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Robert Rich - Tactile Ground CD (album) cover

TACTILE GROUND

Robert Rich

 

Progressive Electronic

3.96 | 7 ratings

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TCat
4 stars Robert Rich has been around influencing music (especially ambient and electronica music) and releasing many albums since 1982. He is a multi-instrumentalist and builds his own acoustic and electronic instruments, but most of his music consists of ambient instrumental music and the utilization of microtones. He is famous for his all-night sleep concerts and lectures on music.

This album, 'Tactile Ground', released early in 2019, consists of two parts, the first of which is subtitled 'Location'. This part is quite ambient and all 6 of the tracks run from 7 minutes to 14 minutes. 'The Sentience of Touch' is quite lovely, being led off with a piano with other atmospheric tones and layers. The piano stands out the most and plays in a loose, melodic style, but drops out about half-way through the track. After that, the music is mostly electronic with a lot of ambience. This ambient and minimal sound continues through 'Eroding Columns' and 'Shrouded Lattice' that puts the listener in a peaceful mood, evoking soundscapes that hint at the slow creation or destruction of natural forces. Just like watching the formation of frost or ice, or the eroding of a river, in human terms of time, you don't see, or hear, a lot of movement in these tracks.

This changes to a subtle degree in the next track 'A Skein for Skin', which seems to be a bit warmer, and utilizes some nice, ethereal effects behind a lovely, wandering but more musical line. This continues through 'The Abiding Wheel' which adds to the effects and introducing some percussive sounds, which gives it a tribal feel and a slight bit more intensity. The passage of time now is more noticeable in the music. Continuing on, the music flows into the longest track at over 14 minutes, 'Language of Breezes'. Reflecting the name of the track, this one has an airy feel to it, and slowly, the music starts to dissolve from the previous intensity. As it continues, layers drop off almost unnoticed and soon you are left with the slow, moving ambience as before. Even this continues to lessen in intensity until you are left with complete quiet.

The second part is subtitled 'Dislocation'. It consists of 9 tracks, most around 7 ' 9 minutes, but with a few around 5 minutes, and while it stays ambient, the overall feel of this part is experimental. Starting with 'Radiant Groundlines', we get a high- pitched echoing effect with synth chords fading in and out over a quiet drone effect. A sax-like effect and another microtonal effect produce a quasi-melody passing it back and forth. 'Haptic Incursions' continues with the echoing effects, but a dark presence is looming underneath percussive tones. 'Glassmaker's Sand' goes even more ambient as the main drone drops off and the only sounds are slightly percussive tones, but a strange effect grows in intensity threatening to drown everything out, but quickly retreats to the background with occasional short outbursts of odd noise. Darkness still rules the atmosphere. Metallic notes and percussion that sounds like a bouncing object give a continued darkness to 'Senescent Architecture' which is where microtones make the ambience quite dissonant and unsettling.

By the time we get to 'Heat Island Effect' we seem to be 100 miles away from anything melodic or bright as it starts from deep, dark ambience, but a sudden breeze effect fading in and out bring in a little more life and hope with each cycle. 'Dominions of Microns' moves into some avant-garde territory as the strange noises increase and synth chords fade in and out. But on 'Tentative Unfolding' there is a 'tentative' movement away from the dark textures to more hopeful and less harsh tones. There is a feeling of new life emerging as the track brings us back out into the light. 'Elevations' moves on swells that ebb and flow, becoming slightly louder each time as if light is bringing more life with each breath. A high pitched, almost vocalized effect brings back a more melodic style. 'Meridian Resperation' begins with percussive tones and a minimal drone. Later, a tribal flute effect comes in to carry it all home.

The entire album could be considered ambient and minimal, using tones and sounds and quasi-melodic lines to move things forward slowly. This music is best for meditation, relaxation, maybe even sleeping to. The use of microtones in various places make the music seem more naturally made than man-made. It is difficult to just sit and listen to because it moves along so slowly, but it is also beautiful and, used in the right context, enjoyable. But you have to be ready for it knowing that changes are sometime quite subtle.

TCat | 4/5 |

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