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Robert Rich — Electric Ladder
(Soundscape SP009, 2006, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2006-05-01

Electric Ladder Cover art

Always a beacon of unpredictability, Robert Rich has trained this writer’s ears to expect something unexpected with each new release. This time out it’s a bed of pulsating modular sequence-driven undercurrents overlaid with free flights of soaring synths, howling processed guitars, and cavernous winds, with a little help from a couple guests (sax, bassoon, guitar) on a few of the tracks. Seven pieces in all; some faster, some slower, others more paced, each balancing the various elements delicately to produce a variety of ever-evolving textures and colorations that satisfy on a number of levels. While one familiar with Rich’s body of work may occasionally be reminded of aspects of some of his earlier releases (Geometry, Rainforest, and Gaudi, from ‘87, ‘89, and ‘91 respectively, could at various times be reference points), there’s nonetheless a very forward-looking spirit to all of what’s encompassed herein. Generous use of acoustic instrumentation adds a bionic element into the mix of sounds. Since all of the cuts fade together, the disc becomes one epic journey – an odyssey through portals of ever shifting moods, combinative energies, and textural envelopments; the melodic elements breathe and percolate at he surface and just below, overlaying one another and mixing on a number of levels, backed in dreamy veils of subtle tonal coloration, light and dark, whether or not a rhythmic base is present. Overall, this disc offers a mystical experience as well as cerebral one; it’s up to the listener how best to absorb it. Recommended.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 33, 2006 releases

Related artist(s): Robert Rich

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