Robert Rich: Premonitions 1980-1985
Anyone who has followed the long career of Robert Rich has undoubtedly read various versions of his artist bio, which almost always starts out with a description of his early drone music and the unique “Sleep Concerts” he gave as a college student in the early 1980s. During this decade various versions of these live recordings, as well as a number of studio realizations, were released on cassette – so that those of us without the privilege of being amongst Rich’s sleeping audiences would be able to possess something of the experience too. Premonitions 1980-1985 is a four LP set which presents recordings from Robert Rich’s very early days as a musician. Along with his surprisingly mature meditations of shifting soundscapes and lushly visceral atmospheric textures the adventurous listener will also discover Rich’s more challenging and experimental works. From a riot of sound and forays into indefinite pitch to surreal modulated collage Rich shows as much spirit as skill in the formation and execution in these innovative passages. But it is his trance music, and its smooth hypnotic drones, minimal sequencer patterns, nature sounds, glissando guitar and reverberant flute playing, and the building of such ethereal climates which provides we prone listeners with so many interesting perceptual effects. The appreciation of this youthful output helps us to better comprehend and understand Rich’s music of the present day. But the power of this music may only be felt if the listener unmoors themselves from a conventional way of hearing. Tone cannot be applied, it comes out of specificity, and we find after spinning Premonitions 1980-1985 how Robert Rich first came in contact with and developed this concept.