A 2006 collaborative electronic album from Steve Roach and Loren Nerell. Terraform emerged from their mutual desire to create an organic, surreal and deeply ambient environment of languorous humid soundscape environments. A kind of audio terraforming developed; heavily textured and mood altering, the long uninterrupted flow seemingly slows time down by way of the surreal dark ambient soundforms found in much of Roach's work. Nerell brings the steamy, evanescent blend of his mutated Indonesian sources, a signature sound that defines his previous releases for Amplexus, Side Effects and Soleilmoon.
Vivid ecosystems of sound abound on this field recording of the mind. Drones, liquid resonances and soothing walls of sound wash over the listener. This abstract sound painting includes hints of crickets, sounds vaguely suggestive of water, and deep otherworldly echoes. The worlds Nerell and Roach have built do not exist on any map; their impact goes well beyond what can merely be perceived with one's ears.
For Terraform, they have opted for building a galaxy from scratch. The result is a place of incredible lushness, borderless vastitude, sudden atmospheric swings, wordless spirituality and many different colors turning in slow motion like shimmering grains of sand inside an infinite kaleidoscope. For most of their duration, these pieces do not want to go anywhere, they just are, existing and breathing in all of the detailed richness of a physical landscape, allowing the gaze of the listener to stray and inspect its structures from the purple-tinged horizon to the dense brushwoods of its rainforest and the lifelines of its lush and moist green leaves. There is a sound of crickets running through almost all tracks like a beacon, assuring the wanderer of the safety of his trajectory by its presence and warning him inside the cavernous wastelands of its absence. Of course, all of these animal allusions, all of the noises, all of the swelling and congesting pads and liquid resonances are all highly artificial once you start observing their characteristics in an intellectual fashion, there is not the slightest doubt that this is not a field recording, but in fact a collage of synthesized harmonies and effects. --Tokafi.com
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As far as what side of Steve Roach is found here, I'd say this: take away the tribal rhythms and the hypnotic, expressively minimal melodies / chords pervading most of his work, and "Terraform" is the sort of ambience that's left... a pleasant wash of bubbling, liquid sound here, a cold, never-ending, unsympathetic echo there. There's a lot of sound, it's powerful, it's effective, but it's very difficult to call to mind when it's not playing... there's nothing to latch onto. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however.
Two of the four pieces here are standout tracks. "Gravity of Liquids" fits its title quite well, and is one of the more beautiful and peaceful tracks in Roach's catalogue... It feels like fresh air, like a cool breeze on a warm day, or like watching the sun reflect off of the surface of a body of water. It begins bubbling and iridescent, and becomes smoother and deeper as it goes.
"Echopoiesis" is the track immediately following, but the mood could not be more different from "Gravity of Liquids". It's one of Roach's most successfully alien, cold pieces, evoking dark grey / black metallic images and darkness. Not for the faint of heart; this track can make any room into a lightless hell.
In conclusion, somehow "Terraform" manages to be stereotypical Steve Roach even though it's a first-time collaboration with another artist. This doesn't stop it from being a GOOD Steve Roach album, however, so if you're a fan, pick it up. If you're new to Steve Roach, though, start with Structures from Silence or Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces (part 1).