This 1986 Steve Roach release finds him visiting the very familiar territory of his early years. Empetus is a profoundly rhythmic recording, with dashes of ambient atmospheric textures here and there adding a luminous aura of color to each of the tracks. Empetus, like many of his early recorded works, has a bit of a Berlin School feel, a lá Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, and Ashra, but there's something about even Steve Roach's earliest work that is distinctly American in flavor and composition. As noted, this is a rhythmic recording, consisting of beautiful and cool analog and synthesizer sounds, which truly date the music as being from the mid-'80s, but Empetus is a refreshing, almost vintage recording rather than a schlocky, almost insubstantial synth/new age excursion that, unfortunately, the '80s yielded many of. There's also a bit of a minimalist feel, similar to some of Steve Reich's work, but more organic and less cold. One track that really sticks out is "Conquest," with Weslie Brown's fervent vocals passionately resonating throughout the track, set against the backdrop of Steve Roach's organic, and isolated, synthesized minimalism. This is a great recording and one that is truly a wonderful place to start exploring the massive catalog of Steve Roach.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Borghi