Robert Rich "Trances & Drones" 2xCD
I was always dreaming about penning down few lines on this very special recording, I think today is the right day, so let's do it. Yes, "Trances/Drones" is a very important recording for me, I still keep clearly in mind the day in 1995 when Extreme edition of "Trances/Drones" crossed my targets. My sonic explorations were culminating around that time. But as soon as "Hayagriva" invaded my listening room, I knew something special is about to happen... Yes, a brand new gates were unlocked, a definite turning point!!! Of course at that day I didn't know too much about the guy named Robert Rich, but soon after that I dove deeper into the soundworlds of Robert Rich and soon realized amazing facts about this release. Robert Rich has recorded tracks for "Trances/Drones" during 1982 and 1983, aged between 19 and 20 years old. And this is what fascinates me the most!!! This was also the period of time, when Robert Rich has given his legendary sleep concerts during his studies at Stanford University. All these recordings were a truly visionary work, that soon became a base for his future extensive body of work. Firstly released as three separate cassettes "Sunyata", "Trances" and "Drones" by Robert's own Soundscape Productions label, in 1994 for the first time presented as a double CD edition "Trances/Drones" by Australian Extreme label featuring most of the tracks from these three cassettes, in remastered versions (remastered in 1993 by Robert Rich with the assistance of HoS veteran Bob Olhsson). First reissue followed during 2000 on US label Release Entertainment, a sublabel of Relapse Records. Now, 13 years later, we can celebrate a really gorgeous, richly repackaged digipak reissue by Hypnos (big thanks to Mike Griffin!!!) in collaboration with Robert's Soundscape Productions, released during July, 2013. The return of the Milestone!!!
Maybe it's not usual reviewing 30-year old recordings, but I don't mind, because this music sounds exceptional and it keeps on revealing its magic even in 2013!!! Also excuse me for being too personal in this review, but these are my feelings about "Trances/Drones" and this is the way I will always treasure this extraordinary piece of art!!!
The journey unfolds with "Cave Paintings", the listener is immediately transported into mysterious forest, falling night with serenading cicadas-like sounds, the full immersion invades, the darker, drone passages are stunningly intermingled with lighter traceries and rather high-pitched, soaring lap steel guitar expressions, always harmoniously fitting and progressing. Slightly nostalgic feel surrounds the entire, 24-minute long composition. A virtuoso opening!!! The next track, a 25-plus minutes long opus, is entitled "Hayagriva", a live recording. It dives straightly into breathtaking abyssal realms, modular synth drones meander through spectacularly magnificent cascades, drifting from more resonating, heavy weight passages through phantasmal, dramatic elevations to ear-tickling dissonances. This is extremely mind-blowing sonic experience, one of the most intense I have ever heard, what a journey!!! "Sunyata (Emptiness)" is the oldest piece on "Trances", recorded in 1982. With this composition, Robert Rich invites each listener to enter uncharted shadowy terrains and explore uniquely organic soundscape at its most primordial. Sounds of gentle rain drops and chirping frogs are merged with dense drone walls and strange flute-infused roars. And guarded throughout by otherworldly amorphous groans. A must have for all connoisseurs of the finest deepness and darkness!!! All in all, "Trances" is enormously triumphant sonic adventure, introducing among others bamboo flute and lap steel guitar magics, which later became significant characteristics of Robert Rich's brilliant soundsculpting.
"Drones" reveal tranquilly with 30-minute "Seascape". It exactly sounds as it is titled, elegantly warm, atmospheric cascades are blanketed by soothing ocean wave sounds. As the composition proceeds, calm coastal landscape continuously expands into more disruptive, yet continuously immersing drone bliss. Lots of beautiful meanders, hauntingly serene drifts invade and fade away, then deeply mindscaping shifts steal the show with resonating drone walls and eerie moans. Then smoothly gliding back to more aerial and restful shoreline panoramas. Echoed string wizardry takes "Seascape" to its conclusion. A truly phenomenal composition!!! "Wheel Of Earth", only slightly shorter as its predecessor, swiftly reveals its magic with the invasion of ultra deep slow drones, shortly from the back, milder, soaring fragments sneak in to thick the overall sound massiveness, which strongly embraces with its monotonousness. This is Robert Rich at his most mesmerizing!!! "Resonance" free falls into immeasurable deep chasm of coldly resonating hums intertwined with intangible dim fragments. Ghostly dronescapes provide really serious exercise for your speakers and additional massage for your belly too... By the way, "Resonance" is an exclusive track to this set, recorded in 1983, it didn't appear on any of the three above mentioned cassette releases. And undoubtedly, "Drones" are as much fascinating and glowing as "Trances"!!!
Robert Rich is one of the true masters of our genre, monstrously talented, creative, sophisticated and distinguishing!!! Today, at August 23rd, 2013, when I am publishing these lines, Robert Rich celebrates his 50th Birthday. This is my little big thanks, Robert, for all your wonderful music, enjoy this special day as much as we enjoy your essential sonic innovations throughout all these years!!! We all have a special day every time you release a new album!!!
Richard Gürtler (Aug 23, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)