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Atmospheric Space
Old 31st August 2016
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Lightbulb Atmospheric Space

Hi Steve -

I'm fascinated by the tones and harmonics you've used on many of your "atmospheric space" releases, especially Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces. The tones are at once living and otherworldly; the harmonies both alien and familiar. I was hoping you would be willing to share some insight into how you achieved these wonderful sounds and maybe what inspired you to do so.

Thanks for all the inspiration you've given me over the years!


Old 1st September 2016
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Steve Roach's Avatar

Thanks Keith,
I crave to hear the sounds and harmonies that inhabit the places in-between. As you can tell I love suspended, unresolved, expanded and extended spaces that dissolve your sense of time and tap into a psychological space this is nearly impossible to define but it feels like home when you hear it. Its a sensation I hear in my imagination and need to feel in my body. Realizing this from a technical point of view starts with an array of midi hardware synths interconnected though a traditional midi patchbay where everything can be routed to each other. I devote a lots time building sounds in the various synths, over time and constant carving they build a relationships to each other, almost becoming one large instrument.
Some of the patch's are played others are self generating or making use of hold buttons, on board or stand alone sequencers running at wide range of tempos

The Oberheim Xpander and Matrix 12 are as I mention in another question my go to synths that often set the foundation.
Last year I added the DSI Prophet 12. As stand alone instrument, this can cover a lot of ground for soundscape creations. With 4 Osc. the tunings and layers can lead you to place where
Its all you need as foundation. It has a modular mind set with the modulation routings, very much like the Matrix 12 and like the recent DSI gear they have the hold button as a standard feature. For years this along with a step sequencer was missing in a lot of synths that came and went, glad this is back.

All the instruments are patched into an analog console. This is where the art of EQ and effects processing animates and brings more movement into the living soundworld.
Treating the reverb as an instrument is vital and I often use a few verbs at the same time to create the desired space, these are on there own channels as well.
As a piece evolves and the recording process begins. I perform live takes where playing synths, mixing, looping, recording on the fly sequences are all part of the moment that’s be being recorded. The automation is me doing another take, this could have a completely different shape and mood. By the the days end I could have a number of mixes to choose from or combine in the editing stage. Mystic Chords and Sacred Spaces was created in this mode. Perhaps the game changer in the atmospheric side of my work for this approach of live interaction and conducting many things at once is heard on The Magnificent Void, these session were so dense and immersive I have no memory of how I created that music.
Steve Roach: The Magnificent Void
Old 2nd September 2016 | Show parent
Here for the gear

Originally Posted by Steve Roach View Post
Thanks Keith,
I crave to hear the sounds and harmonies that inhabit the places in-between.
And what amazing places they are! Thanks so much for the detailed reply. I have quite a bit of vintage gear as well as some modern DSI and other pieces. I come from a jazz background, so the extended harmonies are comfortable for me, but I always seem to resolve them, make them sweet. I'm going to try to stay in suspension without resolution, and see if I can discover some sound worlds of my own.

Thanks again!

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