This 2019 Grammy Nominee Is a Synesthete

Steve Roach will name a new work "Synesthesia."

Posted Feb 10, 2019

Ambient music genius Steve Roach, nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award, took a break in his Tucson-area studio, known as the "Timeroom" recently, and told me the news. He's going to name a new work, "Synesthesia."

"I am currently in the final stages of a new release that embraces the fusion of being both a synthesist (one who creates with a synthesizer) and synesthete."

 S.E. Yeatts
Steve Roach has several forms of synesthesia.
Source: S.E. Yeatts

He's been moving toward embracing his poly-synesthesia for some time. He points out his recent release,  Painting in the Dark, hints at it. "This is clearly about the correlation of the sound-color-taste-texture and three-dimensional sound activation and immersion experience I strive for in my work."

He says that in addition to his own relationship with the trait through his life, "for years listeners have reported their own experience of synesthesia in my work. This release with its working title 'Synesthesia' will celebrate this aspect of our perception. "

He sent me these two recent examples of listeners with synesthetic responses to his music:

"With 'Molecules of Motion,' Roach creates synthesizer music that takes inspiration from the eternally morphing cycles of nature. I have very pronounced experiences of synesthesia when I listen to this disc as the constantly transforming sequences evoke visual colors and forms. At times it feels like Roach is luring us into an artfully microscopic view of the building blocks of sound that combine and build, shooting the listener out to galactic views of time and space..." said Linda Allison.

"His continuously evolving sequencer patterns evoke psychedelic mandalas expanding, contracting, turning inside out and upside down, always pulsating with a life energy that belies its electronic origins," she also said. "Deep driving rhythms support effervescent, uplifting, melodic motifs that sparkle and change color. The effect is like watching light dancing on ocean waves as the sun sets and the moon rises and the sun rises again once more. "

And a fan named Renee said, "I enjoyed Molecules of Motion; there's a wonderful synthesia with your work--while listening i keep seeing/experiencing a colorful Kadinsky painting. The best!"

Not only does Roach see colorful forms when composing or listening to music, he salivates (though does not taste anything) in response to tones. He also identifies with mirror-touch synesthesia and experiences profound empathy. A particularly beautiful compositition of his refers to this feeling: Empath Current.

A former Motocross athlete and painter, he credits his "pure" parents, particularly his very supportive mother, with giving him, an only child, the encouragement to pursue his dreams. He is an autodidact and learned the synthesizer by himself, inspired by artists like Tangerine Dream, Klaus Shulze and Vangelis at the age of 20.

Also extremely supportive is his talented wife, Linda Kohanov, best-selling author and equine expert, with whom he lives on their ranch near the studio.

I wish Steve Roach, already a winner, a great time at the Grammys today.

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