Steve Roach & Serena Gabriel — Temple of the Melting Dawn
(Soundquest SQ3, 2021, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-04-04
This one is somewhat different from most of what emerges from Steve Roach’s studio, and that’s most likely due to the involvement of Serena Gabriel. The seven compositions herein were created by both, Roach’s input being the elements created from analog, digital and Eurorack modular synths, Gabriel’s contributions being primarily various acoustic instruments, though often heavily processed and looped beyond recognition. Both of their sounds folded and blended together into a deep and spiritual alchemy that opens portals to new sonic paths that the listener will find as they travel along its immersive corridor. Each of the seven pieces stands alone, with a clear separation between them, distinctively different from Roach’s 74-minute long-form epics; these range anywhere from seven to fifteen minutes and only exist long enough to make their statement and then fade away into obscurity, often evoking different emotions and responses with each piece, sometimes changing along the way in a single piece. “In Another Time” presents a dreamy fogscape with the recurring distant sound of a bell, though it may well be something else processed into a new sound altogether; the effect the piece produces is soothing and beautiful, and at certain points some whispering voices can be heard under the swirling cauldron of ever-present sound loops. Stretching far into the distance in every direction, “Somna” is just seven minutes, a piece for sleep, prayer, or spiritual awakening, with deep overlapping synth loops and very distant subtle flutes caressing the soul. Opener “Glow of Light” shimmers and swirls with colors as the gentle and heavily processed sound of the kalimba pushes the piece along its trajectory, with harmonium adding some beautiful overtones. The soft shimmering labyrinth that is “Visions of Delphi” is blessed with the sound of the lyre, adding elements of melodic color and depth as the piece unfolds. While Temple of the Melting Dawn is dreamy and completely immersive, it remains interesting enough to hold the listener’s attention throughout.
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