Steve Roach

Vine - Spore & Bark

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This fifth installment in Steve Roach's personal Timeroom Editions series is among the finest of the lot. Reuniting with Jorge Reyes, Roach's running partner in Suspended Memories with Suso Saiz, creates a fresh field of exploration both electronically and organically given Reyes' ability to conjure oceans of music from a small bag full of flutes and percussion instruments. Vine - Spore & Bark is a journeying piece, a shamanic travel through dark spaces for the elements of healing. The trajectory of the journey is notated in the titles of the pieces featured: "Healing Place," "Sorcerer's Temple," "The Holy Dirt," "Night Journey," "Spore and Bark," "Healing Temple," and "Gone From Here." The journey begins with the sounds of the forest coming from all directions, randomly informing the entrance of the music, which seems to be emanating from the same place. As Reyes' chanting voice prayerfully intones in the "Sorcerer's Temple," drums and natural sounds waft in and out of the mix, gradually forcing his vocal to the background of an ambience that is now empty save for the seemingly random sounds and dense feeling of unknowing, or blindness. "Holy Dirt" brings the organic to the fore, with spare percussion touching softly the drones Roach creates with his keyboards. Sounds of water are everywhere and nowhere. Percussion gradually enters creating a series of polyrhythms for the drones to work against, initially as if adversaries and join forces later in the piece. Once that union takes place, it is a matter of sonic exploration into the root of existence, the dirt, the spore, the bark, and all the elements that create the medicine. Reyes and Roach create a mystical mine field with surprises at every turn, a wilderness where anything can, and does happen. The journey is through the darkness of the spirit and the senses with only the courage of purpose as a guide and the spirit world surrounding the forest and underworld in ever nook, under every stone, just beyond that bend. In "Spore and Bark," the gathering's done, and the first part of the journey is completed; the transformation begins once the medicine is mixed. Heavy drums, groans, moans, and the sound of as snake slithering underfoot carry the listener deeper into "The Healing Temple." At this point the shamanic journey becomes an alchemist's laboratory; the administration of this musical medicine comes shimmering from the shadows and into the foreground of consciousness -- no longer traveling blind, the music moves with heat, purpose, and verve. Grace is everywhere before the final movement, the last elemental ingredient of the journey, which is not to return home, but to be "Gone From Here." Twenty minutes in length, this is Roach at his best, creating a sound world for the inner fire, the inner temple, where heaven, earth, and the spirit of flesh and its spiritual healing come together for a moment of eternity; the question is wide open, especially as random drums enter as the music wafts into silence. On the inner sleeve of the album the quote "The music is the medicine" is stamped; in this case, the case of Vine - Spore & Bark, that is literally true.

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