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Robert Rich

Progressive Electronic

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5 stars In a perfect world, Tangerine Dream would have ended sounding this good!

Robert Rich-Filaments, 2015, is Progressive Electronic to the core, Berlin School in its bones, Contemporary Classic in its heart and environmental or Cosmic more than the usually misunderstood Ambient tagging, in its soul.

Perfection coming from a quiet unknown musician, even among the PE crowd. (Business as usual). Although it is quiet understandable, considering the inherent thinness and transparency of his musical structures from album to album, which will never outcome the disadvantage of a world of fast-noise.

Filaments consists of nine THICK individual musical structures. Each one travels its own route and direction. Each song is unique in its language and Robert Rich's personal style evolves between poles of electronic or contemporary music influences (TD & Steve Reich´s ones are quiet notable) , BUT transmuting them to his own self constructed musical idiom. The results are overwhelming opposite to my expectations. Speechless!

I have to confess, I was just expecting another Robert Rich's environmental album, to play along while I painted. I was completely wrong, this work deserves full attention to understand why it rates for me *****5 Masterwork PA stars.

Report this review (#1362844)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Robert Rich "Filaments" CD

Quite long time has passed since the last album of Robert Rich, "Nest" was released in September of 2012. However, it doesn't mean this iconic soundexplorer was silent during the last two years. On the contrary, in this period of time he resurrected his legendary sleep concert format, which firstly led to his live presentation in Krakow, Poland, in October of 2013 on Unsound festival (his first sleep concert in 15 years), and one year later, "Perpetual - A Somnium Continuum" monstrous 15 hour Blu-ray was released with 8 hours of new soundscapes. In the meantime, Darren Bergstein's Anodize label has released in December 2013 "Morphology" CD, a stellar sonic document from May 15, 2010. On the top of all that, April 2014 saw the release of "Premonitions 1980-1984", a 4 LP set featuring highly treasured pieces from cassette releases, out on German Vynil-On-Demand label. A quite productive silence... Now it's time encounter the "Filaments" odyssey!!! Released during January 2015, the first impression is splendid, no question about that, because the 6-panel digipak comes with gorgeous front and inside paintings by Nad Wolinska and Daniel Cake and photography by Christian Tanimoto III. As usual, the design and layout is expertly handled by John Bergin. This visual bliss is completed by in-depth liner notes by Robert Rich, displaying the title story behind each track, when focusing on cosmology realms. I am holding in my hands a true piece of art!!!

I am taken on the board as quick as the opening track title, 5-minute "Filaments" spreads across the listening room. The journey has been ignited with utterly immersing and spellbindingly expansive driftscape, gorgeously nuanced with cinematic climaxes, spacious quietudes and cyber-tech biotics, all intriguingly shaped by Robert Rich's innate wizardry. I would say this grandiosely stellar composition is slightly untypical for Robert Rich's soundforging. I am weightlessly drifting into ultimate sonic Heaven!!! "Majorana", with 10:45 the second longest composition, remains on the immense spacefields, cinematically undulating and guarding above euphorically swirling sequences, which continuously counterpoint with piercing lap steel cries. Also utterly gorgeous transitions emerge over the course, when celestial choir-like insignias guide the voyage, before entering breathtakingly unfathomable depths toward the end. Wow, another triumphant aural adventure showcasing musical genius of Robert Rich in full bloom!!! Shorter "Scintilla" effectively merges unmistakable sequencer work with stunningly evocative siren weeps and ear-tickling clinks. "Aetherfields" invade straightly with enigmatic reverberations, gently cacophonous and mindscaping, but wistful piano motif serenely meanders across and meticulously softens this delicate perplexity. "Entangled", the longest track clocking to nearly 11-minute mark, embraces the listener with its peaceful, but gently expressive piano, while lap steel whines ride atop along with distant pulses, which slowly permeate through the nostalgic blankets, transmute and steal the center stage as earmarking melodious meridian, sublimely joyous that is only Robert Rich, before silently fading away into infinite paradise of stillness. But my ears won't get any rest of this delight, because "Eulalia" keeps the attention with its sequencing signature wizardry, again cheerfully shimmering with distinguishingly exuberant cyber-organic percussive layer, all virtuosically reinforced by gorgeously yearning lap steel guitar imagery. Yes, the lap steel sounds in this wonderfully evocative composition are absolutely magnificent, a pure sonic bliss awaits here again, bravo, Maestro!!! With "Laniakea" some exquisitely mysterious horizons reveal, although safely floating on the waves of brightly shinning sequences. The next piece, "Aetherfolds", bridges nearly reverberating, squeaked-like sound ventures with poignantly flavored sparse piano subtleties. Stunningly peculiar, yet deeply contemplative sound collage!!! 10-minute closer "Telomere" gets back to fresh sequencer-driven domains, hauntingly winding and crescendoing through wide-screen, warmly fascinating space expanses. A very strong conclusion to this highly accomplished recording!!!

"Filaments" album is another proof of Robert Rich's musical superiority and a tremendously essential addition to his already glorious discography. Each of his new releases is worth the wait, no matter how long it takes. This album is, as always, filled with Robert's many signature sounds, even without his flute artistry this time, and trademarking perfection is displayed in every single detail of this album. Even the way the transparent tray is glued to the digipak is absolutely flawless... Aural and visual thrill is served here in huge doses, certainly another tour de force by this Californian sound aficionado!!! And don't forget, by the time I am publishing these lines, Robert is optimizing dates for his North American spring tour, with most dates during April and May, so if you have a chance, don't miss another spectacular experience!!! For those based not far from Copenhagen, Denmark, note that April 18th is a date for Robert's another sleep concert taking place in the beautiful former church of Nikolaj Kunsthal. We couldn't ask for more!!!

Richard Gürtler (Mar 22, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)

Report this review (#1544963)
Posted Sunday, March 27, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Californian Robert Rich has been producing electronically generated music for well over 30 years (being part of over 46 album releases) yet this recent release, Filaments, has garnered a lot of attention from both within and without the prog and ambient/electronica communities. Like fellow Californian Thom Brennan, Filaments shows a little bit of an edgier side to Robert's music, challenging the long-time assertion/assumption that his place was as a leader in the sleep/dream/relaxation realm of the New Age musical movement. This music also shows a bit more individual instrumental flare and isolation than most other albums of his, making it feel much more fit to be included among the Progressive Rock music scene.

Five star songs: 2. "Majorana" (10:45) (9/10); 3. "Scintilla" (3:48) (10/10); 5. "Entangled" (10:54) (10/10); 6. "Eulalia" (5:44) (10/10); 7. "Laniakea" (3:54) (9/10), and; 8. "Ætherfolds" (3:54) (9/10).

Four star songs: 1. "Filaments" (4:58) (8/10); 4. "Ætherfields" (5:22) (8/10), and; "Telomere" (9:58) (8.5/10).

Five stars; a masterpiece of progressive electronic music.

Report this review (#1605908)
Posted Monday, September 5, 2016 | Review Permalink

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