Steve Roach is an absolute master of his craft, a man who has been producing countless numbers of atmospheres since the early eighties. Skeleton Keys is his newest offering from Projekt Records, and it is much different than anything I’ve heard from him prior. This could be because I’ve only heard a few records from him, (Dreamtime Return, Soma, The Desert Inbetween, Immersion Five and Landmass respectively) but I would most certainly place Skeleton Keys in the realms of unexpected spatial and/or robotic-themed soundscapes. It sounds like a melding between classical compositions and something truly out of this world, making me feel like I’m on a sort of spacecraft where these sounds are commonplace to the crew aboard. Perhaps I could even liken this to the kind of music that android type beings would enjoy as they walk down the streets of a very different society, where also the screech of hover cars and fill the air and a fluorescent sun fills the sky. Yet in the track titles alone, I can discern some sort of electronic artistry at foot, particularly in “The Function Inside The Form 8:23” and “Escher’s Dream Is Dreaming 9:48” which seem to convey the same effect that one might get from viewing a fine work of art, except that Roach’s brushes and paint are his synths and the canvas is your ears. It certainly seems like the kind of music that would illustrate the futurisms made by the geometric obsessed M.C. Escher and feels like a mathematical equation in its composition. It’s a very lively piece, whereas much of the work I’ve heard from Roach has been largely calm and contemplative. It also seems to speak to the left-brained logic, while tapping at the door of the right-brained creative. There’s a good balance here, while airy synths help to decorate the background of beats and rhythms that I can only describe as being in constant motion. It feels like the soundtrack of our human technological existence in this era and seems to demonstrate the active robot mind of which we’re all slowly evolving towards. As I said in the beginning of the review, it sounds like the kind of music that androids might listen to in a vast future-world, yet we might be those kinds of androids that I mentioned. In any case, Roach has once again achieved a masterpiece and I’d consider this one of his best works by far. It’s something I could put on at nearly any time to get the synapses flowing (I actually feel a slight spark in brain function, which means that this must speak to my cognitive senses) and it feels like a morning work-out or a cup of coffee for the mind. If you’re in need of a quick boost, or you just want to explore futuristic landscapes, then I would highly recommend it. As a matter of fact, The Grim Tower definitely recommends Skeleton Keys and we think you’ll definitely find something within these elaborate and complex tapestries. It’s most definitely a work of art in audio.
(8 Tracks 73:00)