Steve Roach: Skeleton Keys
While Steve Roach was recording his album Empetus (1986), did he have occasion to contemplate what of his future self was within him right then? Nearly thirty years later, listening to Skeleton Keys (73’57”) we may find traces of this past work, as well as a touch of the prior man himself. While Skeleton Keys may be compared in both cause and effect to a few earlier releases, it does again find Roach having great success at exploring the expansive promise of this musical sort. Converting electrical current into music, his tone tools produce myriad lines of consistent metrical pattern – which our listening minds integrate into a unified sonic structure. Creating a driving pulse out of multiple rows of recurring notes, our emotions intensify with each growing cycle. As luminous open chords suggest a sense of infinite space, our thoughts blend with the rushing, breathless arrangements. Synchronized sequencers pump out a protean array of throbbing rhythms and echoing tones, and charge brawny oscillators to dart out, in, up and down intervals and scales in fascinating, minimalistic shifts. This machinery lends Roach the remarkable ability to manipulate volume, bulk and dimension, and therefore the unique power felt in each of Skeleton Keys‘ eight tracks. To fully enjoy this music the listener must be curious – not just with how it was made, or by whom, but with what happens when we allow ourselves to momentarily disappear into it.