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Robert Rich: Lithosphere and Electric Ladder

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A pioneer in the ambient electronic genre, Robert Rich has earned international renown and accolades for several decades.

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ROBERT RICH & IAN BODDY: Lithosphere (CD on DiN)

This release from 2005 offers 53 minutes of cerebral electronic music.

Haunting textural flows act as a durable foundation for buoyant beats and sinuous keyboards that evoke starkly technological landscapes. Sustained tones interweave with serpentine results, generating luscious tapestries of glimmering harmonics. The frequent presence of eerie effect lend an otherworldly mien to the compositions, but there's always an underlying terrestrial bond that keeps the audience grounded in a manner that strongly connects to the human psyche.

Understated rhythms provide subtle propulsion for most of these pieces. The tempos are snappy and often jovial while rarely being intrusive, guiding more than goading the music's pace.

Some of the pieces employ gritty, almost harsh noises which provide the tunes with a vivid edginess. This achieves a cosmic drama that heightens these track's ephemeral quality with a sort of faint industrial disposition. Meanwhile, other songs explore this industrial mood from a softer direction, utilizing moody ambience to create enormous regions of glistening vacuum.

Normally, one expects luxurious soundscapes from Rich and rhythmic expertise from Boddy. For this recording, though, the pair have swapped roles. The lavish textures are generated by Boddy, while Rich devotes his attention to tempos. Regardless of who's generating them, however, the tones and beats work well in tandem, producing tuneage that floats with a notable bounce.

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ROBERT RICH: Electric Ladder (CD on Soundscape Productions)

This release from 2006 features 55 minutes of energetic tuneage.

Joining Rich on this CD are: Paul Hanson and Haroun Serang.

There is a strong electricity present in this music (no pun intended.). The tunes buzz with a charge that infuses the audience with a cellular vibrancy. At the same time, an organic disposition lurks carefully in the mix, one that approximates growth and compresses seasonal blossoms into observable maturation. The unity of technology and nature is a customary undercurrent in Rich's music, and this perspective is tantamount here. The ladder is a tree, and electricity flows through its boughs like sap.

Besides utilizing a plethora of electronics, Rich coaxes some highly dazzling textures from steel guitars, producing searing dreaminess that blazes as it ascends, striving to join the sun and connect the earth with heaven. While he has employed steel guitars in previous works, their mournful strains are demonstrably more prominent in these compositions, taking center stage for long passages and dominating the lazy sonic flow with their shrill passion.

Layers of pittering rhythms play a vital role in this music, unfurling streamers of luxurious tempos that intertwine with advancing complexity until a nest of beats blur in the background amid the wavering tonalities and surging pulsations.

The presence of bassoon and saxophone in a few tracks lends a striking classical mien to the otherwise distinctly modern music.

While sedate and soothing, this music cannot be considered ambient, for it vibrates with an energy that is swift and mercurial. Emphatic pinnacles are achieved and sustained for long stretches, imbuing the music with a vivid zest--an ebullience that is rather uncharacteristic for Rich's usual soft temperament.

This heretofore unprecedented dynamic is superbly guided by Rich's sense of fluid atmospherics. Textures flow with sturdy resolve, goaded to radiance by the fresh touch of vigorous zeniths and the melodic fervor that delivers the audience to each subsequent peak of tasty resonance.

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