ROBERT RICH: What We Left Behind (2016)
Updated: Dec 12, 2020
“Robert Rich is achieving the impossible in creating a music which leads us straight away near a post-apocalyptic prehistoric universe”
1 Profligate Earth 6:22 2 Raku 5:13 3 Voice of Rust 5:41 4 Soft Rains Fall 4:17 5 Rhizome 2:01 6 Transpiration 5:17 7 Corvid Collections 6:32 8 Aerial on Warm Seas 9:08 9 Never Hunger 3:22 10 After Us 3:02 11 What We Left Behind 6:01 12 Meeting Face to Face 5:29 Soundscape | SP027
(CD 62:24) (V.F.)
(Ambient tribal post apocalyptic)
Songs of paradisiacal birds, rumblings of thunders and a layer of synth adorned of an halo as white as spotless, Profligate Earth infiltrates our ears with the approach of a survivor who scrutinizes his long road on horseback. The rhythm gets lively with a thin touch of Electronica with these percussions which click as clogs on a dry ground while the tears of the Lap Steel guitar paint the sky of a shade of a profound melancholy. With WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND, Robert Rich is achieving the impossible, for the real fans of ambiences and the cerebral film-makers; create a music which leads us straight away near a post-apocalyptic prehistoric universe with a dozen of very pensive titles. Except the kind of Electronica that is Profligate Earth, the rhythm buried under an abstruse avalanche of strata and another soft song murmured by the flute of Transpiration and the splendid ballad of the title-track, where the tears of the Lap Steel and the percussions fascinate the hearing in a Earth and Fire rite, the other 50 minutes of this album are rather quiet.
We can hear noises of percussions and beginnings of rhythms, like in Raku which adopts marvellously the landscape of sadness of Profligate Earth, but for the rest, the songs of flutes, the murmurs and the torrents of the winds as well as the meditative rhythms, tickled by shamanic percussions, fill the atmospheres of this last Robert Rich's opus. But it's not because it is quiet that it's not beautiful. Far from it! The sounds which decorate the atmospheres that weave Robert are intrusive. Raku is dying in Voice of Rust while Soft Rains Fall spreads its sibylline layers in a very Steve Roach soundscape. The song of the spectres sticks to our skin! Stripped of percussions, Rhizome remains all the same rather dark and intriguing, as a moonless night, where the noises of the fauna get lost in hollow winds and distant knockings. The ambient, although some percussions can sow doubt on its nature, structure of Corvid Collections reminds me of someone who looks for his shade under rocks and gets angry in front of his eternal quest. See how the imagination can work! That can even be a dance for nomads post-apocalyptic. It depends! Aerial on Warm Seas is another piece of music with atmospheres which are near Steve Roach's territories, the acuteness of winds and songs in plus. Never Hunger is a very meditative title where the flute loses its shadow in front of a very iridescent avalanche of Steel strata. It's very intense and the reverberations which feed its end throw themselves into the serenity of After US and its crackling of rattlers. One of the big strengths of WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND is the way Robert Rich is moderating the soothing effects of his atmospheres by inserting phases of rhythms into the strategic points of his album. If Transpiration awakens the sleep which would have been able to watch for our state of contemplativity, it's the same for What We Left Behind which is one of the good tracks of Robert Rich's repertoire. The meshing of sounds on an aboriginal rhythm is completely charming. Meeting Face to Face is a very poignant finale which would fit very well for a dramatic movie. The tears of synth and its shadows which scatter among the celestial voices is simply staggering, while the guitar is playing quite slowly a nostalgia which fades under a delicate rain.
Once again, I let myself get caught by the music of Robert Rich. Although the style of the Californian musician is miles away from what I'm used to savour, I always find elements of an imperceptible and inexplicable beauty there. It is, in my humble opinion, the quiet strength of Robert Rich; find the inexplicable and put it in music!
Sylvain Lupari (May 19th, 2016) ***½**
Available at Robert Rich's