Steve Roach - Long Thoughts [Timeroom Editions - 2017]As it’s title might suggest here’s a lengthy slice of slowly swirling and gently spiralling deep ambience from American ambient legend Steve Roach. The release appeared late summer 2017- in either the form of a CD, cassette or digital download- I’m reviewing the CD version of the release.
The CD comes in a four-panel digipak, that features over its panel these green & silver tinged mirror like swirls, twists & cracks- it’s a simple yet effective bit of packaging, which of course nicely highlights the ambience within. I don’t think the CD version of this is particularly ltd, though the cassette version is ltd to just a 100 copies- as of writing, you can still buy all three versions of the releases on Roach’s band camp.
The self-titled track on offer here comes in at seventy-three minutes & fourteen seconds. The track opens with a fading in bank of circulating brooding mid-to-lower ranged synth tone. As the track grows in depth & clarity this is slowly edged by higher & at times ringing pitched harmonic drift & sail, and moving forward over the track's journey this becomes a key part of the ambient make-up of the track. The use of this higher, at times almost ritual ringing tone to the track, is fairly unique to other Roach work I’ve heard- and it gives at times the whole thing quite a feeling of sourness, which on initial listen felt a little shrill & glaring- though over time has become oddly soothing.
Over the tracks length, Roach expertly circulars & ebbs the brooding & darker low-to-mid end tones, with the more ringing & slowly siren tone like gliding higher pitched tones. And this creates the perfect ambient feel of constantly drifting in warming, yet never drowsy sound-mass which seems to encase you in its thick-yet- velvety grip. At moments along the way you feel like Roach may finally let you go, and drift of into shadowy silence- yet he never does- as you drift into yet another cascading blend of slowly moving ambient tone soup.
At times the track has an almost more seared ritual edge to it, and this rather brought to mind later-day more freeform ambient work from the likes of Coil. Yet these tendencies are largely played down- so instead you get that classic feeling of lulling-yet-wide awake near ambient stasis that long-form deep ambient Roach works manage.
It’s always nice to see Roach revisiting his longer & deeper ambient side- and Long Thoughts is a worthy addition to his other releases in this category. As well as of course appealing to general fans of deep ambience, I can also see those looking for more slurred & slowed ritual ambience getting something from this too.Roger Batty