Steve Roach - Empetus [Projekt - 2008]This is a reissue of an classic slice of electroinca/ambience from 1986 which shows Roach in a more racing, upbeat and atmospheric form than his more expansive breathing ambience. It also comes with an excellent extra 70 minute disk of unreleased early material too.
There’s no doubt about it this is very much of it’s time with the synth sounds, rhythmic textures and production sitting squarely in 1980’s. But if like me you enjoy active 80’s synth soundtrack music or Tangerine Dream's more effective and up-beat mid to late 80’s work you’ll find alot to enjoy here. The tracks are all fairly short, sharpe and dramatic with each lasting between four to seven minute a piece with Roach never stretching or over milking an idea – which again quite relates to a soundtrack like feel. All but one of the tracks here is built around layers of up-beat synth textures which Roach weaves into effective racy, cinematic and melodic tracks. There’s also an rather nice and effective use of female vocal harmonising on a few tracks which adds and interesting edge to proceedings. My only slight criticism is on a few of the tracks here he seems to pull out too soon from tracks racing atmospheric pace leaving you wanting more development, but it’s no major thing and I guess it’s better that way around then getting fed up with thing been stretched out.
The second disk brings together two early tracks firstly we have Harmonia Mundi which is a 45 minute collaboration between Roach & Swiss born electronic musician Thomas Ronkin recorded between 1982 & 83. It basically a seemingly never ending stream of interlocking synth patterns that the pair knit out in spacey and harmonic wonder, & again like Empetus is very up-beat & racy- been a very satisfying long form piece of 80’s synth music. The other piece on the disk is entitled Release and it's a 25 minute track recorded in 1982, just after Roach’s first album Now. And as Roach points out in his linear notes it has quite a Klaus Schulze vibe to it been a lot more 70’s electronica. But again it’s still a really great atmospheric slice of synth bobbing and cinematic weaving that keeps your heart racing and attention through-out.
All in all a Great double disk of highly rewarding and classic 80’s synth music,with the newly discovered material been just as rewarding as the Empetus material. To find out more and hear samples drop into Mr Roach’s home base here.Roger Batty