Roach, Steve and Vir Unis - Body Electric

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Projekt
Catalog Number: Projekt 90
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:31:00

Reviewing this genre of music is both the hardest and the easiest. If you aren't one to pick apart a piece by describing meter, keys, tonics, whether its atonal or tonal, then it's easy, because you can describe it on interpretive levels.

Body Electric no doubt takes its title from the Ray Bradbury novel I Sing the Body Electric. This latest release by Steve Roach, in collaboration with Vir Unis, is textured with percolating percussion of various varieties, even the synths take on percussive qualities. Each of the album's ten tracks, take as their theme some aspect of the body electric.

If you can image randomly generated fractal patterns based on the energy of the body, then you will have some idea of how this music sounds. It is atonal, and yet tonal. In some cases the circle back to the start is like a very long ellipse - a trip to the edge of the solar system and back. A better visual description is to say: look at the album cover, and think of each line an instrument bounding along in an almost endless wave. Almost, because the tracks to do come to end, rather than seamlessly melding together.

Percussion, as said, takes the forefront, while abstract voices float outside the main rhythms, like observers commenting on the goings-on. Not gods, mind you, but some entity outside - maybe it is the self looking inward.

"Gene Pool" has a keyboard soundscape that made me think briefly of those first opening moments of Gary Wright's "Dreamweaver" - those spacey synth sounds. And yet, the drumming here - digital - made me think of something else entirely: Phil Collins' "I Don't Care Anymore." They have the same tone and are almost reaching the same rhythm, though it's more the tone than anything else. This is an otherwise delicate journey along one's DNA.

This is mind music - nay, body music. Close your eyes, relax, and be taken away to your inner self. But, at the same time, you will be transported outside yourself and be able to observe the essense of being alive - never mind just human.

Okay, that does sound a bit like New Age-y "mumbo-jumbo." It's not. In the same way a long, warm bath can sooth away the stresses of the day (maybe it's a girl thing, that. I dunno), so can this music. It's not quite bio-feedback, but in a way it is. Because you will get out of it, what you put into it.

So, the bottom line is - is it good? There is the danger in this genre to hit upon some great tone (or preset) and use it in every track, rarely varying from the base. But, the converse to that is that you can set a theme up with this tone, and include the variety with other instruments and textures. It is this latter path these two artists have choosen. This is a concept album, where each track supports the main theme, not just by title, but by mood.

So, rather than good or bad, is it effective? The answer is yes. Would I recommend it to you, to anyone? Yes.

Born Of Fire (9:12) / Pure Expansion (10:16) / Mind Link (7:07) / Gene Pool (5:40) / Synaptic Gap (1:57) / Homunculus Within (4:15) / Bloodstreaming (3:10) / Solar Tribe (4:13) / The New Dream (3:58) / Cave Of The Heart (7:00)

Steve Roach - analog and digital instruments, groove creation, prehispanic and shamanic percussion, voice, atmospheres, soundworlds, and processing
Vir Unis - fractal groove creation, synthesizers, treatments, atmospheres, and soundworlds
Omar Faruk Tekbilek - Ney solo (1)
Roger King - bass (1, 9) and guitar (1)
Linda Kohanov - voices (2)

Moebius (1979) Now (1982)
Traveler (1983/1987)
Structures From Silence (1984/1987/2001)
Quiet Music 1 (1986)
Empetus (1986)
Quiet Music 2 (1986)
Quiet Music 3 (1986)
Starflight (multi-artist compilation) (1986)
Western Spaces (w/Kevin Braheny) (1987)
The Leaving Time (w/Michael Stearns) (1988)
Quiet Music (1988) Dreamtime Return (1988/2005)
Stormwarning (Live) (1989/1992/1999)
Desert Solitaire (w/Braheny and Stearns) (1989)
Strata (w/Robert Rich) (1990)
Australia: Sound Of The Earth (w/David Hudson and Sarah Hopkins) (1990)
Forgotten Gods (w/Jorge Reyes and Suso Saiz as Suspended Memories) (1992/1993)
World's Edge (1992)
Now/Traveler (1992)
Soma (w/Rich) (1992)
The Lost Pieces(1993/1995)
Ritual Ground (1993/2000)
Origins (1993)
The Dream Circle (1994/1999)
Earth Island (w/Reyes and Saiz, as Suspended Memories) (1994)
Artifacts (1994)
The Dreamer Descends (1995) Kiva (w/Stearns and Ron Sunsinger) (1995)
Well Of Souls (w/Obmana) (1995)
Amplexus: Collected Works (w/Thom Brennan and Vidna Obmana) (1995)
The Magnificient Void (1996)
Halcyon Days (w/Stephen Kent and Kenneth Newby) (1996)
Caverns Of Sirens (w/Obmana) (1997)
On This Planet (1997)
Slow Heat (1998)
Dust To Dust (w/Roger King) (1998)
Truth & Beauty: The Lost Pieces Volume Two (1999)
Atmospheric Conditions (1999)
Ascension Of Shadows - Meditations For The Millennium (w/Obmana) (1999)
Dreaming ... Now, Then: A Retrospective 1982 - 1997 (1999)
Body Electric (w/Vir Unis) (1999)
Quiet Music -- Complete Edition (1999 reissue)
Light Fantastic (w/Obmana, Unis, and Stefin Gordon) (1999)
The Ambient Expanse (w/ Patrick O'Hearn, Obmana, ...) (1999)
Vine ~ Bark and Spore (w/Jorge Reyes) (2000)
Early Man (2000/2001) Circles & Artifacts (2000) Live Archive (w/Vidna Obmana) (2000)
Midnight Moon (2000)
Serpent's Lair (2000)
Prayer's To The Protector (2000)
Blood Machine (2001)
Core (2001)
Streams & Currents (2001)
Pure Flow: Timeroom Editions Collection 1 (2001)
InnerZone (2002)
Trance Spirits (2002)
Day Out Of Time (2002)
Darkest Before Dawn (2002)
All Is Now (2002)
Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces (2003)
Space And Time: An Introduction To The Soundworlds Of Steve Roach (2003)
Texture Maps: The Lost Pieces Vol. 3 (2003)
Life Sequence (2003)
Spirit Dome (2004)
Fever Dreams (2004)
Mantram (2004)
Holding The Space: Fever Dreams II (2004)
Places Beyond: The Lost Pieces 4 (2004)
Possible Planet (2005)
New Life Dreaming (2005)
The Dreamtime Box (2005) (incl. remastered Dreamtime Return plus New Life Dreaming and Possible Planet)
Somewhere Else (2005)
Immersion: One (2006)
Immersion: Two (2006)
Kairos (2006)
Proof Positive (2006)
Storm Surge (2006)
Terraform (2006)
Arc Of Passion (2007)
Fever Dreams III (2007)
Immersion: Three (2007)
Stream Of Thought (2008)
Nada Terma (2008)
Empetus (2008)
Landmass (2008)
A Deeper Silence (2008)
The Memory Pool / Revealing the Secret (2008)
Destination Beyond (2009)
Steve Roach 2009 Box Set (2009)
Afterlight (2009)
Immersion: Four (2009)
Dynamic Stillness (2009)
Spirit Dome - Live Archive (2009)
Nightbloom (2010)
Sigh Of Ages (2010)
Dream Tracker (2010)
Truth & Beauty (2010)
Live At Grace Cathedral (2010)
Journey of One (2011)
Quiet Music: The Original 3-Hour Collection (2011)
Live At SoundQuest Fest (2011)
The Road Eternal (2011)
Immersion Five - Circadian Rhythms (2011)
Sounds From the Inbetween Box Set (2011)
The Desert Inbetween (2011)
Soul Tones (2012)
Tales From The Ultra Tribe (2012)
Stormwarning (Live) (2012)
Day Out of Time (2012)
Low Volume Music (2012)
Back To Life (2012)
Groove Immersion (2012)
Steve Roach 2012 Box Set (2012)
At The Edge Of Everything (2013)
Spiral Meditations (2013)
Live In Tucson 2000 (2013)
Live Transmission (2013)
Future Flows (2013)
Rasa Dance (2013)
Ultra Immersion Concert (2013)
The Ancestor Circle (2014)
Bloodmoon Rising Night 2 (2014)
The Delicate Beyond (2014)
The Delicate Forever (2014)
The Desert Collection (2014)
Structures From Silence (2014)
The Long Night (2014)
Skeleton Keys (2015)
Skeleton Keys (vinyl) (2015)
The Skeleton Collection 2005 - 2015 (2015)
Bloodmoon Rising Night 3 (2015)
Invisible (2015)
Monuments of Ecstasy (2015)

Space Dreaming (1987) (VID, oop)
Structures From Silence (1987) (VID, oop)
The Art And Vision Of James Hubbell (1989) (VID, oop)
Earth Dreaming (1989) (VID, oop)
Into The Soundcurrent: The Musical World Of Steve Roach (1997) (VID)
The Electric Body (1999) (VID, oop)
Time Of The Earth (2001) (DVD)
Borealis (2006) (DVD)
Kairos (2006) (DVD)
Day Out Of Time (2012)

Genre: Electronic

Origin US

Added: April 10th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1099
Language: english


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