Steve Roach / Brian Parnham

Desert Inbetween

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Steve Roach's continual expression of artistic intent via regular releases continues into 2011 with The Desert Inbetween, in this case also being the latest of one of his many collaborations. Brian Parnham, a protégé of Roach for some years, has explored both similar sonics and, given works like The Broken Silence and Between Here & There, thematics -- both artists clearly find a deep inspiration and fascination in dry, empty, and contemplative Southwest surroundings. The Desert Inbetween is almost a natural outgrowth of their individual approaches; hearing both the steady, echoed drumming familiar in much of Roach's work as well as Parnham's loops of didgeridoo on the first track, "Opening Sky" -- if indeed they aren't playing each other's "typical" instrumentation in the end -- shows right off the bat how the two easily mesh forces. Song titles such as "Spirit Passage" and "Return to the Underground" underscore the overarching themes of transition and void suggested by the title in turn; the instrumentation throughout, via entrancing if unsurprising motifs of reverb, distant drumming, half-heard voices, and sounds that could be animals or could be something else, combines to feed into the sense of flow instead of simply stasis -- traveling without moving, if one likes. The deep drones that recur throughout as well -- the echoed bell sounds and much more on "Somewhere Between" being a clear highlight, all drawn-out texture as vast soundscape -- are all the more striking as a result.

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