Feature of Steve Roach

Steve Roach: Dreamtime “Revisited”

Date: 2005

The 1988 album “Dreamtime Return” is a state-of-the-art sound document which in its own way pays tribute to the timeless landscapes, art and the mythic dreamtime of the Australian Aboriginals.

For this purpose, Steve Roach spent a lot of time deep in Australia’s outback to explore and absorb the beauty of numerous sacred sites where Aborigines had painted their stories of The Dreamtime (their story of creation) for thousands of years. It was in fact these explorations through the Aborigine myth of The Dreamtime and their highly complex story of creation that inspired and led to his remarkable recording.

Before he had even taught of ever travelling to Australia, Steve went through a time of intensive personal growth and understanding, leaving behind a lot of European influences. In addition, the feeling of a sonic and spiritual bridge between the American Southwest and the Australian outback was awakening as Steve saw the film “The Last Wave” by the Australian director Peter Weir, on which he heard the fascinating sound of the didgeridoo for the first time.

As Roach recalls, the “Dreamtime Return” is a sound documentation of his own Dreamtime travels which took about three years: they already started around 1985-1986 in Southern California and later on continued to Northern Australia.
Ethan Edgecomb, label-owner of Fortuna Records who released Roach’s music until then, knew about the project Steve was trying to shape on his own. He sent Steve the book “Archaeology of the Dreamtime” to trigger him some more.

About a month later Steve also met Florida-based writer/photographer David Stahl, who had heard his third album “Structures from Silence” on the radio while driving through the desert to Mexico. Stahl was so intrigued by the music he invited Steve to collaborate on a film project about the Aboriginal art of The Dreamtime. Steve became part of the crew and took some music with him, which was created long before, in his own Time Room studio.

During his journey Down Under Steve also met the Aboriginal didgeridoo player David Hudson, who taught him to play the didgeridoo. Later on Steve would produce three of David’s didgeridoo records.
The overwhelming experiences of the journey in the Australian outback had a deep impact on Steve’s personal life as on his persistent vision and focus with the project after he returned home.
For the grand music Steve also invited some friends: Robert Rich created some great percussion tracks for it, while Kevin Braheny had just finished his self-built EWI instrument.

In contrast with the ’88 album on lp and mc, the original cd contains 38 minutes of additional music. Two tracks were only found on the cd, and the track “Looking for Safety” is featured in a special extended version of 31 minutes.

In 1998 Celestial Harmonies reissued “Dreamtime Return” as a duo box 2-cd with redesigned cover. However, the new release on Projekt was totally remastered by Steve and the artwork returned to its original look along with new photos in the booklet.



Next to the 24-bit remastered 2-cd album, two additional cds with 140 minutes of all-new music were added, titled “New Life Dreaming” and “Possible Planet”, thereby completing “The Dreamtime Box”.

All cds can be ordered individually, but the each uniquely hand-printed box earth coloured box will only be available straight from Steve’s own site and the Projekt site.

Steve Roach talks about the new reissue of “Dreamtime Return”

So, what made Roach turn back to “Dreamtime Return”(DTR)?
Well, the rights to the release reverted back to me over a year ago. My desire to revisit this release started on the fact that it was first released in the early days of cds, and we were all just figuring out what to consider for getting this style of music onto cd.

Over time I felt I could bring the things I have learned about mastering to this release. In addition, it draws on its personal significance for me along with how it still seems to hit a collective nerve out in the world since its original release.
By re-releasing it I can bring it to a place I feel 100% satisfied with, also as I didn’t like the “sandstone” cover of Celestial’s ’98-version.

Do tell us of the two new cds of music you added to the original album. Were they hard to compose?
“New Life Dreaming” started flowing soon after I started to reopen the door into the Dreamtime space during the mid part of last year. I just started listening DTR again after not hearing it much over recent years. The feeling in that music just brought me to a place that was welling up. The music just flowed out in the way I remember the original DTR pieces occurring.

It’s a living, breathing, space for me which has continued to flow down deep over the years. As I re-opened the door to this dreamtime space, the creative urges and subtle cues to follow the trail deeper was immediately reinforced by several new pieces, which feel directly, connected to this indescribable quality. These new pieces just flowed out.
There was no big agenda, concept or sense of obligation to make them feel like they belonged on the Dreamtime Return discs. All the pieces came from a calm space, just letting things breath and not being in any hurry to go anywhere. Now that they are complete, I feel the pieces speak of the subtle blooms that occur in the heart and mind when you slow it all down.

“Possible Planet” is a three-movement long form analogue zone world of pure textural bliss created between December 2004 and May 2005, which developed into a pivotal new release for me. It’s also included in the DTR-box because it represents a parallel in some ways to the track “Looking For Safety”.
As an artist, if you live long enough to draw a line back in time, the recurring themes can link up to create an interesting graph of stylistic confluence.

“Possible Planet” and “Looking For Safety” (recorded in 1986) are at similar points on that graph, with many years in-between them and created in very different circumstances, but still sharing the same air.
Sonically, “Possible Planet” is the result of an analogue rebirth that started for me last fall.
A series of events created a craving obsession in my imagination and within my ears to hear and create from pure means. I wanted to feel the current coming right out of the wall, and shape it from that point forward.
“Possible Planet” was created completely on a modular analogue system which I assembled over a five-month period. As the sonic life form was evolving, the system that was creating it was evolving as well, in order for the changes to occur. This was also a great metaphor for the themes of the emerging cellular life forms I was dreaming into.

In order to remove the reliable and familiar modes of working, I eliminated a few basics: no MIDI, keyboards of any kind, or computers for composition and editing. It was all about twisting knobs, feeling it in my fingertips and coaxing the current into the desired direction.
“Possible Planet” was recorded during three live sessions. Each session would start after several days of creating and learning the nuances of a ‘living’ patch I had created, from which the sound forms were drawn from”

In March 2018, Projekt Records released the 30th Anniversary High Definition Remastered Edition of “Dreamtime Return”. Spotted Peccary’s Howard Givens utilized his years of technical knowledge with electronic music, an extensive array of analog and digital tools, and his passion for this seminal work, to restore the original sonic nature and visionary intention, taking the listener deeper into the dreamtime.

Website: www.steveroach.com

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