Maximo Corbacho: Vestiges
Vestiges , by Maximo Corbacho, is definitely in what you might call the "school of Steve Roach." There are the same percussion rhythms backed by floating synthesizer chords, and the same touches of exotic and "primitive" instrumentation such as rattles and rainsticks. The album also appears to cover the same geographic territory as Roach, the open vastness of deserts and big skies. The liner notes and titles are in English, as if it were meant for an American market. (The English texts on the album, composed by Spanish-speakers, could use some proofreading.) Though Spain has its own vast desert landscapes and an aboriginal tradition that far pre-dates anything Native American, there is nothing specifically Spanish about Corbacho's music except perhaps the use of castanets in one or two pieces.
Corbacho may derive his music from Roach and company, but he is not by any means just an imitator. His harmonies, unlike Roach's, tend more towards conventional tonality, and his sound is in general more "European" than Roach. The earlier pieces on Vestiges are the most like Roach, but the later pieces bring in influences from Euro-artists such as Vangelis and Jarre, and even the non-Euro sound of Kitaro. My choice for the best piece of the lot is number 5, "Death Valley," which features a pleasing mix of well-chosen slow harmonies, twinkling synthesizer accents and subdued percussion.
The mood of Vestiges is consistently contemplative and serene, the tempo always slow-moving. It is perfect music for dreaming and relaxation, for taking inner journeys to that beautiful, windswept uncrowded place which only exists within our minds. There is none of the angst of the "dark-ambient" type here, but it isn't over-sweet either. I find myself listening to it again and again, finding a bit of serenity each time.