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Listen to more Icons of Echoes:

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Over the years certain artists have emerged as icons of the Echoes soundscape. These are musicians who shifted the direction of music, whose work influenced a generation and usually , musicians who also tend to be articulate thinkers about their art. In this series, you'll hear features Echoes has produced on these artists, often encompassing their entire careers.

Steve Roach: Sonic Archaeology
One of 10 Artists for 10 Years of Echoes
Steve Roach wrote the first and only Echoes theme song. We abandoned that many years ago, but we haven't abandoned Steve Roach who until recently, has had an album in Echoes rotation without break since the beginning of the show. Steve has traveled from an acolyte of German space music to virtually creating the techno-tribal genre. His soundscapes defy tradition, working on a level of pure sound, but he often uses the most primitive instruments, including stones and didgeridoos to create his soundscapes. For our tenth anniversary, Steve Roach was selected as the third of TEN ARTISTS FOR TEN YEARS OF ECHOES. In this retrospective feature, Kimberly Haas goes inside Steve Roach's studio to discover the artifacts and relics of a timeless sound.

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STEVE ROACH: Deep Space Explorer
Over the course of more than dozens of albums in more than 2 decades, synthesist and composer Steve Roach has carved out a personal sound world on recordings like EMPETUS, STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE, DREAMTIME RETURN and THE MAGNIFICENT VOID. He's one of the few synthesists to work his way out of the shadows of German space music to create his own highly influential style, incorporating organic, primitive and acoustic sounds into his music.

Steve Roach is a musician between worlds. Esconced in his synthesizer studio at the desert's edge of Tucson, he revels in the austere, mysteriously beautiful, natural countryside that he's depicted in the collaborations DESERT SOLITAIRE (Fortuna) and WESTERN SPACES (Fortuna). Even as we speak, he gazes out as a thunder storm approaches over the Catalina Mountain Range. "These thunderstorms are wonderful," he exclaims. "There's the distant thunder and now it'll move over the house."

Roach is well known for his space music excursions, STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE (Fortuna) and EMPETUS (Fortuna), that are carefully wrought within the circuitry of synthesizers. But his heart lies in the primitive cultures and landscapes of the earth as well as the mind-altering concepts of surrealism and the hum of modern technology. It's those concerns that inform almost all of Roach's endeavors in the last 15 years. That's why he was the third of TEN ARTISTS FOR TEN YEARS OF ECHOES. We've featured roach more than ten times in 14 years.

In this special Icons of Echoes collection, you'll hear six sound portraits of Steve Roach and his music and two livbing room concerts. The first is from 1989 and the second from 1999.

Steve Roach's Australian Abyss (1990)
Steve Roach has always occupied the paradox between high technology and deeper, primal feelings and thoughts. In 1987, Roach traveled to Australia and returned with the inspiration for his 1988 album, DREAMTIME RETURN. The techno-primitive paradox was drawn with a fine line as Roach integrated his synthesized architecture with the ancient music and mythology of Australia's Aborigines. He took a second trip to Australia and returned with another recording, AUSTRALIA: SONG OF THE EARTH. We spoke with Roach then about the sound that would influence his music for the next decade. Kimberly Haas walks the dreamtrack with Steve Roach.

Since we recorded this feature with Steve Roach, he's more than mastered the circular breathing techniques of the didgeridoo. And the instrument is still an important element in his music.

Steve Roach: Techno-Tribal Artifacts (1994)
Steve Roach is nothing if not prolific. In 1994 he released the two solo albums, ARTIFACTS and THE DREAM CIRCLE; the ensemble album with Suspended Memories, EARTH ISLAND; and collaborations with Solitaire, Vidna Obmana and a few others. It's easy to take Steve Roach for granted because every plot of his development is charted on an almost monthly basis. Changes for most artists that would appear revolutionary, for Roach appear imperceptibly evolutionary. In 1994 he was extending the music he'd been working on since DREAMTIME RETURN, but bringing it to new levels of sophistication.

Since this feature first aired in 1994, Steve Roach has continued exploring permutations on his techno-tribal designs. His Soundquest label has turned into his Time Room Editions label where several more CDs have been released.

Steve Roach & Roger King's
Country & Ambient Music
Steve Roach is known for his expansive spacescapes and techno-tribal atmospheres, but on his album, DUST TO DUST (Projekt) he explored the landscapes and textures of the mythic American west. He trades in his didgeridoo for a harmonica and is joined by guitarist Roger King. King's guitars evoke the lonesome prairie of the west, recalling Ry Cooder's score to "Paris, Texas." Steve Roach and Roger King talk about their atmospheric soundtrack for a Sergio Leone western of the mind.

Steve and Roger haven't recorded together since this release, although King mastered many of Roach's recordings. Since this feature ran in 1998, Steve Roach has picked up his own electric guitar has been using it on his recordings.

Steve Roach, Phone Home (1997)
Steve Roach has charted a few new directions in his career and his 1997 album suggested a return home. It's called ON THIS PLANET (Fathom). However, which planet is open to question. We journeyed on this planet and on the concert stage with Steve Roach who talked about his album, energized by live performances.


This was the last performance of music ever in Steve Roach's Los Angeles Timeroom studio. Shortly after this performance, Roach packed up his gear and moved to Tucson, Arizona. Roach played several short pieces and one long track, Destination Horizon, which now sits as the last epic sequencer piece from Roach's pre-DREAMTIME RETURN era. An edited version of that track is on the first Echoes Living Room Concert CD. This concert also provided the title track to Steve Roach's WORLD'S EDGE (Fortuna) album.

In this 1999 performance, synthesist Steve Roach came to the Echoes living room, creating a half hour techno-tribal soundscape of immersive atmospheres synthesizers, flutes, didgeridoo and rocks. Touching on themes from his albums ON THIS PLANET and LIGHT FANTASTIC (Hearts of Space), Roach calls up the spirits of a new world.

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