Released in February 2000, this triple-CD set of 1998 Robert Rich
live recordings (from shows in Stanford, Venice, and Pasadena, California) is one of the most hotly
anticipated releases ever for Hypnos (actually a Hypnos/Soundscapes co-release). Over three hours
of music, utilizing some of the techniques of Rich's renowned "Sleep Concerts," as well as some
sounds and interpretations of his highly-regarded collaboration with B. Lustmord, STALKER. Fans of
all phases of Rich's career will want to have this. The live tapes have been carefully remastered
by Robert himself to match the extraordinary standards of his studio recordings. This is one we're
very proud of, and one that is sure to rank among Rich's most important works.
Humidity tracks include:
Disc 1 / April 2, 1998 / Stanford, CA
1. Lost Caverns of Caryatis
2. Bioelectric Plasma
3. Demilitarized Zone
4. Synergistic Perceptions
5. Ceramic Tincture
6. Submission to Pele
7. Humidity Toward the Troposphere
Disc 2 / May 9, 1998 / Venice, CA
1. Beyond Part 1
2. Beyond Part 2
3. Beyond Part 3
4. Beyond Part 4
5. Beyond Part 5
6. Beyond Part 6
Disc 3 / May 10, 1998 / Pasadena, CA
1. Steel Harmonics
3. Cloud Relapse
4. Nightsky Reprise
5. Hidden Refuge
6. In a Miasma of Malarial Delusions br>
"Significant Releases of 2000 list."
--Star's End Radio host Chuck VanZyl
"Top Releases of 2000."
Vladimir Jovanovic, Inner Space Radio, Zagreb, Croatia
"Best of 2000 list (#12)."
--Eric Meece, Mystic Music, KKUP Radio
"...delicious murky glurp."
--Cliff Tuel (on the Space Music mailing list)
"Best CDs of 2000 list."
--Jim Brenholts on the Ambient Music mailing list
"Best of 2000 List."
David Beardsley on the Ambient Music mailing list
"Humidity is three discs of three California concerts recorded live in April and May of 1998. The first disc was recorded on April 2 in Stanford, the second on May 9 in Venice, and the third on May 10 in Pasadena. Each of these three discs has its own distinctive sound, but all three have the Robert Rich stereo depth and audiophile quality that he's known for. Humidity is less drone-y than some of Rich's earlier stuff, particularly Sunyata, on the Hypnos Recordings label, and Trances/Drones, which was re-released in 2000 on the Release/Relapse label. In fact, this recording is more along the lines of Rich's exotic stuff -- Seven Veils, A Troubled Resting Place, and issures -- complete with the synthesized sounds of acoustic ethnic instruments and chanting disembodied voices floating above Rich's densely layered electronic textures. Humidity is a great introduction to Robert Rich's work, but his studio recordings are really the best place to start."
--All Music Guide, reviewed by Matt Borghi
"The second release from Robert Rich's Soundscape sublabel on Hypnos, Humidity is a three-disc
collection of three live improvised concerts performed by Rich when he was on tour during the spring of 1998.
Much of the music on this release resembles Rich's classic 1995 collaboration with B. Lustmord,
Stalker. (In fact, two of the tracks are reinterpretations of pieces from Stalker
featuring B. Lustmord's recycled contributions.) Humidity is more active and dramatic, however;
perhaps another good reference would be Fissures, Rich's collaboration with Alio Die.
Humidity would be worth owning if only for Brad Cole's eerily beautiful cover photography (reproduced
on a larger fold-out poster inside), and fans of Stalker, Fissures and Rich's other more
abstract works will love immersing themselves in these sounds for three hours."
"ANOTHER DARK JOURNEY FROM A MASTER SOUNDSMITH
"You needn't know that track one is
called "Lost Caverns of Caryatis" to
realize that's exactly where you've been
taken. The craggy terrain is damp and
the night is filled with howling things
and chittering creatures. Rich's trademark
woodwinds have the air of ghosts blowing
through cracks around the windows.
His use of slide guitar achieves a
theremin-like effect, accentuating the
sense of horror and dread.
This three-disc set documents three
improvised concerts representing Rich's
more brooding and contemplative material.
Veering far from the more familiar and
melodic ground of his brilliang SEVEN
VEILS, Rich paints hypnotic plateaus that
are barren and vast, blanketed in mist
and laden with sublime anxiety.
Rich is renowned for his unique
Sleep Concerts, where a sleeping audience
is actually the desired goal.
HUMIDITY combines some of that with
elements of the drone work for which
he is equally respected. The cumulative
effect is a dreamscape rife with unsettling
imagery. Disc 3 is the most tranquil
and structured of the set, and slivers
of light are allowed to penetrate the
mesmerizing darkness. As a master
soundsmith wiht a jazzman's gift for
improvisation, Rich has delivered a
journey to an unnamed place where the
music provides both mode of transport
and accompanying soundtrack.
(rated 4 out of 5)"
--Alternative Press (reviewed by Mark Burbey)
"For Robert Rich, music is a completely immersive experience, one that not
only becomes part of the environment but seeps into your pores. He
performed sleep concerts in the early 1980s, and that aesthetic still
informs the darker, ambient edge of his music heard on Humidity. On this
three-disc set (more than three hours of music), Rich has documented three
concert performances, each a detailed, slowly shifting world of morphing
sound. Like one of Mark Rothko's textured abstractions overlaid on a
Dali-esque landscape, Rich presents a translucent surface under which an
intricate sound world emerges. Synthesizers shimmer in evanescent waves
while flutes and lap steel guitar orchestrate their patterns through a
sonic scrim. The third disc is home to this set's most melodic music. On
"Steel Harmonics," Rich turns the lap steel guitar into a bluesy space
sitar with a hypnotic, snake-like improvisation. (A Critics Choice
--John Dilberto (host of Echoes radio),
"Humidity is one of those albums that you can put on when you go to bed
and it will still be playing in the morning when you wake up. Ambient is Rich's
middle name, in case you aren't familiar with his pioneering works in the field.
This 3-CD set is a recording of three 1998 live concerts -- they must have
passed out blankets and pillows, because it's very slow, lost-in-spacey
stuff indeed. Ambient landscape aficionados will have to add this one to their
collection as the ultimate Rich experience -- dripping water, short-circuiting
wires, rumbling air-conditioning noises and all. While the lengthy compositions
may sound like Monstro the Whale's all-time worst case of indigestion as
recorded by Pinocchio, it is compelling listening."
--Peggy Randall, Music Editor, NAPRA Review
"Wow! What's there to say. More then three hours of Robert Rich captured in
live concert. All from a short time span in 1998, Rich produces three
entirely different concerts, of course within the limits he has set for himself.
Disc one and three have 'tracks', rather then a ongoing mood piece. The
tracks are crossfaded into each other to make it a long flow. Behind the
wall of electronic sounds, Rich occassionally uses ethnic percussion and
flutes. Luckily he hides that away a bit, because it would be too tedious.
Disc two has six parts of 'Beyond' and is indeed one piece with shimmering
textures and an odd bang on some ethnic drum.
I am sure this release nowhere captures the real thing. Rich likes playing
Sleep Concerts - music on end. This is just a home version that still gives
a good impression. Perfect music for rainy sunday nights with nothing to
see on TV. Utter relax music, or even, indeed, music to sleep by. Beautiful
Vital E-Zine, Staalplaat, The Netherlands
"This three disc set was recorded live in 1998 at concert performances by
Robert Rich. The material is derived from shows in Stanford, Venice, and
Pasadena, California. The music documents a crucial aspect of Rich's
creative expression which has been much-discussed by fans, but seldom
documented on CD. His live concerts, for which he has become renowned,
are extended, slowly-evolving explorations into subdued and dream-like
states of consciousness. These entirely improvised performances integrate
both "played" instruments, and almost subliminally layered textural
recordings, lending an exotic, mysterious and truly hypnotic depth to the
Spanning over three hours of music, HUMIDITY is comprised of unfettered
cosmic drones, organic timbres and long passages of respirating ambience,
utilizing some of the techniques of Rich's renowned "Sleep Concerts," as
well as some sounds and interpretations of his highly-regarded
collaboration with B. Lustmord, STALKER, these ethereal textures envelope,
cushion and seduce the mind, but as dislocated sounds, their chameleonic
effect Is tranquilizing.
Fans of all phases of Robert Rich's career will recognize his strengths as
an artist, from the deep space minimalism, to the extraordinary sonic depth
and range, to occasional use of subtly ethnic instrumentational accents. The
live tapes have been carefully remastered by Robert himself to match the
extraordinary standards of his studio recordings. HUMIDITY is sure to achieve
a place of significance among Rich's already-substantial body of work."
--Alternate Music Press
reviewed by Ben Kettlewell
"The live essence of Robert Rich has been
condensed into three must-have CDs from
Hypnos... From a trio of different vantage points,
Humidity - Three Concerts captures the
soundworlds improvised by the ambient master
Almost 74-minute-long Stanford opens on Lost Caverns of Caryatis
which begins as a neo-ethnic flutefest accented with thumping beats, but
evolves into a more abstract, windswept surge. Within the 14-minute-plus
Demilitarized Zone, whale-like calls and ruffling electronics are heard over
swampily churning bloops and rhythmic backdrop. Tinkling shards and ringing
tones are stirred and boiled in a gloopy cauldron of sound in Ceramic
Tincture (6:28). Moody and dense, Humidity Toward the Troposphere
(14:24) closes the disc in a sweltering haze of organic evolutions and
ethno/electro sounds; sometimes the lush-though-gritty primeval vibe veers
The six "Beyond" tracks of Venice span a shorter 47:23 interval, but pass
through some of the more "humid" zones of this collection... misty and ethereal
sonic entities waft over earthy contours of unknown places. The beautiful,
though mournful, strands of Beyond Part 1 (16:26) elongate across the
mutedly unfocused soundscape, stretching amid glints of semi-tonal bells and
insectoid chitters. A streaming flow of electrons gets louder and louder; by the
track's end it's a continually raging blast, absolutely the "noisiest" sounds I've
hear from Mr. Rich. That caustic emission though soon becomes an organically
stewing murk (Beyond Part 2) over which mysterious ethnic flutes wander
and waver. The softly swirling percolations of Beyond Part 4 are laced with
warm drones, ringing tones and electronic ebb and flow, accented by
occasional bells and unidentifiable wispy presences. Fluttering with tiny electric
burbles, Beyond Part 5 (3:52) glistens with animatedly chiming riffles over a
hazy backdrop and water sounds.
Disc three heads into Pasadena (62:44). Beneath an evershifting whipser,
echoing strings are plucked, strummed and stretched through Steel
Harmonics, leaving behind a resonant haze which becomes Nada (6:05);
eventually soft flute passages rise from the dust to swirl hypnotically. Watery
thumps and clunks, flute strands and low-lying synthhaze adorn Nightsky
Reprise (16:56). Synth-symphonics flow into the scene, which closes with
mechanical bug noise, which soon melds with animal-like cries from the
Hidden Refuge, backed by an enshrouded tone progression over undeniably
Looks like yet another classic from Hypnos... With almost
three hours of otherworldy audioexperiences, Humidity has
the 9.2 power and duration to literally swallow your world in
strange, wonderful, isolationist explorations. "
--David Opdyke /
"From the new age accessibility of Rainforest to the international fusion
of Seven Veils, the soundworlds of Trances and Drones and the evocative
spacemusic of "Numena", the music of Robert Rich is well known to STAR'S
END listeners. Rich's latest release is the epic 3CD set Humidity, a
condensed record of three concerts that dealt with the areas explored on
his noted works Stalker (w/Lustmord) and Night Sky Replies.
While Robert Rich has become well known as a giver of the occasional nine
hour Sleep Concert, the performances Humidity has been drawn from do more
than just fill up the sleep space. The music is contemplative and
subterranean but there is motion, power and activity present as well. Rich
has always been good at producing music that conjures up mental images of
lost places, visited through the absorbtion of his music. Analysis usually
credits this to Rich's unique instrumentation which includes steel guitar,
ethnic percussion and bamboo and homemade flutes. His skill at programming
synths and sampler is often cited too, as is Rich's use of environmental
recordings, the use of non-western scales to further de-stabilize the
listener and the craft of effect processing to further manipulate the sound
he realizes. But these are all just tools by which Rich demonstrates an
immeasurable factor often referred to as talent but felt by the listener as
Star's End Radio, WXPN, Philadelphia
":exquisite live ambience:
A three CD live collection may seem a bit preposterous, but this is Robert
Rich, an ambient artist with unlimited skills, and a unique ear for dark
tonalities. That, along with the fact that his live presentations have
garnered a reputation unto themselves, massaging the consciousness in ways
that soothe, while still requiring subtly active participation (visualization
is triggered-seeing with one's ears), makes this a more than worthy venture.
The three concerts were recorded within slightly over a month of each other,
discs two and three on consecutive evenings. Each disc captures the music of
the moment, the singular improvisational impetus revealed as one second leads
to the next. The synths carry weight, sound as mass, but it is not ponderous
or discomfiting. Rather, the weight here settles gently on one's ears, a
comforting claustrophobia in which darkness does not bring fear, only
curiosity. Robert's knack for dense layering of synths, taking the broad,
sonic scope and narrowing it to a precise point (a point that still, somehow,
embodies depth), is uncanny. The sensation envelops the body, a second skin
made of sound. The sporadic inclusion of instruments (the occasional flute
taps into the nature spirit of the Native American without reducing it to
cliche') and samples (well, water is a significant participant) flesh out the
proceedings. Disc two, containing six tracks entitled "Beyond," 1-6, is my
favorite, Robert in a particularly forlorn mood (mood plays a key role in
each evenings performance), the ever-flowing synths spanning the panoramic
skies, while courting a more subterranean sonic base, aquatic and mysterious.
When the ominous bell clangs three times on track 4, a chill climbs the
vertebra of my spine -- perfection!"
--John C. Smith /
"It would be a shame to nod-off during these 'sleep
concerts' recorded in 1998. Rich has given us a recording
of True Ambient floating music for inner-travel -- a three
disc set of complex, dense material, yet precious in its
sparseness. The ever-morphing sound scapes are evocative
of times and places recalled -- yet unable to pinpoint, as
if visited in a dream. There is much going-on in these
compositions, yet it does not call attention to itself,
leaving the listener to pay rapt attention.
Rich has shown us that he is apt at group-styled efforts as
in the Seven Veils CD, as well as his Amoeba releases,
but this is a first for Rich as he takes his music to areas
of beautiful electronics clearly outside of any other work
he’s released. If one needed a comparison, Steve Roach's
Atmospheric Conditions may have a similar 'feel' to it,
yet that takes away from both artists work, as they are
both creating truly individual and personal music.
What's more (and it kept entering my thoughts the whole way
through) is that it is much better than I would have
expected. I should add that Rich has, for many years, made
it into The Raging Consciousness Desk's Best-Of the Year
pieces and rates as one of my favorite artists.
This is a seminal work and belongs in anyone’s collection
that is serious about Ambient music. Rich is in a very
elite grouping of artists that create truly imaginative,
inventive music within the genre.
Music - 10 (rating out of 10 points)
Sound - 9 (rating out of 10 points)."
The Raging Consciousness Desk
"Humidity is a meteorological phenomenon giving rise to discomfort - the
stickiness, the thickness and closeness of the air, and the ever-imminent
threat of heat lightning tearing the night sky asunder. Oozing its own
sodden atmosphere, Robert Rich's triple CD documents concerts from three
hot (I must assume) Californian nights in 1998. Each individual CD is
christened after the town in which the performance took place - Stanford,
Venice and Pasadena. Entirely improvised and featuring acoustic ethnic
instruments and disembodied voices rising above layered electronic
textures, the listener is impressed by the sheer variety and imagination
offered over some three hours. Of added interest is the interweaving of
reworked versions of two cuts from his seminal collaboration with Lustmord,
Stalker, into the mix. At times the music buries its snout deep in the
moist earth, then claws its way up to emerge into a dank landscape of
industrial abandonment, the rusty clonkings of ancient machines echoing
like a reminder of the passing of the industrial age. But it also strives
far up into the aether, especially when Rich purses his lips and brings his
flute to them, proffering gusts of fresh, revitalizing air. A must of the
fans of isolationism, a superb introduction to the work of Rich for the
novice and an exemplary archival project on behalf of Hypnos, perhaps the
foremost ambient label in America today."
Stephen Fruitman, on the Ambient Music mailing list
"Easily his best work since Stalker. There's some
really spooky stuff in here, so be forewarned."
--Cliff Tuel, on the Space Music mailing list
"One of Rich's best releases ever. Reminds me a bit of Trances and
Drones, lots of great flute and lap steel guitar solos. The long track
that begins disk 2 (around 15 minutes) is one of my favorites, a long
lap steel solo leads to a wonderful, mind-melting conclusion. Other
Rich fans should definitely check this out."
--Don Gunning, on the Space Music mailing list
"A wonderful set, especially the Pasadena show (disc #3). The
Stalker pieces are excellent! A must-have for all RR fans."
--Curt Cruthirds, on the Space Music mailing list
"The eagerly anticipated latest Robert Rich release is here. And what a beauty
it is, a marvelous 3-CD set of three different live recordings from April and
May 1998 in California. Patterned after Rich's famous sleep concerts many
years earlier, the emphasis is on things dark and droney. Mostly original
material, also included are a couple of live interpretations of Robert's work
with Lustmord on their Stalker CD - so that gives you an idea of the degree
of darkness involved. Beautiful flutes and deep echoes get things started
with "Lost Caverns of Caryatis," a long, flowing, brilliant piece of delicate
ambience. A few tribal bleats are carefully placed, but for the most part it
is devoid of rhythm. Music doesn't get much more soothing than this, though
it might also scare you a bit with the lights out. "Bioelectric Plasma" is
noisier and more intense, with giant walls of sound coming right at you.
"Demilitarized Zone" has lots of water sounds and strange effects, with an
uncharacteristic marching beat running through it.
Each track plays with different layers of sound, featuring exquisitely rich
tonal complexities. Titles like "Ceramic Tincture" lend themselves to the
sense of music with a visible texture. Though the focus is on floating music,
Rich's tendency for tribal rhythms surfaces now and again, particularly on
"Submission to Pele," a great study in world drumming sounds and patterns.
Disc two strips away nearly all sense of rhythm, leaving long, swirling
drones. Simply titled "Beyond," this 47-minute, 6-part piece is subtle and
deftly executed. With the exception of some jangling bell-like noises in part
5, there is no rhythm at all, leaving the music plenty of space to breathe
and slowly evolve.
Disc three shows yet another side of Rich's musical ability, starting with
excellent guitar work on "Steel Harmonics." This track is surprisingly
accessible, the guitar seeming almost playful compared to most of the darker
musical fare. Those wonderful flutes return on "Nada," bringing back memories
of Rich's collaboration with Alio Die on their Fissures CD. Most of the third
CD remains lighter than the first two, but darkness descends again for the
last two tracks to close. Dark, visceral ambient music. So palpable you can
touch, taste and smell it."
--Phil Derby, SMD