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Spacemusic Reviews

Tag: Soundscape

Kelly David: Meditation in Green

Meditation in Green

Meditation in Green

Kelly David: Meditation in Green
Released: 23 August 2019
www.spottedpeccary.com
www.kellydavid.com

Kelly David is exploring the Earth, and discovering that it is far bigger than he imagined. The release Meditation in Green (58’03”) allows us to project ourselves into his luxurious, long-view. Those open to the seduction of electronic drama and its beautiful symbolism will be substantially rewarded. Utilizing a variety of pristine field recordings, and layering them with gentle percussion and evocative synthesizer surfaces Kelly David produces passages of mystic bliss – where reverberant chords move like slow clouds on the horizon, and glowing tones flex and fade off into a buzz of jungle. From ethno-grooves to Forth World dreamscapes, the arc of this fantasy for synths, samplers and landscapes recedes and expands as the music flows across a leafy, watery and often intense sonic terrain. Some tracks add a ceremonial rhythmic propulsion, but we will recognize that most of Meditation in Green is pushing slowly through a dreamy, verdant realm. This work’s series of seven interludes build tension through minimal means, driving one to consider the larger questions of what it is to be alive. The listening experience is sensuous enough to become lost in, but so vivid that we might encounter ourselves somewhere along our travels. In its textured roar, wilderness sounds, ethereal atmospheres and thunder claps we find an escape from the broken world. The screens of our modern times offer so much to look at, from the trivial to the sublime. Yet, Meditation in Green proves to be a move vivid experience than any random feed could possibly offer. To give his perspective on the world and its ancient governing powers this artist’s vision reaches us through the act of listening, to be interpreted within the theater of our minds.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END17 October 2019

Robert Rich: Tactile Ground

Tactile Ground

Tactile Ground

Robert Rich: Tactile Ground
Released: 15 January 2019
www.robertrich.com

Robert Rich remains as content as ever reveling in his remarkable and imaginative designs. After initiating the audience into the bewildering mysteries of his art, he awakens particular responses. Again treating sound as a material to express ideas and feelings, his Tactile Ground is the realization of that which eludes language. A sonic landscape contoured by wonder, we may imagine the musician as an organism. With its recordings of the natural world, surrounded by strange modulations and washes of harmony, we arrive at a most unexpected setting. In some green Eden, or a primordial realm, it feels like these motifs have preceded the human race. With no discernible rhythm, it becomes difficult to maintain our bearings while within Tactile Ground. Sensations vary over 15 tracks and two discs. Where a slight but noticeable restlessness begins, further in the shivering quality of its atmosphere becomes unapologetically bleak. As granular textures are replaced by the smooth, stillness of sustaining drones, brighter passages support the spare, elegant notes of a grand piano. Beautiful tones do emanate from Rich’s steel guitar, slithering and sliding in slow serpentine glissando. Breaths of bamboo flute float through a glorious reverberation above a torrent of churning, murmuring synthesizers – and in this manner Tactile Ground creeps slowly along. Having found that his musical expressions affect other people, Robert Rich does them consciously and intentionally to produce that effect – and so his music is born. As we evolve into creatures with powers which at present we do not possess, we may come to understand fully how sound created thought, and how thought creates music. Until that time, the human mind requires a basic coherence and system, and once given systematic coherence can grasp ideas of ever increasing complexity. Yet, even given this, it will not be possible for us to know the meaning of Tactile Ground until traveling its complete course.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END7 February 2019

Robert Rich: The Biode

The Biode

The Biode

Robert Rich: The Biode
Released: 25 February 2018
www.robertrich.com

What will we be thinking about while we listen to The Biode (57’37”) by Robert Rich? Is existence a property? Or a state? How do we measure the modern world? What constitutes the self? A talent on a free course, Rich progresses, not in a straight line, but in alternate divergences from one side of creativity to the other. His work on The Biode re-awakens the discussion of music and the surreal. To the ear accustomed to soothing atmospheres, this album is a risk – as it deviates quite seriously from better known traditions. A great deal of its charm lies in its ability to confound and perplex. An exploration of new aims and tendencies, the ten tracks found on The Biode are each an exploitation of carefully chosen and contrasted tonal qualities. Rich’s harmonic lubrications are subtle, revealing the dim light of mystic musing. Instrumental tone colors are combined, yet each stands clear of the other – asserting a mutual independence. As a gathering of rhythmic threads arise and resolve in unconventional sequencer patterns and percussive structures, tiny snatches of melody pass like vain dreams – heedlessly into some other chord. From sweet, to pungent, to the primordial, a slow progression of pale hues test permitted concords and discords. Throughout this release Rich features his notable research into the qualities of timbre, into the effects of new combinations of tones. These imaginative modulations are highlighted as prominently as the more familiar reverberant flute solos, steel guitar leads and synthesized pads. The result is a wonderful zone of beautiful melodies and sonic grandeur, accented by glurping electronic utterances and an unsettling intonation. However scientific its conception may have been, The Biode proves very expressive. As faithful in detail as any of Rich’s best work, it represents the furthest progress yet in acknowledging the human subconscious, and the emotional and intellectual attitudes of the mind.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END22 March 2018

Hammock: Mysterium

Mysterium

Mysterium

Hammock: Mysterium
Released: 25 August 2017
www.hammockmusic.com

Mysterium (58’07”) conjures a twilight, slow-motion realm. Hammock, the duo of Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson, here produce 11 tracks worth of shadowy blue nocturnes. While this work is an act of pure expression and atmosphere, it is concisely formed and executed to the standards of the Ambient Chamber Music style. Their lush instrumentation of strings, piano, horns, choir, and so many variations of electric guitar tones, sends us a soul-deep sonic portrait from a symbolic plane. With a poet’s flair for valorizing, their songs of withdrawn melancholy send the listener on a gorgeous journey into the elegiac. Organized with understated compositional principles, chords and melodic fragments float along, their sonorities given plenty of time to reverberate inside the mind of the listener. From its nearly stationary landscapes to structured, goal-oriented harmonic narratives, Mysterium is textured, precise and alive. Its arrangements of gentle gravity gains shape in recurring motives and portentous contrasts. Mysterium has been derived from expressive shades of sound. Long unhurried melodies emerge out of a soft aura of harmony, to cling to the ears and whisper in the heart – speaking to a place where words are unnecessary, as sound tells the story best. Quietists at heart, Byrd and Thompson make music for souls in transit. Mysterium reaches for serious moments. It is the product of years of purposeful effort – and an invitation to step inside the musician’s mind. Their personal realities are a special place to occupy. Meant for self-reflection, Hammock has released a transformational, lovestruck album – a beautifully colored collage of memories and daydreams, in which the players (and listeners) may become fortified in the aftermath of loss.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END3 August 2017

Robert Rich: Live at The Gatherings 2015

Live at The Gatherings 2015

Live at The Gatherings 2015

Robert Rich: Live at The Gatherings 2015
Released: 2 June 2017
www.robertrich.com
www.industryeight.com

Robert Rich is about more than just exhibiting himself on the stage. His many concert appearances are understood as substantial, yet ephemeral experiences in sound. Among the most notable are Rich’s numerous appearances in Philadelphia as part of The Gatherings Concert Series. This is a safe place for innovative musicians to explore creativity, and discover what lies inside – the listener and player alike. We now have a permanent treasure to add to the memory of one such concert. The double CD Live at The Gatherings 2015 presents Robert Rich’s 11 April 2015 performance, an album that will touch your mind, and may even invade your dreams. While Rich focuses on the brainy, metaphysical aspects of his live work, he is always solidly attentive to the more practical issues. Through contour, pacing and tone, he makes buying admission to one of his live events a ticket to a foreign land. In coolly assured advances, forthright flute solos ascend through reverberant chambers, then brood over their own worth. Thrusting percussive rhythms rumble beneath swooning steel guitar solos. Snapping with a seductive skill, drums invigorate the mood, but we find the foreground is commanded by a writhing fuzz lead line – moaning through electrical circuits. Remote synth strings project both fragility and flashes of brilliance. Further down below we encounter tectonically imagined realms of biomorphic abstractions meant to beckon and boggle. Here Rich seems to reach into silence – bringing back something which may glow warmly, or just as easily, feel cold and damp. A mist to the brittle spirit, Robert Rich in concert is an event which celebrates the complexity of the human mind. The transit between quiet cerebral musings and propulsive visceral thrills seems to generate this album’s own energy. Like Rich himself, and the music he realizes live, Live at The Gatherings 2015 is authentic. It both belongs to our era, and transcends it. We are the meaning-seeking animals, and Rich, at some great height, is constantly searching within himself for something deeper to express. Passion… is it the friction between the world and the soul? If so, then Robert Rich’s concert space is about passion, as well as pleasure. It also acts as an outlet for intellect – and a bit of musical virtuosity. So, while each audience member is entitled to their own personal interpretations, the common connection here is the ability of this experience to connected us to that which is humane, gentle and life-giving – a function which we see slowly receding from the modern life.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END – 25 May 2017

Robert Rich/Markus Reuter: Lift a Feather to the Flood

Lift a Feather to the Flood

Lift a Feather to the Flood

Robert Rich/Markus Reuter: Lift a Feather to the Flood
Released: 12 April 2017
www.robertrich.com
www.markusreuter.com

Robert Rich & Markus Reuter are well-known for their many musical journeys – from the back of beyond to the brink of the mainstream. On Lift a Feather to the Flood (66’00”) they mainly explore tonality, and many of its subtle shades and moods. With Rich at the grand, and Reuter breathing out atmospheres and textures from his touch guitar and synth, this duo realizes eight subtle thought zones meant for pondering and questioning – more so than assurance and confirmation. On Lift a Feather to the Flood we do find the dignified, stately procession of reverberant piano notes walking thoughtfully through a cloudy haze of digital mist. But the most potent pieces are made with an ear for light, motion and surface – compositions that we must reason our way through. It is in these deepest moments that we may feel this album’s personal tone. As they work in this unique frequency, using melody and harmony likes signs and symbols, Rich & Reuter lean into the Avant-Garde. Locating tone is their mission, and the production of these rarefied ambient zones touches a distinctive, inquiring energy, and maybe even a bit of our fear of the unknown. This work does seem to be searching, just for the stimulation of it – with Rich & Reuter sharing their deep wondering about music, humanity and life. This duo knows about this music’s secret mind, and in their dreamy, drifting, lulling, pulling sonics, we approach something like the actual flow of consciousness.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END – 18 May 2017