After 30 years apart, on 5 December 2023 Steve Roach & Robert Rich resumed their fascinating alliance at the Club Congress in Tuscon, Arizona - an event that was recorded live and produced into their album Waves of Now (124:28). Connected to the two previous Roach/Rich collaborations, Strata (1990) and Soma (1992) Waves of Now feels as if sound has materialized out of memory. This dream of a work drifts its way through an intriguing soundscape of breathy flutes, serpentine steel guitar, resounding piano notes and an alternating current of synthesized harmony and rapturous electronic forms. Free-flowing in structure and featuring a range of contrasted states, colors and tonality Waves of Now is so enveloping that you may want to heighten its impact by closing your eyes. The 16 tracks run from live versions of studio works and solo expressions to in-the-moment collaborations where signature sounds of one musician are elevated and enhanced by the other - converted into something fascinatingly different from the original, while remaining hauntingly familiar. From soft moonlit chords and floating synth atmospheres, to kinetic percussion loops and electro-groove curvets this work extends all the way to the horizon, yet still manages to offer many fine details. Driven by the mental meter of cerebral scales a forward momentum meets molten motoring synth arpeggios as sequencers echo out into monumental proportions. Beyond the heated sonic rush this duo also conjures up cooler moods. From each zone arises a distinctive intensity, showing an expertly guided energy arcing magically from beginning to end. Pleasingly inventive, ethereal and illuminating, the electrifying immediacy felt throughout Waves of Now points to endless future possibilities. This kind of live music is an art in the making. Each of its new complexes of sound is an elaborate expression in the poetics of the present. The liminal realm realized during this long-awaited concert hints at the infinite. But Roach & Rich find it necessary to bring an audience with them as they navigate interior landscapes - asking their listeners to please stop reacting to the outer world for a spell, and spend some time experiencing that which may be found within.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 8 February 2024