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Robert Rich - Electric Ladder CD (album) cover

ELECTRIC LADDER

Robert Rich

 

Progressive Electronic

4.00 | 1 ratings

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colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Robert Rich is very well known in the world of ambient and is also known for being multifaceted in the genre. He's crafted very successful works of ambient drone, world music, and sometimes he even rides on the edge of IDM.

On Electric Ladder he creates primarily ambient soundscapes but are considerably energetic, highly sequenced, and also uses a little of the jungle-music type of influenced found on many of his albums like Ylang and Rainforest (possibly his most popular album), but the samples of tropical birds and tribal percussion are nowhere to be found. Instead, the amazonian twist on this album is very light and exists only in atmosphere -- the way that I personally believe it should've been in the first place -- and doesn't distract much from the misty, tropical soundscapes that have been crafted to sound so perfect. These tropical elements come mainly from the use of marimba-sounding electronic sequencers that generate both basslines and melodies in the forefront, and they don't come off as sounding cheesy because it seems that he's realized that the more authentic sounding percussion usually does sound cheesy and has instead opted for a more obvious synthesized tone.

The album opens with the title track, starting off with glitchy high-pitched noise and a swelling buzz that emanates from out of the background that sounds kind of unsettling at first before it morphs into a consuming groan that continues to evolve into a convoluted melody that sounds almost exactly like the beginning of Terry Riley's Rainbow in Curved Air. It eventually gets darker in tone as it further develops a large array of background percussive elements and short sequencer melodies to the point where it becomes hypnotizing, but never lets go of being intoxicatingly psychedelic. I explain the track because the first few minutes of it are easily the worst on the album -- if it seems like something that you might enjoy, then you should have no trouble being pleased with this whole hour that Robert Rich has crafted.

Being primarily an ambient album, many of the tracks kind of meld into each other as the album goes on, but some individual tracks, like the title track described above, do stand out above the rest. "Sky Tunnel" is the least ambient and sounds more like a keyboard solo- artist's composition based on the melodies and rhythm of tribal celebration music, sometimes being so active near the end that it sounds like a symphony of tribal wind instruments. "Aquifer" is the most ambient track on the album and is centered around wooden flute, the subtle sounds of dripping water, an void-like drone, and distant rattling that comes and goes -- it sounds like exploring a newly discovered cave in the amazon during a day of spelunking.

The entire listening experience of Electric Ladder is similar experience to the look of the album's cover. This could be the soundtrack for an entire day of walking on the grounds of a rainforest and peering up through the treetops only to vaguely see the sun shining through the canopy, heavily shaded but comfortable and harmless. Electric Ladder is a very good ambient album with that special twist that uniquely identifies it as a Robert Rich production, and it's one of his best and most modern albums yet as well as one that successfully accumulates elements from past achievements in his career.

colorofmoney91 | 4/5 |

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