Steve Roach - Sigh of Ages [Projeckt - 2010]Steve Roach has been releasing music for over 30 years now (originally as a member of a group called Moebius) and puts out albums at a rate that whilst not quite up there with Masami Akita in terms of numbers is still nonetheless fairly impressive.
Steve was influenced originally by the likes of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and Klaus Schulze and that’s more than plain to hear from the tracks on this album. He works with a variety of instruments sometimes the albums are purely synthesiser based sometimes treated guitars are in there and he was one of the earliest users of the didgeridoo in ambient music. Sigh of Ages though is one of his purely synthesiser based albums and he has provided a list of the instruments used on the inside cover of the album. There’s a mixture of analogue (Oberheim Xpander, Arp String Ensemble) and digital (Nord lead, Dave Smith Evolver).
The album does (unfortunately in my opinion) sound very much like a sum of its influences. Very much comprised of ambient synth textures that wouldn’t be that out of place in your local New Age shop. That’s not to say there aren’t moments of the album that are very good it’s more that too much of it sounds too similar to numerous other groups/people all working in a similar area.
Steve Roach often produces ambient albums that are beatless and I think that’s where on Sigh of Ages it goes wrong. The two tracks that work on this album (The View From Here and Return of the Majestic) are the only ones that have any sort of semblance of beat or rhythm in them. In “The View From Here” he uses sequenced synth lines that give the track an undercurrent that grounds it and drives it along and the other piece uses occasional beats here and there and some very staccato notes that give it a further sense of rhythm. The remaining pieces are pleasant enough ambient textures but never manage to get beyond the sense of being pleasant New Age synth tracks that could be by any number of artists as they don’t have a particular personality stamped on them.David Bourgoin