saying something.) It builds from a central phrase that never fades, but instead has a constantly shifting atmosphere built around it. There’s something pleasingly melodramatic in its tone, and Roach slips it back and forth in the mix, sometimes letting a light percussive line take the front briefly. He shifts tones, bringing new sounds and feels into the mix organically. They just appear, then fade. Maybe we hear them again, maybe we don’t. It breathes in this way as it goes about its hypnotic business. Once again, even though it’s head-soothing, it’s got a steady energy and great velocity.

One thing I noticed and appreciate about Spiral Revelation is that Roach never turns it to a dark, moody zone. Often in his energetic work he feels the need to shift gears, go grimmer and slower, if only to pull the listeners back out again. That doesn’t happen here; it’s a consistent assault of sequencer-driven spaces, a future-looking piece of the past that reinforces the power of classic EM. After many plays, Spiral Revelation continues to pull me in, and down, and away, and is likely to get many more listens going forward. This is masterful.

Available at Steve Roach’s web site.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s