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The Desert Winds Of Change

by Steve Roach

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The Desert Winds of Change - Steve Roach, Timeroom Editions - TM52 CD and Digital

After a year of non stop concert engagements, and a 12 month artist in residence invitation to create his Ambient Lounge series on a monthly basis at downtown Tucson's intimate Century Room performance space, The Desert Winds of Change emerged at the summit of this time. This piece is a sea change in the evolution Steve Roach's music that dramatically dissolves the lines between live and studio recordings.

The visceral energy present on this release is the culmination of the momentum that evolved over the 45 year of Roach's devotion to his vision of emotion infused electronic based music. Through the course of 2023 this monthly live testing ground Steve would feature artists from the US and Canada. Along with the featured artist solo sets each month Steve would present works in development and other new and current evolving pieces created only for or born that night.

"As the series evolved over the year it felt more like a home away from home in the live setting. For this concert I was relaxed and excited about performing and recording this new long form sequencer based piece that grew out of a new portable system I just built up for this direction in my music. The live in a studio like space is about riding the emotional waves of the soundcurrent with a great audience on board in a way only this setting can provide and inspire.

"This was one those nights were I could the feel flow motion taking over in full effect. The other big piece here is Klaus Schulze. I was feeling his spirit all week before this night. I was tuning into all that his music brought to me in the early phase of self discovery and my emergence into creating electronic-synth based music. Those who know his early music will no doubt feel the inspiration. It's impossible to where know where I would be having not heard Timewind in the mid 70s. For this reason this piece is dedicated to the memory and the legacy of Klaus Schulze"

The Desert Winds of Change rides the thermal waves of hyper focused - in the moment spontaneous creation infused unbounded emotion, symmetry and grace.

Echoes - CD of Month review by John Diliberto
Feb 2024

his is another step in Steve Roach’s evolution. It harkens back to his 1980s analog sequencer work, but it really began with his 2015 album, Skeleton Keys, also an Echoes CD of the Month. That album was pure analog modular synth and you can hear that sound in the gestation of the first movement. But now Roach is adding other synthesizers into the mix. It gives this music a richer, less austere sound, in which you can feel the mind of a master musician at work. As synthesist Michael Stearns told me, “He’s taken his sequencing to a level that Tangerine Dream just never got to.”

That is not faint praise, and you can understand why, when your mind gets wrapped into The Desert Winds of Change.

The album begins in a space of mysterious, liquid abstractions, as if you’re a baby drifting in amniotic fluid. Abstract sounds phase in and out, never quite settling in a groove, a melody or even a pattern. It could be an endless drift if it kept going, but it doesn’t. A couple of minutes into the second movement, sequencers drift in, giving dimension and form to space, and we’re off on a propulsive ride. Multiple sequencer designs lock in, rotating in a synchronized mesh that drives you deeper and deeper into their sound.

On “Part Three,” string-like synths sound like an orchestra wafting in from a distant galaxy while bass ostinatos drift in and out. It is simply mesmerizing the way patterns morph, sometimes moving through different timbres, sometimes slowly changing into newer patterns. But there is nothing slow about this album. Don’t expect a Roach drone zone wash. These are synthesizers in full throttle, like a Formula 1 race, but on a four-dimensional race track. Toward the end of part three, it seems like the piece is going to fade out, but no, recorded live in one take, Roach is just taking a breath, and letting us take a breath, before the sequencer magic of “Part 4” kicks in.

And does it kick in. Out of the sequencers fading into the distance, a bass thud on delay emerges and sequencer cycles appear, gathering around it like electronic bees swarming around a sentient hive in perfectly synchronized motion. It’s symphonic in its dimensions, but no conventional orchestra could play it.

Part 5 continues the momentum, adding in more orchestral-like elements and electronic cymbals return from “Part 2”. Instead of the slow fade-out drone that characterizes most Steve Roach long-form works, (and they are all pretty much long-form), Roach throttles down, stripping patterns away and leaving you with a gentle warp out into the stars. You are left breathless, after a kaleidoscopic rollercoaster ride. But like a rollercoaster ride: you want to jump on again.

credits

released January 1, 2024

Recorded on 8/1/23 with a live audience for
Ambient Lounge at the Century Room
Tucson, Arizona.

This is essentially a live in the studio recording.
No overdubs or edits of any kind occurred in
post-production.

The Desert Winds system:
Movement 1 - Small Eurorack system
Movements 2-5 features Synthesizersdotcom portable system with .com, Moon Sequencer, SSL and Oakley modules, Corsynth, Nordlead 2X, Nordrack 4,
Doepfer Maq 16 Sequencer, Korg Wavestation,
Korg Electribe, JSI Progue, loopers, verbs and delays by Eventide, Lexicon and Line 6

Created by Steve Roach
Recorded by Nathan Youngblood
Mastered by Howard Givens
Cover art by Scott Taylor
Design by Nathan Youngblood

Many thanks to Arthur Vint for the
Century Room Artist in Residence invitation
and to the Ambient Lounge crew,
Linda Kohanov, Nathan Youngblood and Serena Gabriel.

2023 Soundquest Music BMI

The video of this performance can be experienced here: youtu.be/B8CYh0nK-F0

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Steve Roach Tucson, Arizona

As a pioneering cornerstone of ambient-atmospheric-electronic music, internationally-renowned artist Steve Roach has dedicated five decades to exploring myriad soundworlds that connect with a timeless source of inspiration.

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