Artist: Robert Rich
Album: Vestiges

Released: 17 November 2016
Label: Soundscape

Vestiges Robert Rich
The language we learn determines how we think, how we perceive reality. Robert Rich uses a language based in symbols - communicating his values and beliefs through non-verbal means... which begs us to contemplate the man and the mind behind such unique music. His album Vestiges (62'31") may be thought of as made up of seven conventions for abstract thought. Its sonic range, with an extraordinary spectrum of tonal gradations, conveys a sense of infinitude. In this playground where listeners may exercise their imaginations, this album represents Rich at the intersection of what he knows, what he does, and who he is. Vestiges has a wondrous chaotic beauty. In a demonstration of sheer musical and intellectual mastery he moves easily between moods eerie and anxious, then sober and cerebral. Moving always in measured coolness, at one moment Vestiges may produce unsettling portraits of fragility, then easily transcend into a structure that could swallow you whole. Grave, gorgeous steel guitar snakes between notes, amidst a seductive whispering piano. The use of field recordings provides subtlety, which augments this work's surreal gentility. Some sonic forms move nervously through Vestiges, as Rich makes negative space (often thought of as the absence of content) into a rhetorical device. The release of atmosphere into a movement in which space is tightly compressed is evocative of macrocosmic genesis, while further along our journey forward we encounter the laser-like focus and urgent force of a more primitive utterance. Diffuse drones draw their breath beneath reverberant flute tones, as some sections display Rich's tendency to infest every moment with such intense detail that the work cannot be appreciated as a whole. His soft poetic power gives rise to an unusually rich listening experience. Robert Rich seems to know that the world contains many hidden, magical geographies - as he has spent a lifetime mapping them. With Vestiges he realizes a realm for one, in which to ponder the many beautiful, generative things happening in the world - all the while peering deeply and intently into the places where a person is most vulnerable.

- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END   15 December 2016

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