The incremental awakening of Steve Roach as a musician, an artist, and a human being continues on Sanctuary of Desire (152'49"). His decades of drones, tones and zones have become welcome adornments to the fabric of our lives. Always heading toward the horizon, yet also asking us to re-examine our present coordinates, we delight in the graceful subtlety of his music along its gradual arc of discovery. A few tracks do show uncertain beginnings, as if in some subzone of evening mist. But further along on our cerebral voyage we may more easily find the spirit of creativity fluttering and glowing safely within the more concordant passages. These most engaging and poetic movements of harmony and atmosphere offer everything from a wispy, muted melancholy to gleeful celestial verve - with we listeners left to imbue the crossing with whatever meaning it may achieve. Being that the first part of this album is set to inward drift mode, we will be wishing for some focused energy to help us traverse the second. So for our outward journey Roach conjures new, more energetic works - which rise up from the preceding low-key masterworks to levels of sustained force. For those who can hear it, the power in his multiple lines of gradually expanding and contracting sequencer patterns will combine and align perfectly with the plural neural processes of the brain. The echoing notes, bright then dark, emerging then fading, display a joyful, sensorial connection to sound. The resonance between these fragments and textures implies a twilight totality, which hopes to coalesce the nine parts into a deeply moving whole. Being there is no one grand moment where our perspectives shift, the effects of Sanctuary of Desire will be felt afterwards - when our thoughts and dreams have been lifted into higher realms. This is a music with many possible conclusions. All Roach is asking of us is to think for ourselves, and take with us his feelings of wonderment out into the world. Through our everyday actions every one of us is making tomorrow. While Sanctuary of Desire is enlivening our listening space, we must imagine what lies ahead - and then forge a future we all can recognize.
Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END - 9 November 2023