Title: Quiet Friends: A 30th Anniversary Tribute to Steve Roach’s Structures From Silence
Release Date: 2014 Sept 30
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Label: Free Floating Music
I have held back on writing about this release since it first came out almost a month ago. Why? It’s a massive release that deserved many listens, and quite a fair amount of meditation on before I could reach a point where I could clearly formulate what I wanted to say about the quiet friends celebration of Structures From Silence.
Quiet Friends Celebration Of Structures From Silence
What do World War I, The American Revolution and the 1951 National League Baseball Pennant have in common? They all have events associated with them that have been referred to as the “Shot heard ’round the world“. And, there have been many events since that have been described in similar terms.
In the world of music, there are artists that can tell you with absolute clarity the first time they heard a recording, or saw a performance that completely redefined the world of music for them. Some artists will point to jazz recordings like ‘Kind Of Blue’ by Miles Davis or ‘A Love Supreme’ by John Coltrane. Rock musicians might point to a particular Rolling Stones or Beatles record. For ambient musicians, many will point to ‘Structures From Silence’ by Steve Roach as that defining moment.
Now, thirty years after the release of ‘Structures From Silence’ some of the preeminent electronic and ambient artists have come together to release a tribute to this seminal recording. This is a massive release contains well over two hours of music inspired by ‘Structures From Silence’ without attempting to duplicate the original.
Traditionally, tribute releases are full of artists that try to duplicate the original work. This can be a double-edged sword. They can either feel like cheap plastic reproductions of the original work, or they can be a showcase for the true affection the artists have for the work. Instead of falling into the potential trap of releasing a recording that would be considered an inadequate interpretation of Roach’s masterpiece, Brad Ross-MacLeod took a different approach, asking musicians to submit pieces for the collection that were inspired by Structures From Silence.
No matter which piece one listens to on this work, it’s easy to hear the careful thought and care put into the compositions. The mark of the work that inspired these artists is clear, while the works themselves are unique and personal. And in all of this, they are an excellent complement to Structures From Silence. This isn’t a sequel in the way a writer might write a sequel to a novel. Instead this is a new body of work that picks up many themes and concepts of the original, the way writers have picked up symbols and themes and used them over the centuries in their writings.
In the end, the collection of pieces on Quiet Friends display the unique way in which a single work can inspire artists to work in different directions. Some of works bare the hallmarks of the gorgeous, lush harmonies of the original work, some bear the timeless feeling of the synthesizer sweeps, etc. Some of the works take elements and integrate them into new contexts, such as sequenced aggregations, or more melodic pieces.
Steve Roach wrote in the release notes for this recording:
This gathering of quiet friends—this experience of hearing the mutual resonation to a sound and space we each, in our own way, connect to—-stirs so many complex and wonderful emotions for me.
I think it will stir similarly complex emotions in anyone who listens to this work. This is a work of endless depth, and fascination that may take a lifetime to fully experience. This is a work that brings the concept of a tribute to a higher level, one in which the original work is expanded, and amplified in many ways through many perspectives and interpretations that transcend time and the dimensions that we inhabit.