Spending some time in Robert Rich's world will cause us to perceive our own a little bit differently. His CD What We Left Behind (62'24") possesses such a unique quality of sound. In these 12 perspectives from a different mind, we hear a soft poetic power. Summoned from a breathing, breathy palette of reverberant flutes, mysterious melodies are rendered sluggish by a mystic atmosphere. Further in, steel guitar notes bend, echo and loop along a snakelike arc - in a narrative meant to reach us at our primitive core. Vague forms take a while to reveal themselves, in sections so slow, we barely find a pulse. When it is drifting rudderless What We Left Behind leads us by fields of purple and gray, plus amorphous environmental shapes - underneath of which is absolute silence. En route to a vivid sleep, we encounter earthen rhythms - ancient, exact and mythic. As magnitude synth chords rise amidst reedy tones and slow dark drums, Rich's vivid sonic realm turns solid, then cloudy, threatening, then joyful, abstract, and then referential. While our sound space in one section melts in neuronal heat, in the next it beats gradually alive in ceremonial majesty. As a strain of notes move through the humid air of What We Left Behind, we hear a musical organism taking shape. Rich covers quite a bit of ground on this album. While others may grope for definite knowledge, Rich the enchanter seems calm in his restless sonics - moving somewhere forward, trying to connected with his future self. This music is a practice. To make it, one certainly must learn its technology - but to fully comprehend it, one might have to learn its philosophy.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 7 July 2016