Born in 1955 and making music since he was 20 years old (inspired by Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Vangelis), Steve Roach has personally helped shape ambient music to become what it is now. He’s one of those extremely prolific artists: his discography boasts about 100 albums at the moment.
He has worked together with many well-known musicians, and though his style may vary on each different release it is also very personal and immediately recognisable.
With 40 years of musical experience, percussionist Byron Metcalf is not exactly a newcomer, either.
The tense and suspenseful rhythms from these seamlessly mixed eight tracks immediately catch hold of the listener and don’t let go until the end, 74 minutes later.
These musicians’ experience and craftmanship are clearly felt in the way the electronic layers, soundscapes and sequenced patterns, are delicately balanced with the incredibly deep (acoustic) percussion, with sometimes sounding like a (not very) remote earthquake.
Steve Roach provides the perfect widescreen atmospheric surroundings for Byron Metcalf’s jawdropping percussion performance.
Apart from being a professional musician, Byron Metcalf also holds a Ph.D. in transpersonal psychology, a master’s degree in counseling psychology – a “transpersonal guide and educator, shamanic practitioner, researcher, and teacher”. This may usually indicate entering musical ‘new age’ territory, which “serious” ambient electronic music listeners usually prefer to avoid. But do not make that mistake on this particular album: it has no trace of the ‘feel-good sounds’ (with oceans & dolphins) usually found on new-age albums.
It has the strong atmosphere of a shamanistic ritual, but it’s brooding and tense in a way seldom heard.
Or, to quote from the accompanying promo text: “With a multi-dimensional trance-groove trajectory, the sound is a tribal-electronic well of visionary power, mystery and visceral awe that envelops the listener.”
Steve Roach & Byron Metcalf – A Noble Direction