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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Steve Roach - Quiet Music [Projekt - 2011]

Over his 30 plus year career US ambient legend Steve Roach has released many classic, influential & highly respected slices of ambient muisc. But with-out doubt one of the most influential, often quoted and most loved recordings of Roach's career is the Quiet Music series which originally appeared in 1998. This reissue brings together all three volumes of the series for the first time, and with out a doubt it's a lush & inviting stone cold ambient classic that hasn’t dated a bit over the years.

The three volumes of Quiet Music original appeared on Fortuna Records in the form of three 60 minute cassettes released through out 1988. Then in 1999 Fortuna Records released a selection of the tape series in a double cd form rather confusingly entitled “Quiet Music: Complete Edition” (which clearly it wasn’t)- this new three digipak reissue is the first true reissue of all three Volumes of Quiet Music, & it’s set out as Roach originally intended the series

The music on all of the three volumes of Quiet Music was composed by Roach between the years 1983 & 1986, and all the material was originally commissioned for several "healing arts" and mediation programs; but don’t let that put you off- all of this collection side-steps anything remotely new age based to create a series of up-lifting, lush & life affirming recordings. 

 

Disc one features the first volume of Quiet Music & this takes in just two thirty minute tracks “The Green Place, Part 1” and “The Green Place, Part 2”. The first track drifts into sonic view with just the sounds of birds chirping in a forest, and a distant waterfall. Around the minute twenty mark a vibe like sounding synth texture gently repeats a warming child like melody. As the track moves on Roach subtle adds in more layers of synth texture; but the sound picture never gets too over-crowded with the lulling & soothing bird song & water still been heard in the background. Around the six and a half minute mark the warming sounds of a single flute(courtesy  of Will Morris) is added to the mix. The flute once again is very soothing & non-intrusive, and it really deepens the richly lush & beautiful floating vibe of the track. The rest of the track finds Roach’s synth textures slowly & elegantly weaving together with Morris flute playing, leavening the listener to slowly bob along on the tracks lush & enchanting ambient drift.

“The Green Place, Part 2”. once again starts with distant bird chatter & water field recordings, but fairly soon Roach synth playing starts up. The synths here are really following a similar melody line to the first part, but Roach’s playing is a bit more  full, less drifting & more about cascading notation & texture. The track also feels less drifting and more firm in it’s structure yet it’s still very soothing with just the subtle sounds of water lapping and rushing in the background for most of it’s first half. Around the 12 minute the track picks up pace a bit more with a constant melodic bob of the main synth tone, this  main tone is weaved by other subtle yet enriching layers of synth texturing and water/ bird recordings.


Moving onto disc two and we of course have “Quiet Music 2” and this conists of five tracks in all which range between nearing the three & a half minute mark, and just over the thirty tow minute mark. This disc moves from weaving & bobbing layered synth waters of the opening track “See Things”, to the slow glowing synth waltz & rushing water samples of “Towards the Blue”, onto the soothing & emotional ebb, drift & relaxation of “Something In The Tears”. Through to “A Few More Moments” which starts out with  rising & sustained synth drone ’n’ ebb, before later on moving into cascading & weaving lite electronica territory. To  the last track “Air And Light” which starts out as a series of slowly drifting & merging ambient synthesizer tones, then drifts into almost lush string like ambient drifts- its  a both emotional movingly & lushly captivating track.


So lastly we come to disc number three and “Quiet Music 3”, and this disc features three tracks in all: “Dreaming & sleep” which comes in at just under the twenty two minute mark, “Quite Canon” which is just shy of the eight minute mark, and “Sleep & Dreaming” which is just over the half an hour mark. Both of the Sleep & Dreaming tracks are built around ebbing, soothing and glowing synthesizer textures that weave out rich & lush melodic drift & atmospheric expanses. With both tracks structures getting more lush & layered as the tracks go on. The second Sleep & Dreaming track also sees the return of Will Morris rich yet emotional flute playing which adds another layer to the tracks soothing ebb ‘n’ flow.  “Quiet Cannon” is a surprisingly vibrate & jaunting mixture of slowed regal sounding electronica synth bob & waltz, which is ebbed & soothed by drifting string like synthesizer textures.


Each of the three volumes of Quiet Music offers up their own distinctive charm and sonic personality, but all three retain a hopefully, soothing, restful air and vibe which rightly make these three releases a series. I cant really pick a favourite of the three volumes or even a favourite track as each volume & track has it’s own beauty, grace & soothing air of sonic wonder. 

So to sum-up if you have any interesting in any form of ambient & atmospheric synth based music this is a must buy item. It’s truly a classic & flawless ambient masterpiece that’s up there with the likes of Brian Eno’s “Discreet Music”, Aphex Twins “Selected Ambient Works Volume II”, and Stars of the Lid’s “The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid”. One of the best reissues of 2011!

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Roger Batty
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