Robert Rich "Morphology" CD
I was very excited about this live CD since the very first day when Darren Bergstein of Anodize (and Periphery) has announced it on his Bandcamp site. Having name such as Robert Rich on your own label is of course always a quite challenging task. And having a live CD by Robert Rich always on your hand in your own listening environment, that's another exciting thing, no question about that. Except Anodize/Periphery projects, Darren is also the guy who has organized many unforgettable live shows through his One Thousand Pulses concert series and "Morphology", performed live at May 15, 2010 in northeast New Jersey, is a sonic document taken from these series. On the top of that, in the meantime I had the opportunity to experience personally Robert Rich's live performance, his sleep concert in the middle of October 2013 in Krakow, Poland. Definitely enough facts to be really excited long time before the disc hits the streets!!!
Stuck to Anodize attractive packaging concept, the CD comes in a hinged rectangular tin with front and back stickers with 2-panel insert. Very strong beginning!!! And the opening piece "Alhambra" takes the listener straightly into richly fragranced soundworlds that Robert Rich is famous for. Middle East perfume is all over this amazing composition on which many trademarking signatures of Robert Rich are masterfully displayed. No matter if it's utterly evocative flute, unlimited stringed virtuosity, high-spirited percussive rhythms or distant atmospheric blankets. A pure magic of "Seven Veils" is awaken once again!!! "Attar" is guarded by slightly spacious washes, but the center stage is occupied by haunting interactions of sharper exotic tribal rhythms, wistful flute, crystalline piano expressions and fragilely tinkling percussions. A truly distinguishing electro acoustic performance and one of the unforgettable jewels from "Ylang" album. Wow, just two tracks and I am fully transported into spectacularly flavored places!!! "Vetiver" is taken from the same album and it's again cleverly amalgamated composition, where sluggish rhythm base precisely intermingle with flute wizardry. But it's a lap steel guitar bravura that steels the show later when precisely evoking some female scream-like soars, with a very hallucinogenic effect. "Touch-Release", the first of two unreleased pieces on "Morphology", dives into quietly meandering realms with some remote blips interwoven. Expansive drifts with strongly organic touch are again guarded above by female piercing sounds, flimsy tinkles emerge occasionally. Enormously evocative composition and another big one!!! "Geode", which originally appeared on "Lithosphere" (with Ian Boddy), unfolds with all kinds of blips and tinkles, quite minimal, but soon a siren cry sneak in, while the tinkling percussions smoothly shift and reach primordial flavor. Intro with natural sounds announces "Other Side Of Twilight", which is the shorter, 12 and half minute long live version of the famous classic track from "Numena". Chirping birds interact with distant pulses and ocarina-like calls, a very tranquil atmosphere is immediately set. The composition moves through gorgeous cascades, where sharper, undulating sequences are masterfully counterpointed with dreamier synth passages and stunningly evocative lap steel cries. Originally composed back in 1986, this is absolutely triumphant live presentation of this Hall of Fame composition!!! The next one, "Nesting On Cliffsides", which clocks to nearly 13 minutes, starts with cyber-tech oddment and quickly progresses into uniquely colored rhythm bridged with lap steel soars and other strange voice-like fragments. All kinds of bizarre sounds pop up along the way, dramatically increase in volume and after relievedly disappear. Then abyssal drones invade, but weird collage of industrial rumbles, buzzes and squeaks quickly steals the show, before this escapade calms down. The phantasmagorical "Bestiary" is back!!! And it fits precisely also to the following, title track "Morphology", the second unreleased piece on the CD. Weird noises keep on outbursting here and there and interact with mesmerizingly galloping and mindscaping groove. The closing "Edge Of Nowhere" instantly brings back crystalline razor-sharp synthetic feel known from collaborations with Ian Boddy. This one comes from their "Outpost" album. Rippling high-tech electronic rhythms are meticulously merged with distant dreamscapes and expressive lap steel cries. A perfect conclusion to this 74-minute long live recording!!!
"Morphology" is definitely not your ordinary ambient album, it's a live document showcasing Robert Rich at the top of his uniquely inventive artistry. "Morphology" was released during December 2013 as a limited edition of 300 pieces and as far I know it's still available via Anodize or directly from Robert, so make sure to grab your tin as soon as possible, because otherwise you will miss another brilliant release by this Californian musical genius!!! Well, the fact this CD is still available is far beyond my understanding... Last but not least, kudos to Darren Bergstein for bringing this concert to our listening rooms and bravo to Robert Rich for all these groundbreaking explorations!!!
Richard Gürtler (Mar 12, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)