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Robert Rich — Trances / Drones
(Hypnos hyp3364, 1984/2013, 2CD)

by Mike McLatchey, 2015-06-18:

Trances / Drones Cover art

McLatchey's Top Tier #21

I'm not sure there's any musician alive who has a discography as long and deep as Robert Rich, and as I continue to make posts there's going to be quite a few of his albums in the next tier or so. I went to see him play in Davis, CA in the 90s thinking I had everything he had released at the time only to see these cassettes being sold at his table. Anyway I wouldn't say this is Robert's best, after all I believe it was his third cassette in the early 80s, but even then he'd completely mastered long form ambient music. "Seascape" in particular is a piece I've played endlessly, wearing out the cassette, switching to the double CD of Trances/Drones when it came out and even considering getting a newer version just to make sure I never lose track of it. This is music you can just fall into.


by Mike McLatchey, 1995-03-01:

This may be my favorite rerelease of the year, especially in the electronic/ambient vein. Trances and Drones were Stanford-based composer Rich's second and third cassette releases in 1984. While Rich has long moved on to other pastures anew, adding a wider range of instrumentation and joining the Hearts of Space roster, Extreme has made the wise choice of reissuing these classic works remastered with two bonus tracks — a remastered title track from his rare first cassette Sunyata (also well worthy of CD release) and a previously unreleased cut. Trances and Drones were both extremely atmospheric works done primarily on a Prophet 5 and a self built modular (do I have it right this time?). Slowly evolving, incredibly evocative, and uniquely beautiful, I practically wore out my tapes of these titles before this wonderful duo box came out. This set certainly isn't indicative of Rich's various later explorations, these tapes are non-percussive and more deeply sonorous than his Roach collaborations or albums like Geometry (reviewed elsewhere) or Gaudi. Nevertheless, I consider both of these essential for the ambient connoisseur — both CDs are worth the price for "Hayagriva" (second side of Trances) alone.

Filed under: Reissues , Issue 6 , 2013 releases, 1984 releases

Related artist(s): Robert Rich

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