Steve Roach: Live Transmission (From the Drone Zone at SomaFM) (2-CD)


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    Disc 1
  1. In the Light of Day 21:54
  2. Zone of Drones 7:46
  3. Looking for Safety 14:32
  4. Reflecting Chamber 11:31
  5. Kairos Portal 4:39

    Total 60:23

    DISC 2
  1. Vortex Immersion 32.26
  2. Westwind 16:49
  3. Today 16:40

    Total 65:56

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Created in a single two-hour session two days after his epic May 2013 Ambicon concert, LIVE TRANSMISSION is Steve Roach doing what he does best: creating transcendent electronic music emerging from an elemental, instinctual mode. With months of preparation absorbed into his system, Steve’s slow-flow moods and evocative soundscapes blend with ecstatic rhythmic sections born from hands-on analog sound creation. The result is a direct transference of creative energy from the artist through his instruments out to the listener. 

For this 2-CD release, Steve travelled with a portable version of his Timeroom Studio to the San Francisco-based headquarters of internet radio station SomaFM. For the past twelve years, SomaFM’s “Drone Zone” channel has exposed a global audience to the best of electronic excursions with Steve as one of their regularly featured artists. Over the past few years, Soma founder Rusty Hodge and Steve have discussed creating a first-time-ever live electronic transmission directly from the SomaFM home base. As an in-the-studio immersion experience, this event unfolded with a large worldwide audience tuning in; Steve channeled that awareness into this expanded excursion. The set weaves all new soundworlds with evolving themes from classic pieces into a seamless odyssey. 

On LIVE TRANSMISSION the musical journey is experienced in its pure form of creation: potent sounds unfolding in front of the listener like an act of nature. Surging heartbeats blend with deep atmospheric cloudbursts and serene moments of repose soon dissolve into shapeshifting landscapes. LIVE TRANSMISSION is the place where Steve’s music thrives, created at the leading edge of now.

Release Date: August 13, 2013

A review from Ambient Music Guide

Weight .4 lbs


Release Year



2-CD in 6-panel DIgipak


  1. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Ondarock

    La quarta zampata di Steve Roach sul 2013 – escludendo un paio di release d’archivio in solo formato digitale – torna a portare su disco, due anni dopo il monumentale capolavoro Journey Of One, un’esibizione dal vivo del maestro californiano. Sulle sue performance si è più volte detto molto, tanto quanto sulla sua inarrivabile capacità di utilizzare la musica come mezzo di evocazione di sentimenti, immagini e sensazioni, con la quale ha cambiato il significato stesso dell’espressione ambient music: trattasi di autentici viaggi dove egli si erige a guida, utilizzando una miriade di sintetizzatori come comandi e conducendo il pubblico nei luoghi più disparati.

    Ben poco lo spazio concesso a laptop e strumenti preparati: le sue sono pure improvvisazioni, ancorate sì a basi pre-registrate (spesso provenienti da brani di album, demo degli stessi o idee ancora in lavorazione) ma pronte ben presto a distaccarsi dalle stesse per cambiare colore in base ai connotati dell’alchimia fra musicista, strumenti, luogo e pubblico. Esperienze sempre diverse e irripetibili, ciascuna con le proprie peculiarità, ma che svariate difficoltà tecniche hanno reso da anni ben più che rare: ecco dunque che un compromesso scoperto da Roach è divenuto quello dei live presso le stazioni radio, l’ultimo dei quali si è svolto quest’estate negli studi di SomaFM – solo tre giorni dopo la performance ad Ambicon, festival celebrativo della storica e indimenticabile Heart Of Space.

    Registrato e pubblicato oggi su doppio disco dalla Projekt, esso prende dunque la forma di Live Transmission, lavoro che per una volta non gode di particolari acuti o di momenti memorabili. Emblematici, in tal senso, sono i venti minuti di “In The Light Of Day” e i cinque della sua reprise “Kairos Portal”, due suite dal marcato retrogusto Schulziano (quello dei lavori di inizio millennio) che si perdono però nel ricorso eccessivo ai loop. Trattasi comunque di costruzioni sonore in grado di impartire lezioni a buona parte degli odierni esponenti dell’ambient classica, ma prive di quella capacità evocativa propria di tutti i lavori migliori di Roach.

    Il clima della tracklist è tutto fuorché univoco: la modestissima “Zone Of Drones” prova a ripiegare su droni oscuri senza tangere minimamente, mentre la coppia “Looking For Something”-“Reflecting Chamber” cerca e trova con più successo il contatto rispettivamente con le distese desertiche dei dischi “californiani” e la tensione degli ultimi lavori con vidnaObmana (non a caso presente assieme a Byron Metcalf come “fornitore di sample”). La mezz’ora di “Vortex Immersion” prova a porsi come ennesima variazione sul tema di “Kairos Portal”, dilatando questa volta i tempi e posticipando l’ingresso del ritmo: il risultato si conferma però perfetto tecnicamente quanto “freddo” e ben lungi dal guidare nell’immersione annunciata dal titolo.

    A chiudere il cerchio, il quarto d’ora più melancolico di “Westwind” e le dilatazioni fluttuanti di “Today”, in grado di riportare il soundworld a una dimensione più vicina alle sconfinate tele a cui Roach ha abituato. Tele che questa volta stentano nell’unire alla maestria tecnica quella capacità di dialogare con l’ascoltatore, di condurre l’immaginazione, di entrare in simbiosi con l’ambiente riproducendolo e divenendone riproduzione, di sfruttare la musica – in maniera decisamente Romantica – come un pennello in grado di superare i limiti del materiale per ambire a scenari sconfinati. Tutte caratteristiche, c’è da crederlo, che la natura di “live a distanza” con cui l’album è nato ha teso a minare, ma nelle quali nessuno sarà probabilmente mai in grado di eguagliare Steve Roach. Rating: 6 (good) -Matteo Meda

  2. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Sonic Curiosity

    This release from 2013 features 126 minutes of live electronic music performed on May 7, 2013 at Soma FM. While Roach is the sole live performer, he utilizes pip (Fujara Source) by Dirk Serries and sounds (Beat Source) by Byron Metcalf.

    As expected, the pieces here are extra-long, allowing the sonic flow to gradually evolve. Not that separate identity is a factor as each track streams into the next without betraying any break; in fact, each subsequent piece grows out of the residue of the prior track.

    CD 1 begins with a sparkling textural that breathes with an erratic fluctuation, accompanied by lighter tones of a similar resonance. These tones are almost melodic in definition, although they are generally put to harmonic use, ebbing and sighing to generate a gentle auralscape. A slushy background presence creeps into the mix, lending a contrast for the otherwise glistening nature of the lead sounds. Soon emerging are muffled rhythms (more muted than muffled, actually), which contribute a languid tempo to the ambience. The electronics become more prominent, in volume and interweaving complexity, producing a flow that is quite entrancing. Somewhere along the way, the ambience mutates into an elevated state, retaining its gentility but seasoning things with a touch of melodic oomph. Those muted percussives engage in more intricate rhythms as they begin to exhibit more cybernetic character; this blend of beat and crackle is quite engaging as it defines sinuous patterns amid the electronic flow. That flow has similarly mutated. thickening with additional sounds, all of which maintaining a remote vantage with their softness. Eventually, the rhythms fade away, leaving the electronics to reorganize and coalesce into fresh atmospherics. When the rhythms return, they are grittier, crunchy as they define a temperate tribal presence just over the hill. The addition of shakers enhances this tribal milieu. As the CD draws to its conclusion and the music starts to enter its extended fade-out, a new melody surfaces, mustering strength until it fairly seethes with pulsating puissance, bringing the CD to a strong end.

    Oh, it would be so easy to just say the second CD offers more of the same…but that would be erroneous. While ambience is keynote, the styles in which Roach achieves these soundscapes is different each time. Whether mixing guttural gears with spiraling tones…or piercing bleeps contrasted by snickety beats…his goal may be to mesmerize the audience, but each track pursues alternate methods of delivering that mesmerization. There’s a section that approaches Roach’s groove style, chugging along with soft urgency while retaining a dreamy air. And this passage slides into an even more energetic mode with surging pulsations of a squeaky nature immersed in bubbling bloops. And the concert wraps up with a piece of moderate strength, bordering on ambient but possessing a tad too much melody and substance to be considered truly ambient.

    It is important to understand that although Roach utilizes an amount of his signature “sounds,” an abundance exists of fresh oscillations (such as squeaky bird-like noises or bent cello notes) which are new to his sonic palette. The result is a tasty new flavoring of ambiences. -Matt Howarth

  3. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    A review from Ambient Music Guide
    Best of 2013

    In the 1970’s and early 80s there arose a thread of American ambient e-music that, while often confused with Californian new age, had greater longevity embedded in its DNA than the output of many a new age musician. Steve Roach, Robert Rich and Michael Stearns were the leading lights of this school – aided greatly by exposure on Stephen Hill’s radio program Music From The Hearts Of Space – and all three are still active today.
    2013 saw Steve Roach returning to live performance for the first time in some years. He played three venues – the Ambicon festival, plus a live webcast from SOMA FM’s San Francisco studios, plus three shows at the Vortex Dome in Los Angeles later in the year. This double-length set is from his Soma FM gig and it’s truly glorious. I saw his Ambicon gig in May and musically Live Transmission is in the same league, just longer – a slowly developing tapestry of improvisation and prepared themes performed on a mix analogue and digital gear. All the elements of his sound are there: vast slow moving clouds, breathing synthetic chords, shakers, didgeridoo, dark tribal beats, pretty Berlin-school arpeggios and loads of samples from natural environments. The music’s complexity and emotion, and its undeniable psychedelic power, is not simply gifted to you. It demands patience and a certain surrender to the fact that you’re going on a long, gently twisting journey.

    Steve Roach’s discography is so vast, his creative achievements and his influence on other e-musicians so hard to measure, that no one album could even approach being a rough summary of his work. Live Transmission is hardly a greatest hits set anyway – a version of “Looking For Safety” that originally appeared on his epic Dreamtime Return (1989) is the only track here that would be widely recognised among Roach fans. But what this album does show is tremendous poise – a live performer in complete command of his art and still inspired after more than 30 years of music making.

  4. Richard Gürtler

    Review  –:

    A review from relaxedmachinery.com

    This double CD, released by Projekt during August 2013, documents two-hour live performance from The Drone Zone radioshow at SomaFM at May 7th, famous commercial-free internet-only radio station based in San Francisco. Officially launched in February 2000, the Drone Zone was its first station. Hosted by Rusty Hodge, the founder of SomaFM.com. Planned and discussed for few years to create a first-time-ever live electronic transmission directly from the SomaFM headquarters, this live session followed only two days after Steve’s concert at applauded AMBIcon 2013 festival in San Rafael, CA. Steve Roach traveled to the SomaFM’s headquarters with a portable version of his Timeroom Studio. Listening to a live stream of this performance was for me a truly magical experience that still deeply resonates. Now, with this double CD each connoisseur of fine ambient soundscapes is able to transport these exceptional moments directly to his/her own listening environment. Packaged in elegant 6-panel digipak featuring 4 live photographs taken by Rusty Hodge. Additional credits for packaging include Dawn Wilson-Enoch for Spiral Fossil photo and Sam Rosenthal for graphic design.

    22-minute long “In The Light Of Day” fires this unforgettable journey with gorgeously ebbing and flowing ethereal atmozone. Later on occasional crystalline rumble step in and awakes primordial shaman. Soon followed by gently invasive, locomoting tribal trance magics, enhanced by enigmatic breaths. Absolutely magnificent sonic travelogue, bridging cyber-reality with ancient excursion. With headphones on, the listener is immediately taken to the forefront of transcendental sonic realms, a true shamanistic powerhouse is back again!!! Most likely born on the ashes of lost piece “Light Of Day” from 2001. “Zone Of Drones” calms down, yet remains in mysterious chasm pervaded by soaring drones, colored here and there by high-tech fragments and guarded by distant phantasmagorical voice eeriness. The next piece, “Looking For Safety”, unfolds with eternally majestic and grandiosely panoramic desert drifts, beautifully expanding and floating through warmly embracing cascades. Mesmerizing cyber-trance grooves join the stage and stunningly interact with evocative wide-screen stark landscapes, toward the end soothingly riding atop of whimsical flora and fauna. Ultra immersing, 14 and half minutes long aural bliss awaits!!! Ancient memories of magical “Dreamtime Return” revive… Amazing fujara sounds along with chirping birds and insects lead “Reflecting Chamber” (fujara source credit goes to Dirk Serries). I am always really proud when hearing this instrument in ambient music, because this majestic deep-bass overtone folk flute is a native instrument of Slovak shepherds, preserved over centuries in its original shape. Fujara slowly disappears, circling drone groan steps to the fore, but soon pristine, gently hypnotic tribal beat artistry (original source by Byron Metcalf) steals the show, shortly followed by didgeridoo barks. Intensely absorbing and powerfully magical aural perfection, welcome to the tribal ambient paradise!!! By the way, different, shorter version of this track appeared for the first time on phenomenal “Light Fantastic” album in 1999. The closing cut, “Kairos Portal”, reveals through mysteriously spiraling drones, but soon softer luminous cyber-tech pulses invade and precisely amalgamate with backing monochromatic drone walls (originated from “Resonation Portal”) and lead into fast-paced hypnotic culminations. Quite short, but splendidly expanding symbiotic mindscape!!! A superb one-hour CD, greatly polished in every detail with top-notch sound quality, certainly another proof why Steve Roach is one of the unquestionable giants of ambient genre. He did it again!!!

    The second CD opens with “Vortex Immersion”, a 32 and half minutes long composition, placidly meandering through softly gurgling cyber electronic realms. After 10 minutes trance rhythm slowly arise, move in ever-changing tempos, escalate into speedy locomotive-like movements and then fade out, while unpredictably coiling and twisting synthetic currents modulate and undulate continuously throughout. Beautifully hypnotic transitions, richly fragranced in intensity and movement, are deeply intriguing and vigorously adventurous. Electro-organic convergence at its most forceful!!! “Westwind” kicks attractively and actively with sharp and rapid sequence mingle, expanding, swirling, climaxing and orbiting in analogue heaven. Nearly 17 minutes of luxuriously energetic as well as gorgeously resonant brilliance!!! The original, slightly longer version of “Westwind” ignites fantastic “Proof Positive” album. The grand finale of second disc is provided by “Today”, a very special composition, its original version was recorded live in the morning of February 16, 2013 and at the same day published as a download gift for all fans of Steve Roach. This date is also Steve’s birthday and he recorded this track with his mobile live studio, which he set up for some days in the empty house in San Diego, where he grew up. Get ready for ultimate 17-minute listening excitement that is “Today”!!! Hauntingly expressive sparkling sequences precisely interact with utterly evocative floating and sweeping atmospheric splendor, tranquilizing cicadas emerge from the nocturnal stillness. Deeper drone shadows sneak in for the closing 6 minutes. This track masterfully captures profoundly evocative moments, where long buried memories awake and bridge with presence. Full immersion is guaranteed, a masterpiece!!! Now my dreams of “Life Sequence 2” are revealed…

    “Live Transmission” is undoubtedly a crème de la crème of 2013!!! A truly monstrous, fully packed comprehensive double CD set gloriously documenting ingenious soundworlds by The Master unfolding in front of the attentive listener. Hats off to Steve Roach & Rusty Hodge!!!

    Richard Gürtler (Sep 07, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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