Steve Roach / Brian Parnham | The Desert Inbetween

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The Desert Inbetween

by Steve Roach / Brian Parnham

Roach teams up with fellow synthesist / percussionist / didgeridoo player Parnham for a masterful collaboration of organic, tribal ambient rhythms, nuanced hand-made sounds and searing textures.
Genre: Electronic: Ambient
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Opening Sky
11:03 album only
2. Ancestral Passage
9:19 album only
3. Serpent Gulch
11:11 album only
4. Somewhere Between
7:13 album only
5. Spirit Passage
4:14 album only
6. Return to the Underground
17:14 album only
7. When the Raven Flies
6:31 album only


Album Notes
Steve Roach's unique soundquests continue to take him and his listeners on powerful journeys to worlds at once alien and familiar. On The Desert Inbetween, Roach teams up with fellow synthesist/percussionist/didgeridoo player Brian Parnham to explore a hybrid electronic acoustic soundworld sure to please listeners of Suspended Memories and Origins-era tribalism as well as The Serpent's Lair-styled electronics.
The blending of highly-altered organic sounds and instruments (voices, bells, didgeridoo & percussion, Waterphone), electric guitar and a vast array of analog and digital instruments connects deep into the primal mind. Drawing inspiration from the stark and magnificent expanses of the desert southwest, this project explores the outer edges of solitude: psychological states accessed when the imagination is cut free from daily concerns and permitted to focus on the essentials.

The Desert Inbetween expresses a longing for a state of beautiful isolation. The desert bakes away the superfluous to bring about a heightened state of self awareness, the expanse in between ordinary reality and special states of connected, creative awareness.

The desert has long been a landscape that holds great inspiration for musical artists, writers and painters. To the receptive, it immediately provides a more direct path to the deeper self and source of one's artistic impulses. As the land of extremes, the desert is alive with beauty, stark vastness, magnificent vistas and silence. All of these places are expressed on The Desert Inbetween. Both artists know this desert realm after years of being immersed in this environment. Either as a metaphor for the inner world or a direct interpretation, the dynamic and subtle interweave of this experience is clearly alive here.

The Desert Inbetween is a masterwork collaboration of organic, tribal ambient rhythms, nuanced hand-made sounds and searing textures.

A review from
Steve Roach's continual expression of artistic intent via regular releases continues into 2011 with The Desert Inbetween, in this case also being the latest of one of his many collaborations. Brian Parnham, a protégé of Roach for some years, has explored both similar sonics and, given works like The Broken Silence and Between Here & There, thematics -- both artists clearly find a deep inspiration and fascination in dry, empty, and contemplative Southwest surroundings. The Desert Inbetween is almost a natural outgrowth of their individual approaches; hearing both the steady, echoed drumming familiar in much of Roach's work as well as Parnham's loops of didgeridoo on the first track, "Opening Sky" -- if indeed they aren't playing each other's "typical" instrumentation in the end -- shows right off the bat how the two easily mesh forces. Song titles such as "Spirit Passage" and "Return to the Underground" underscore the overarching themes of transition and void suggested by the title in turn; the instrumentation throughout, via entrancing if unsurprising motifs of reverb, distant drumming, half-heard voices, and sounds that could be animals or could be something else, combines to feed into the sense of flow instead of simply stasis -- traveling without moving, if one likes. The deep drones that recur throughout as well -- the echoed bell sounds and much more on "Somewhere Between" being a clear highlight, all drawn-out texture as vast soundscape -- are all the more striking as a result. - Ned Raggett
A review from
The immense ambient expanse of The Desert Inbetween, the newest Steve Roach collaboration, this one with Brian Parham, explores a desert of secret places where there should be none. Using eerie and expanded tones to represent the chaotic environment of a land where few can exist outside the fear of the unknown, and the unforgiving.

Metaphorically, the composers may have used this tone painting to examine the seemingly empty but fully lethal darkness that resides in “The Desert Inbetween” our own lives. A proper visit to this latest ambient episode of darkness yields the usual experience of an hour of departure that remains long after the voluntary immersion.

The Desert Inbetween applies its continuity with a bridged seven tracks. And while the titles act as a sort of signpost, or mile marker, they are truly segments of a massive symphony to be played back in its entirely, at each sitting. Steve Roach has long successfully created the musical equivalent of the various stages of humanity and their struggles mixed with the confusion of their darkness. It is a recurring musical trademark that sifts through these theatres of life, often with attendant fear. Brian Parnham, Roach’s co-composer of this album, brings a strong set of instrumental and percussion skills, as well as strong visionary composition to the completeness of The Desert Inbetween.

If you like a great ambient experience, an often unvisited treat since the early days of Rock and the brilliance of great composers (Hoenig, Froese, to name a few pioneers), then the immersive ambient darkness if The Desert Inbetween will trip your brain with explosive synaptic impact. Visit The Desert Inbetween. Like much of Steve Roach ambient works, you won’t soon forget it.

A review from
Both Steve Roach and Brian Parnham are known for years as purveyors of the sound of deserts and expansive, remote places. As the press sheet explains, the album draws inspiration from the stark and magnificent expanses of the desert southwest. While expressing a longing for a state of beautiful isolation, the project explores the outer edges of solitude: psychological states accessed when the imagination is cut free from daily concerns and permitted to focus on the essentials.
The hybrid electro-acoustic soundworld The Desert Inbetween is the culmination of their efforts, a 67-minute strong organic soundscape with searing textural tapestries, assorted tribal/ethnic rhythms and elements, delivered in seven tracks. It also sees the return of Steve’s soft yearning e-guitar on certain spots, something I personally never been too fond of as he started using it on e.g. "Midnight Moon", and some hybrid grooves (e.g. the dynamic "Serpent Gulch") while Brian adds bits of didgeridoo from his side.

The immense vastness, imaginary vistas and bare silence shimmer through the veins of this album. Keep in mind it’s not that quiet, as groovy undercurrents and assorted percussion from time to time lend it an active "vibe". In my opinion, the deep atmospheric, the hypnotic and the immersive best surface on the 17-minute "Return to the Underground".

The Desert Inbetween is recommended for those who care for an assemblage of highly-altered organic sounds and instruments, travellers to worlds once alien and familiar, next to Roach’s tribal-infused Origins-period and the two Suspended Memories projects. © Bert Strolenber



to write a review

Richard Gurtler

Organic tribal ambience at its most brilliant level!!!
Two fellow travelers, Steve Roach & Brian Parnham, have joined their forces together for this exciting trip into the expansive arid regions of the Southwest deserts. My expectations were of course really high, because some of their latest releases like "Nightbloom" or "The Broken Silence" easily made my highlight list of 2010 season. And the album opens very impressively and colorfully, "Opening Sky", with its slowly gradual atmosphere leads into tribal uplifting parts that later return to peacefully floating finale. Deeper drones with gentle drumming announce "Ancestral Passage", accompanied by distant voices and various organic instruments and environmental sounds, but the thunderstorm turns this cut into deeper and darker, but grandiose and sensual terrains, while water sounds, rattles and other unique sound sources are briskly swirling around my ears. This is pure bliss!!! "Serpent Gulch" turns very soon into absolutely euphoric composition with sharply rhythmed parts, amazing percussions (I love that distant metallic sound...) and frantic didgeridoo, while the last third of the piece weaves into darker mysterious realms. Magnificent!!! Denser "Somewhere Between" is later joined by a variety of percussions, bells and other sound sources. Cloud of beautiful and hypnotic drones on "Spirit Passage" is supported by distant voices and various crispy sonic ingredients, truly magical! But the sound wizardry continues also on 17-minute epic, "Return To The Underground", it keeps its hypnotic feel from previous piece, but again spiced by many carving, circulating and evolving unique sound elements, some of them at the end almost alien-like sounding. Mysteriously deep, stimulating and powerful journey!!! More tranquil "When The Raven Flies" brings the album safely to a close. Even if the Southwest stark landscapes have been explored by Steve (and also by Brian) many times before, they still hold huge inspiration for both of them and I am very thankful for that, because their sonic sculpting on "The Desert Inbetween" is just amazing, perfectly layered, structured and detailed, each composition is packed with unique textures, sounds and atmospheres. Organic tribal ambience at its most brilliant level!!! And all that with gorgeous 6-panel digipak packaging with natural rock bridge image on the cover.

Richard Gürtler (Feb 18, 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia)