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Earth Island conjures up swirling apparitions from the past and the future. For STEVE ROACH, JORGE REYES and SUSO SAIZ,, there were no boundaries, only waves of sound splashing against the big island we call Earth, with mammoth beats, Mayan trumpets and alien tone colors. When STEVE ROACH, JORGE REYES and SUSO SAIZ, recorded their first album under the group name Suspended Memories last year, each individual was a respected recording artist in his own right. Yet the overwhelming response to Forgotten Gods suggests that the force of this international ensemble may be even greater than the sum of its parts. This 1993 HOS release received superior ratings in Downbeat, Pulse! and CD Review, made several critics' annual Top 10 lists, and was recently nominated for a NAIRD award. That's just in the U.S. The group's growing international following led to a whirlwind tour of Spain and a well-received appearance at Germany's Klang Art new music festival.
A number of artists worldwide have already hailed Suspended Memories as an important inspiration. One appreciative musician called the team of Roach, Reyes and Saiz "the ambient supergroup." Critic and radio producer John Diliberto, however, summed it up best in his CD Review critique: "This album reveals new crevices of sound, new interplays of culture, new voices from the past," later adding: "You don't experience Forgotten Gods, you are transformed with it."
The musicians themselves haven't had the time to rest on their laurels. They were also transformed by the experience and couldn't wait to jump off the creative edge together again. With Forgotten Gods barely in stores last spring, the trio juggled European concert dates with recording sessions for a new Suspended Memories release. The schedule was grueling - intensive, highly improvisatory performances alternating with all-night brainstorms in studios from Madrid to Northern Germany.
It was a far cry from the seclusion of Roach's Arizona-based studio where Forgotten Gods was recorded. There, the primal magic and serenity of the Sonoran desert nourished the group's initial, neo-ritualistic excursion. But in Europe, the gods were buried under thousands of years of architecture, etiquette, industry and complacency. Still, the trio managed to map out places in between and outside Old World decorum, finally blasting through the confines of time and space as they united cultures, instruments and musical styles with sounds that seemed to be seeping in from some parallel universe.
With its mammoth beats, ceremonial rhythms, wailing Mayan trumpets, growling didgeridoos, Mexican field recording fragments, alien tone colors and surrealistic electric guitar melodies, Earth Island conjures up swirling apparitions from the past and the future. For Roach, Reyes and Saiz, there were no boundaries, only waves of sound splashing against the big island we call earth, washing relics from some distant clan onto new shores, eroding the conventions of the present and carrying the remains out to sea.