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Steve Roach's "Dreamtime Return" is the first ambient soundscape album I purchased back in 1988. Unfortunately, I was too young to appreciate its brilliance until my mind could fully realize the true diamond of pure ambience I had "stumbled" upon. Initially, I was attracted to the cover, but failed to realize the timeless harmonies I had acquired, as evidence by its sustained price. Roach was never able to duplicate the timeless, totally agreeable and mystic collection of tracks, all recorded in Australia with naturally made instruments, including the ubiquitous didgeridoo, pleasantly cast against a backdrop of cave echoes, water drops and indescribable, reverbial twangs that only Steve Roach could create.
Included in this massive, 140-minute ageless collection are sounds of the Aborigines whom Roach befriended during his time in Australia recording "Dreamtime Return," and their haunting, yet pleasant vocals burst forth on "Red Twilight with the Old Ones," a track that could never be duplicated with such originality, such respect for the oldest civilization on earth. I've found that the year doesn't matter. I drop the attitude, close the door, put on the headphones with REPEAT ON, and drift off to a time and place from which I sometimes never want to leave. Roach has struck gold with "Dreamtime Return," and its perfectly balanced waveforms are nothing short of theraputic. Stress, impatience, frustration, rage--all negative emotions--completely dissolve with even one uninterrupted session of "Dreamtime Return," either Disc 1 or Disc 2 on its own or in tandem. "Dreamtime Return," in my book, can even cure insomnia with its matchless blend of pure musical frequencies, like dessert for the brain. No other ambient album comes close, except perhaps "Quiet Music," which caught the coattails of "Dreamtime Return", having very similar qualities, yet distinctly different patterns.
But we must be clear on one thing: "Dreamtime Return," or any other album that Steve has produced has nothing to do with "New Age," and would probably be offended at such a label. No. Soundscape is the proper term, if the genre must be pegged, because it is exactly that. Mr. Roach takes his sounds and shapes them in unison with the landscape. No other artist of our time understands his own work better. I'm sure that if I would have somehow missed Roach's recordings, either through neglect or indifference, the quality of my life and well-being would have suffered. "Dreamtime Return" is the pure essence of what ambient soundscapes were meant to be, and it will never leave my collection. It's as good today as it is tomorrow. I feel sad for those listeners who fail to realize that.