Steve Roach - Back to Life [Projekt - 2012]There isn't much that can be said about Steve Roach's new double-album release on the Projekt label that hasn't already been said about is past releases. Roach, a pioneer of the space ambient sound forged in the 80s, has possibly the longest career making this kind of music – however not with much variety.
With Back to Life, Roach treads familiar territory: lush, slow-envelope synth pads, nuanced variations in tone quality, tasteful use of effects and glacial-paced melodic cycles. While this is absolutely to be expected by this time in his career (somewhere between his 50th and 60th full length albums, live discs excluded), it is still nonetheless enjoyable.
There are more than a few tools in Mr. Roach's kit, and this time around he's chosen to use his mostly non-rhythmic approach. A few of his lesser works include blatantly tacky pseudo-ethnic percussive sounds, but these are absent on Back to Life. The only overt rhythms present (if you don't count his infinite cycles of airy melodies) are present in disc 1's “Tranquility” and a simple pulsation in the album-long piece in disc 2 (“Mist of Perception”). The rest is pure ambient.
If you have never delved into the sonic dreamscape that Steve Roach's discography constructs, Back to Life is as equally representative of the man's signature style already known on such albums as Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces, Midnight Moon or Dynamic Stillness. Acquainted fans will no doubt enjoy this newest release as well, and mark it as a high water mark in the ever-expanding universe of Steve's aural vision.