It will be difficult to find a conventional musical term to adequately describe Lithosphere (52'44") by Robert Rich and Ian Boddy. This intriguing album arises out of soundlab experimentation and delves into an arcane world of tone and mood. The sources and inspiration for this work seems to be foreign as opposed to alien; as if from some corner of the world only recently discovered and comprehended by just a few intrepid explorers. The perplexing rhythm structure, and its shifting accents, forms a curious energy while unfamiliar harmonies, based on a non-western intonation, precipitates an unsettling atmosphere. Fortunately, amidst the intensity and cold calculations that inundate this album, several access points exist in areas of repose where the listener may reflect in a serene eloquence. Surfacing when a melody is called for is Rich's steel guitar. Its voice-like timbre snakes and slides through chords and keys and provides yet another level of engagement. For all this album's high concept and high tech theorizing and execution, when the energy level dissipates and the rhythm has wound out, the duo resorts to the sampled sounds of scraping stones to pause any forward motion. Although Lithosphere is a great collaborative effort, self-referential moments are expected and anticipated. Yet, in this alliance, the signature sounds and voices of one are modified and enhanced by the other - converted into something fascinatingly different from the original, yet possessing a haunting familiarity. Music has the ability to communicate a wonderful range of mood and feelings. Understanding what it is Rich and Boddy are trying to convey will take some effort on the part of the listener.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 2 November 2005