Alive in the Vortex


The two year anniversary of the release of Steve Roach’s Alive in the Vortex slipped by recently, which is also approximately the four year anniversary of the concerts, among the most pivotal live music experiences of my life.

RadHaus has been around for just about four years now, as of this writing. Coincidence? Not really; RadHaus exists as a result of this very concert. I’ve been broadcasting and recording for over 30 years. Recording this project in many ways returned me to my roots. As a snot-nosed college student, buried in an undergraduate music program, I began broadcasting at the campus classical/jazz/news station when I was 19. I learned a lot in those early days, not least of which was how very much I enjoyed recording and broadcasting live events.

The Vortex concerts brought all that back.

At the time, I was broadcasting for an internet radio station, StillStream, and when I found out that Roach was going to be performing live, I rather audaciously asked if I could broadcast the performance. I received his permission, which was cool enough right there.

As I was preparing the setup, he reached out and asked if I could record all of the concerts as well. How could I say no?

It was a fairly simple setup. Using my trusty Mackie ProFX16, I plugged in the stereo feed from the board, added my voiceover mic to another channel so I could introduce and announce the sets to our live listeners, and then just paid attention. It was an amazing experience. We recorded HOURS of material, beginning with the sound checks early on the first day of the concerts (which themselves yielded some pretty lovely results), and running through all three sets, about 90 minutes each.

The final set is the one you hear on the official release, and it was amazing. The evolution of sounds over the two days, the synergy with Audri Philips’ visual projections, the intimacy of the Vortex Immersion dome — these all added up to a mind-blowing sensory experience. And, Roach told me later, because I had mentioned that his Structures From Silence (1984) was so influential for me as a broadcaster back in those snot-nose days, he added some nods to it in his performances. That made me smile.

The album release is gorgeous on its own, and at the same time doesn’t come close to replicating the actual live experience. You really had to be there.

Listen to the album for yourself! Not just because RadHaus recorded it, but because it’s an amazing culmination of decades of sampling, performing, and tweaking by this alte-meister of the ambient-electronic music scene.


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Posted on

November 27, 2017

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