Author Topic: Robert Rich Tour Blog  (Read 31259 times)

Brian Bieniowski

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #40 on: June 05, 2010, 05:59:13 AM »
Hey Brian, What made the Wolfgang Voigt performance so compelling?

It's hard to pin it down. It was a sold-out show and the audience was totally into it, which helps.  Everyone leaving felt blown away by what had happened, even though he was just manipulating samples on a laptop.  The imagery on stage (they had a little movie playing) really went with the music too.  I'd see a show like that weekly if it was equally intense.  At the bottom line, it was just hearing that incredibly potent music really loud with complimentary visuals in a nice theatre.  I don't look for much more than that in a show, honestly.  My concert write-up:

http://asphalteden.livejournal.com/266437.html

I'm not convinced that electronic music performance needs a shot in the arm, by the way.  I think we're running into the same old story of not enough people/fanbase to support a more elaborate live show that pleases every audience member looking for novelty in on-stage entertainment.  Techno artists sit behind computers all the time (and DJs aren't all that interesting to see either), and they consistently sell out clubs the world over, whether there's dancing or not. 

atomicskunk

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #41 on: June 05, 2010, 09:27:28 AM »
This is an interesting discussion. As someone who played live "traditional" guitar in various rock bands for 25+ years, I've struggled to wrap my brain around a way to perform my own ambient electronic music in such a way as to make it compelling and worthwhile for an audience to listen to and watch in a live context. I actually just wrapped up an interview with John D where we touched on this very subject. My point to him was that perhaps ambient electronic music is simply not suited for live performance. Yes, you can perform live and many do, but as you can see from this thread, the results are often unsatisfying for both audience and performer.
 I likened the experience of listening to electronic ambient music to that of curling up with a good novel. That experience is often most satisfying and enjoyable when done in a quiet setting, in a comfortable chair, maybe by the fire with a cup of tea etc. Watching the author read from his novel in front of an audience will most likely result in a less satisfying and compelling experience than simply curling up with his book in a quiet, comfortable place.
I feel a strong urge to perform music in general, because I love playing with other musicians and in front of a live audience, but unless I can conjure up some kind of compelling experience to justify live performance, I'm thinking more and more that I should just resign myself to the fact that this particular genre of music is not really suited for live performance. Just my .02 cents, YMMV as they say :)

9dragons

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #42 on: June 05, 2010, 12:55:36 PM »
I can't wait to see Robert play when he comes to the Northwest. I have not yet seen a live show of electronic/ambient music, even though it is the majority of my home listening, but having listened to this music for years, I am certainly not expecting a bunch of musicians on stage wanking their instruments. That would be futile. I have somthing of an idea (from liner notes) of how this music is produced, and for me, going in to a live situation, I want to experience the sound itself, with the aritst present, directing with intention the sound toward the audience. To me it is the sound and the atmosphere that's important, not the stage antics of the performers. Live performance with a band is fake as well, with amps and effects extending the reach of the musicians. The excitement of their interaction might be interesting, but I would have to say that the most interesting live performance I've experienced was one old Chinese professor playing a guqin on a table alone for an hour. In terms of ambient, if the music is created by one person, it should legitimately be played by that same person. I know that the drum sounds are not 'real', I don't need to see someone slapping a drum to experience the emotion of the sound that's created. Imagine a concert like Steve Roach played in Grace Cathedral. That must have been awesome, the space alone was a contributor to the show...


ffcal

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #43 on: June 05, 2010, 12:59:13 PM »
Though there are always exceptions like Robert, Steve and Saul, I tend to agree with those who find our tiny genre more suitable for private listening, whether on an iPod on the train or at home.  Funny that John has in past championed artists like Jade Warrior, who created beautiful complex works in the studio, but were hardly known for live performance.  At least he wasn't critical of JW when its last incarnation did a one-time live show a few years back.

As for why I prefer not to perform live, it feels about as unnatural as painting in public.  You could do it, but why would you want to?

Forrest

judd stephens

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #44 on: June 05, 2010, 06:19:40 PM »
. I know that the drum sounds are not 'real', I don't need to see someone slapping a drum to experience the emotion of the sound that's created. Imagine a concert like Steve Roach played in Grace Cathedral. That must have been awesome, the space alone was a contributor to the show...

I agree pretty much, and would add that the drumming on the Rich set was thunderous- some of it was from Ylang I gather, and it was some of the best I've heard.  Not to mention if you have a drummer sitting in, he's basically inactive for almost half the set.  So unless it's natural to have more than one, like an ambient group (Suspended Memories) then like Jesse said earlier, you're not really going in to the concert for that unknown player.  I would say if it's possible, it would be cool, but only for the aspect of seeing another 'active' person, just to balance out the acoustic with the electro.  Also since not every gig is super-enhanced visually and spatially like a Grace Cathedral, having another person playing could be nice if nothing else for the visual appeal (conceding a small bit to John D. Labotamy's point).
« Last Edit: June 05, 2010, 06:26:09 PM by judd stephens »

LNerell

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #45 on: June 05, 2010, 07:38:39 PM »

As for why I prefer not to perform live, it feels about as unnatural as painting in public.  You could do it, but why would you want to?

Sorry to hear you feel that way Forest as I thought your performance at The COMA day of music festival back in the early 1990s was the high light of the weekend. I enjoyed it very much even though you were ten feet above everyone on top of the kitchen at System M, best use of kitchen utensils all weekend.  ;D

When I get some time I'll post my feelings on all this.
Take care.

- Loren Nerell

drone on

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #46 on: June 06, 2010, 04:03:43 AM »
I've seen plenty of rock gigs in my life where four people were strumming, plucking, and banging away and it was about as interesting as watching paint dry.  A successful live performance occurs when the music is good and you're diggin' it.  Doesn't matter to me whether someone's sitting behind a bank of electronics or a drumkit, if what they're doing sounds good and there is an emotional connection to it, it's going to be enjoyable.  It's strange to me John Diliberto is knocking Robert's live gigs or live EM gigs in general, after all these years of supposedly being a supporter of the genre.  But then again, he is not a musician himself, and so when he states an opinion like this, I say "consider the source."

ffcal

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #47 on: June 06, 2010, 11:54:23 AM »
Sorry to hear you feel that way Forest as I thought your performance at The COMA day of music festival back in the early 1990s was the high light of the weekend. I enjoyed it very much even though you were ten feet above everyone on top of the kitchen at System M, best use of kitchen utensils all weekend.  ;D

Loren,

Can't believe you were at that show--too bad we did meet then.  I remember very little of it, other than it was put together on fairly short notice, when one of the COMA festival's organizers, Titus Levi, asked me if I had a group that could perform there.  I remember putting together an improv group (called 'The Mandelbrot Trio') with members of the band Doll Parts (Rick Corrigan, Lynn Ablondi) and maybe rehearsing maybe once or twice before we did the show.  I also remember that we had to play while sitting on the floor of an elevated platform, and that I at one point was playing my palm harp while holding down some of the keys of my DSS-1 with my toes!  At least that performance was fun, and came with no expectations.

Forrest

Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #48 on: June 06, 2010, 12:39:26 PM »
I've seen plenty of rock gigs in my life where four people were strumming, plucking, and banging away and it was about as interesting as watching paint dry.  A successful live performance occurs when the music is good and you're diggin' it.  Doesn't matter to me whether someone's sitting behind a bank of electronics or a drumkit, if what they're doing sounds good and there is an emotional connection to it, it's going to be enjoyable.

I agree and disagree. I don't care about the "source" of the music either. As long as it is actually being interacted with. Meaning is the musician "spinning" the musical web out of thin air, or are they in effect hitting the play button on some pre-recorded tracks and doing a solo over the top. One is cool, the other is pretty lazy in my opinion.

Now ableton live can be played, you can interact with it so it can be cool, but it can also be a crutch which then delves into, did you make your own loops or are you doing a show with other peoples sounds.

I saw quite a few guys at the last City Skies festival who played solo, or in duos where one person was using ableton and the other was improvising and responding to it. Mark Mahoney is a great example of someone who rolls his own drum grooves, puts them in ableton and or uses some cool drum machines and plays synths live along with, but you never feel like he is doing a karaoke thing.

The only time I have enjoyed playing with ableton was when I did a 2 hour improve with Vir Unis and he was spinning his own custom grooves and sounds in ableton and I was improvising along with him and I had no idea what he was going to pull up next, so it really was a an interactive improvisational experience. Of course it was an on air performance and I am not sure how visually exciting it would have been live.

Point is (and this is John's point I am guessing) is that sure there are some people pulling it off, but more often than not it gets old and weak. Again in his list, I am not sure why he included Robert in that, because as far as I know Robert sets up and interacts with some tweaky backing sequences and such. Although, given a choice if money were no object, would I prefer to hear him approximate Ylang live himself or would I prefer to see him perform it with each of the original musicians on stage who played on the album. Of course I would choose they later, I am guessing he might too, if money was no object.

and that is a bottom line $$$ I am sure many of us would love to take our shows on the road with elaborate visuals, guest musicians and such and have it be sustainable, but it isn't.
Its the same reason Jazz groups in the 50's and 60's often started out as quintets, but often whittled down to trios...money.

Paul
"I liken good ambient to good poetry ... enjoyable, often powerful, and usually unpopular" APK

9dragons

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #49 on: June 06, 2010, 01:58:11 PM »
Reading Robert's tour blog and getting really excited for his Seattle show. I actually live within walking distance of the venue, which makes it even more exciting. I do so much walking in my neighborhood, it is cool to think that one of these strolls will lead to a Robert Rich show. Ambient music is about the only thing I really would like to see live. Bands are just too damn loud these days, all the enjoyment is stripped out of the sound. No band is worth damaging one's hearing over. Reading over Robert's tour blog there is a real sense of what a great guy he is. The fact that he is driving vast distances at to bring his music to the fans is impressive...

Anyone else on the forum going to the Portland or Seattle shows? I am considering the Portland shows, but might be too caught up in work.

LNerell

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #50 on: June 07, 2010, 11:22:30 AM »

Loren,

Can't believe you were at that show--too bad we did meet then.  I remember very little of it, other than it was put together on fairly short notice, when one of the COMA festival's organizers, Titus Levi, asked me if I had a group that could perform there.  I remember putting together an improv group (called 'The Mandelbrot Trio') with members of the band Doll Parts (Rick Corrigan, Lynn Ablondi) and maybe rehearsing maybe once or twice before we did the show.  I also remember that we had to play while sitting on the floor of an elevated platform, and that I at one point was playing my palm harp while holding down some of the keys of my DSS-1 with my toes!  At least that performance was fun, and came with no expectations.

Titus was the guy who told me you were performing (great guy Titus, he's now living in China). Funny I remember you and Lynn, but I don't remember Rick performing for some reason. And that elevated platform was on top of the kitchen. I remember the DSS-1 and your palm harp, I also remember Lynn playing some pots and pans to good effect, but we couldn't see you playing your synth with your toes from down below.

After the show you walked by me a few times while you were moving your gear out of the space. I was going to introduce myself after you finished but you disappeared. Oh well, next time I am in SF we will have to meet up.
Take care.

- Loren Nerell

MarkM

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #51 on: June 08, 2010, 08:15:42 PM »
Paul, thank you for the kind words. I like the term, "rolls his own drum grooves."

We're sure not getting a whole lot of radio play, so I think live performance is critical in keeping this genre alive. By going out and playing to the public, musicians can help spread ambient music to the unaware public. As Paul mentioned, I do use Ableton, but I think of it as one instrument in my kit. I don't consider my laptop the center of my performance nor my main "voice" or sound.

When Robert Rich played to a tiny number of people in Asheville, NC, there was an opening act that featured a fellow sitting next to his laptop smoking cigarettes as his Reason sequence played unaided. I think that was pushing live performance envelope a bit too far.

judd stephens

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #52 on: June 08, 2010, 08:32:33 PM »
there was an opening act that featured a fellow sitting next to his laptop smoking cigarettes as his Reason sequence played unaided. I think that was pushing live performance envelope a bit too far.

He's like the Andy Kaufman of ambient...

Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #53 on: June 08, 2010, 08:40:25 PM »
That almost made me spit tea all over my laptop...that was funny Judd!
"I liken good ambient to good poetry ... enjoyable, often powerful, and usually unpopular" APK

judd stephens

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #54 on: June 08, 2010, 09:10:47 PM »
Don't worry Paul, you won't be needing it... :P ;D

MPECK

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #55 on: June 08, 2010, 09:44:01 PM »
Quote
a fellow sitting next to his laptop smoking cigarettes as his Reason sequence played unaided.
Mark, I could have sworn he pressed the space bar at least once! And maybe that was a Marlboro Midi Controller? Beta version of course.

vidnaObmana

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #56 on: June 11, 2010, 03:54:26 AM »
Somehow I never valued John Diliberto's views, opinions and work on Echoes as important or vital.  For me it has an elite, wise-guy mentality that didn't stroke with my vision at the time and it still does.
His unfounded thoughts on how music needs to be performed is another proof on how he values and looks at music from his state of mind.
That said, time for some constructive thoughts  ;)

I too in my vidna years, along with Steve, worked (when computers were still too unreliable to use in live settings) with pre-recorded sources (on cd, using several cd players at once) which we then treated live through a maze of effects and processing devices.  Rhythms were most of the time multi-track constructions and therefor impossible to reproduce live.
Even then you had to rely on your focus and instinct in the heat of the moment because a lot of things could go wrong.
It was still fascinating though to work with this kind of set-up as you could easily realize every time a different flow, structure and atmosphere.  Live it was while you were able to reproduce your music world as closely as possible to the albums and the music you were known for.

I must admit as well that I myself in the past couple of years returned to the most basic, personal and minimal with my Microphonics project.  Stripping down the tools and going back to the core has been for me personally a true liberation.
In the context of playing live, creating the music on the spot, this has been all the more relaxing and focused as it gave the ability to limit my set-up to only just one guitar, a few pedal effects and a small tube amplifier.  And amazingly the music I've been able to carve out has more expression, atmosphere and emotion that on some of the most complicated vidnaObmana works from the past.

I personally never have been intriguied and motivated to work with a laptop on stage but I do can relate to the idea that artists need that tool in order to shape the specific tonality their music needs to have.
Even with a laptop, although I'm completely out of the loop on these software possibilities, I'm sure you can do a lot of great things live without being static or giving the audience the impression you're just checking your emails during the live set  ;)




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michael sandler

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #57 on: June 11, 2010, 07:49:13 PM »
Somehow I never valued John Diliberto's views, opinions and work on Echoes as important or vital.  For me it has an elite, wise-guy mentality that didn't stroke with my vision at the time and it still does.
His unfounded thoughts on how music needs to be performed is another proof on how he values and looks at music from his state of mind.
...

This whole conversation, the critic versus the artist, brings to mind something I read over 20 years ago that has stuck with me ever since. So I will don my asbestos underwear and throw this out for what it's worth...

"It is a melancholy experience for a professional mathematician to find himself writing about mathematics. The function of a mathematician is to do something, to prove new theorems, to add to mathematics, and not to talk about what he or other mathematicians have done. Statesmen despise publicists, painters despise art-critics, and physiologists, physicists, or mathematicians have usually similar feelings: there is no scorn more profound, or on the whole more justifiable, than that of the men who make for the men who explain. Exposition, criticism, appreciation, is work for second-rate minds."

G.H. Hardy, A Mathematician's Apology

MikeS (running for cover)...

Chad Kettering

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #58 on: June 11, 2010, 08:21:52 PM »
This is a very interesting subject!

As I have seen a few ambient music concerts, or electronic music concerts, I am always left a bit perplexed by the live experience. I think that what we come to "see" at a live concert is the performer in action. It is vitally important for the artist to perform visually as much sonically. Before the age of modern technology, we came to see people play real instruments because we understood what a gift it is to be both proficient and musical. Seeing somebody play and convey both the virtuosity and emotional intensity is what makes a great live performance.

I think that for electronic musicians, especially ambient artists there needs to be something to visually connect with. Whether that be the artist playing an instrument that people can directly connect to the sound, or a visual presentation that can draw the audience's attention into while the music is being generated.

Robert Rich has two instruments that people can really focus in on. The flutes and the lap steel guitar. I think that bringing those elements out to the foreground more would really stimulate the emotional connection to what is going on.

Vidna,

Love the comments about Diliberto....







« Last Edit: June 12, 2010, 03:54:33 PM by Chad Kettering »

sraymar

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Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« Reply #59 on: June 19, 2010, 11:48:43 PM »
I just got back from seeing Robert live at the da gallery in Pamona and it was a full house too. In addition to his usual flutes he played a little dog whistle sized flute that had a suprisingly broad range, for fun he also whipped out a circular beaded thing that sounded sort of like a mini-rainstick, a  waterphone, and a couple of small bells. I love the way he segues from tune to tune and also some of the interesting sounds he conjures up from his small modular synth. I haven't been under a blacklight in years and the whole place was under their spell with lots of interesting florescently painted art plus some lazer lighting going on and more slithering light stuff overhead. He played a few pieces from ylang which I'm listening to now, love this CD!

I'm glad he came down from the mountain to play for us mere mortals.  :)

Steve
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 07:02:42 PM by sraymar »
Ambient isn't just for technicians!

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