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MUSIC, AMBIENCE AND SOUND ART => Other Ambient (and related) Music => Topic started by: petekelly on May 12, 2010, 07:19:02 AM

Title: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: petekelly on May 12, 2010, 07:19:02 AM

I found this to be a Interesting read, particularly as a travelogue. I was struck by finding that even the 'premier league' ambient dudes can
experience disappointment and uncertainty. I found this quote to be quite inspiring about what Robert was trying to achieve:

'...Once again I'm a bit concerned about low turnout here in Burlington. I don't think many people here know about my music, and I feel a whisper
from the shadow of uncertainty; trying to overcome lingering doubts about perpetual obscurity, while trying to communicate something quiet and
personal in this distracted and overmodulated world...'


http://robertrich.com/tour-blog-live-updates/

cheers
Pete
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: michael sandler on May 12, 2010, 07:42:13 AM
Well, at least he got to stay in a hotel with a jaccuzzi.  ;D

I've read Robert's blog from previous tours, and I also found it eye-opening. In this tiny niche market, he is a rock star. In the broader world, he is unknown.

MikeS
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: mgriffin on May 12, 2010, 08:22:00 AM
Having talked with Robert before, during and after several previous tours, I think he hopes for the best but realizes that any given gig might very well have a turnout of only a few people.  Often you can't know until you arrive in Des Moines, Memphis or Cleveland which show will be a success (due to a decent little pocket of fan awareness, plus a DJ or local promoter getting out the word) or a poorly-attended flop.  I also got the sense from Robert that the lion's share of the attendance and CD sales numbers come from a handful of gigs. 

It must be disappointing, though, after many years of work both in the studio and on tour, to see the number of fans dwindling rather than growing.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Anodize DB on May 12, 2010, 04:59:31 PM
Quote from: mgriffin on May 12, 2010, 08:22:00 AM
 It must be disappointing, though, after many years of work both in the studio and on tour, to see the number of fans dwindling rather than growing.

I'm not sure that's the case, a dwindling fan base, per se. "Shrinkage" does exist to some degree, but the very fact that Robert's out there, driving cross-country, connecting on so many levels, making considerable effort, does in fact continue to maintain, even raise, his profile. We all know that such a "fan base" doesn't number in the millions much like the average pop/rap/hiphop star, and never will - such is the name (fact) of the game.

I certainly understand Robert's concerns. That being said, pre-sales for his OTP gig here this Saturday have been strong & steady, and I expect his to be OTP's largest attendance thus far, previous respectable-sized turnouts notwithstanding.

(And, in the spirit of this thread, might I also suggest that those forumites still considering Robert's upcoming performance @ OTP show their support by attending - I expect his show to be one of this year's highlights!) :)
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: mgriffin on May 12, 2010, 05:53:55 PM
I should clarify that I don't perceive Robert's profile as declining.  I was just responding to the excerpt from Robert's own blog in which he expressed concerns that could be read that way.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: drone on on May 12, 2010, 06:39:18 PM
I saw Robert back in '94 at a little church in San Francisco for the Propagation album (Noe Valley Ministry), twas a fan-frickintastic concert (with Lisa Moscow on sarod), but very low turnout, even for this little place.  I think back then before the Internet caught on it was even harder to advertise shows like this--you'd find out about it via small flyers, local freebie papers, or word of mouth.  Nowadays I'm sure the turnout is bigger with his performances, but probably still not that big, and I think this is due to the nature of the music.  EM is not popular in the US compared to Europe, where people buy more CD's and attend more EM concerts. Meanwhile, Britney Spears sells out at the HP Pavilion or Oakland Coliseum.  Sad! Just shows the majority of the population has the worst taste in music imagineable...
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: ffcal on May 12, 2010, 10:42:59 PM
Quote from: drone on on May 12, 2010, 06:39:18 PM
I saw Robert back in '94 at a little church in San Francisco for the Propagation album (Noe Valley Ministry), twas a fan-frickintastic concert (with Lisa Moscow on sarod), but very low turnout, even for this little place.  I think back then before the Internet caught on it was even harder to advertise shows like this--you'd find out about it via small flyers, local freebie papers, or word of mouth.  Nowadays I'm sure the turnout is bigger with his performances, but probably still not that big, and I think this is due to the nature of the music.  EM is not popular in the US compared to Europe, where people buy more CD's and attend more EM concerts. Meanwhile, Britney Spears sells out at the HP Pavilion or Oakland Coliseum.  Sad! Just shows the majority of the population has the worst taste in music imagineable...

Noe Valley Ministry is where I met Robert back in 1993, when Jorge Reyes came to town.  Stephen Hill introduced me to him.

Forrest
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: vidnaObmana on May 15, 2010, 03:25:05 AM
I think it's mostly a sign of the times.  We may not forget that we're not getting younger and it seems the the next generations of music lovers are quite different from our generation.  I do see this happening to my own and other gigs throughout Europe.  Quite unpredictable as with my recent Microphonics tour throughout Europe I played before audiences of 120 people or just even 4 people.  Nevertheless on both occassions they were impressive and very respectful.  I just don't mind playing for a gathering of 100 people or 4, I can't take it for granted that I do these concerts and that I'm able to share my passion with others.  I just love the fact of playing intimate and very small-scaled concerts more and more.  It's a fact that our kind of music nowadays gets more and more 'underground' than even before in our high days of electronic music scene of the 80's and 90's.

Of course there's a huge difference between Robert and myself, I think Robert still tries to live from his music while I have a 9 to 5 dayjob, which gives me, apart from the frustration now & then, the extreme freedom to do whatever I want with my music - whether it's commercially accepted or not.
I'm sure the decreasing interest in our music scene must put a lot of pressure on Robert's shoulders.

For those who are interested in reading the blog on my Microphonics tour, about the hi and lows, the seedy venues and promoters, the respectful audiences and the satisfaction of playing your music before audiences : www.dirkserries.com
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: doombient on May 15, 2010, 10:58:28 AM
This type of frustration is of course something which goes to spoil the pleasure of making music, especially when your own creativity is an important source of your income. Not to lose one´s artistic integrity is the hardest part, and I think Robert deserves lots of kudos for not giving up on his vision.

Personally, I´m somewhere between Dirk and Robert... I work on a freelance basis to pay the bills and make music to enable me to continue making music, but sometimes I´d wish there was a little more coming back from all the energy that has gone into it for the past twenty or so years. I mean, it could be a lot worse still, but...

Stephen
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Mark Mushet on May 15, 2010, 12:40:16 PM
I am going to try make it down for the Seattle show if I'm able. I do think that as time goes on people have more immediate obligations so there is probably more intent to support artists. But unfortunately you can't take that to the bank!
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: dreamin4ever on May 15, 2010, 01:12:58 PM
Quote from: vidnaObmana on May 15, 2010, 03:25:05 AM
I think it's mostly a sign of the times.  We may not forget that we're not getting younger and it seems the the next generations of music lovers are quite different from our generation.  I do see this happening to my own and other gigs throughout Europe.  Quite unpredictable as with my recent Microphonics tour throughout Europe I played before audiences of 120 people or just even 4 people.  Nevertheless on both occassions they were impressive and very respectful.  I just don't mind playing for a gathering of 100 people or 4, I can't take it for granted that I do these concerts and that I'm able to share my passion with others.  I just love the fact of playing intimate and very small-scaled concerts more and more.  It's a fact that our kind of music nowadays gets more and more 'underground' than even before in our high days of electronic music scene of the 80's and 90's.

Of course there's a huge difference between Robert and myself, I think Robert still tries to live from his music while I have a 9 to 5 dayjob, which gives me, apart from the frustration now & then, the extreme freedom to do whatever I want with my music - whether it's commercially accepted or not.
I'm sure the decreasing interest in our music scene must put a lot of pressure on Robert's shoulders.

For those who are interested in reading the blog on my Microphonics tour, about the hi and lows, the seedy venues and promoters, the respectful audiences and the satisfaction of playing your music before audiences : www.dirkserries.com


Hello Vidna, Any plans of coming back to the USA for a concert or mini tour. I think the last time I saw you was in NYC several years back. I had to leave early becouse I had to catch a early flight out of JFK the next morning. But it was by chance that I got to see you perform. Even if it was for 30 minutes or so. I've flown across the pond three times in the last year and half to see Edgar Froese and Tangerine Dream in concert. I've been trying to get hEdgar to come back to the US for anothre live gig. Like you said were all not getting any younger. Just wiser. Cheers.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: doombient on May 16, 2010, 01:57:08 AM
Quote from: dreamin4ever on May 15, 2010, 01:12:58 PM

Like you said were all not getting any younger. Just wiser. Cheers.

Do we?

Stephen
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: vidnaObmana on May 16, 2010, 02:26:08 PM


Well, I surely have plans to return to the States with my Microphonics project and I can only hope to persuade a few promoters to jump on the wagon in organising a few gigs.  If it happens I'll surely let you know.  Thanx.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: petekelly on May 19, 2010, 06:09:24 AM
Interesting replies,

I found it encouraging to hear Robert's thoughts, to try to make a living from one's creative endeavours in the ambient world is quite a feat.
Good to see him keeping on creating and performing.
From what I can gather a lot of ambient artists create because thats what they do, like a lot of 'fine artists' I knew do as well.

cheers
Pete
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: MarkM on May 23, 2010, 02:47:21 PM
I saw Rich play in Asheville, NC about 6-7 years ago. You would think a hip place like that would draw some kind of a crowd. Including the three of us from Tenn. there were about 13 in attendance (including the other performers.) It was bad promotion. I had called the venue (a seedy one at that) to confirm Rich would be there. They were unsure which Robert Rich was going to be there. Asheville also had a DJ by that name. The promoter dropped the ball.

Yesterday we had a show in little Johnson City, TN, and with a little bit of promotion we had over 35 paid listeners in the audience. There was no big name like Robert Rich or Steve Roach. We had mention with pix in three newspapers, and we promoted it heavily on the internet. In the past, with more promotion and before the local college let out, we had shows with as many as 90 in attendance.

So I guess my point is, perhaps the promoters are not doing their job. Publicity, timing, and venue are critical.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: doombient on May 24, 2010, 12:45:50 PM
Proper promotion is the be-all and end-all of everything. How would people know such music exists if nobody tells them?

Stephen
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: tcplugin on May 25, 2010, 01:48:41 PM
Quote from: MarkM on May 23, 2010, 02:47:21 PM
Publicity, timing, and venue are critical.

Yep. I have been organizing a few small ambient festivals myself the last 2 years, Dirk Serries (VidnaObmana) played on both editions. I was pretty happy with the 60-70 people this year but it required a lot of effort to get where we are now. Honestly, for me it's not the number of people who attend the show, it's the overall atmosphere which counts. Some ingredients which worked well for us: a theatre like venue with seats for the public, light show, good quality PA, a sound engineer who understands the genre.

Timing is also important, we moved our small festival from end of May to early March: less competition from the weather and other events.

Publicity: internet communities like twitter, facebook and music forums seems to work well here. In addition to that, a good website and connections with the experimental music media is very important.

My two cents ;-)
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: MarkM on May 25, 2010, 05:16:24 PM
Quote from: Sjaak on May 25, 2010, 01:48:41 PM

a good website and connections with the experimental music media is very important.

Good point.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: judd stephens on June 02, 2010, 09:37:10 PM
Well I experienced my first ambient concert as Robert played last night here in Denver.  Jesse Sola aka Numina hosted the living room concert.   I'd say if he's coming to a town near you and you're on the fence, definitely do it.  The set he played here in particular really rocked.  Percussive heavy and plenty of live-lap steel guitar, and nice swampy interludes.  I didn't realize how much the source of his 'trademark' sound is actually coming from his guitar, you know, the siren-like, almost vocal sounding notes on many of his albums.  He even played as far back as Numena, from the 80's!  His live rendition was just that- live, not sounding like he was just playing a cd.   I imagine Robert's one of the more 'active' ambient performers in concert, juggling a few synths, flute and guitar.  He did pull out a few bells and whistles (literally) and some other ambient props during one interlude.   

Robert's got a great sense of humor and he's about as approachable as it gets- it was less like a concert and more just like friends hanging out.  His wife was with them and they were selling quite a few of his cd's.  If you're an ambient musician and you want to come to Denver I say, please, we'd love to have you here in the mountains.  I hope I speak for the organizers when I say that  ;D-  No I think there's definitely a solid audience and potentially even bigger venues.  But definitely, Robert Rich live is not a bad gig.     
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: LNerell on June 03, 2010, 12:30:19 PM
Anyone read John Diliberto take on Robert's and other similar concerts? Here's the link:

http://echoesblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/metheny-mecanique-and-karaoke-koncerts/ (http://echoesblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/metheny-mecanique-and-karaoke-koncerts/)

I'm not saying I agree with him, in fact I'm actually looking forward to seeing Robert when he comes to town, just an interesting take from someone who claims they are a fan of our kind of music.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: APK on June 03, 2010, 02:32:15 PM
I just read the John D. article. It does make a very clear point regarding 'live' performances that are often more 'live' in name rather than in practice. I wouldn't join Jesse in calling it an obviously ridiculous position. I remember seeing a photo of a Biosphere/Jensen live show equipment rig a year or two ago ... it was a laptop and a tiny midi keyboard. I know I'd be depressed staring at him 'playing' that for an hour or two and merely giving me a slight rehash of old tunes. Yes, we are in a genre where its very often one person who multitracks to computer to create the music, and this layering can not easily (if at all) be duplicated in a live situation. But don't fool yourself into thinking that playing along to a pre-prepared CD (or whatever) is the same as a fully live performance. The karaoke analogy used by Diliberto is an apt one. But this is not a black and white situation (very little is). Its not an all live vs. some of it is live dichotomy. I think John D. is down on the 'most of it's simply not live' scenario, and this should not, perhaps, be billed as live. Maybe we need a new label for these not very live 'performances'.

I grew up in England going to a ton of concerts. I tell ya, if the drummer stopped playing, and we still heard drums, we would chuck stuff.   ;D
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le) on June 03, 2010, 04:56:23 PM
Well for where I am at in life, and pretty much the view I have personally held  in my entire live performance life really resonates with some of John D's statements. Especially this one:


"If that means a solo set, then scale it to what you can actually play live without backing.    If you really need a band but you're not committed enough to go to the expense or find like-minded players willing to suffer for your art, then perhaps you shouldn't be playing live concerts at all."

I personally for the last few years have held strong to this. At this point I disdain computers on stage and I have never been fully satisfied when Chris and I have used backing tracks, yet I have no issue with drum machines like an Electribe or an analog sequence like Robert spins out at his show, there is still something organic in that, but a dude and a laptop usually equals lame to me much of the time, unless they are actually playing soft synths as a instrument and not a backing track...obviously I am not an ableton live fan.

I admit to a personal snobishness that says "learn to play an instrument and interact with others who do the same."

But if people will come and see and buy tickets and enjoy it...who am I to say. I am just slightly surly tonight and enjoyed Johns piece, if anything it should make us think.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Robert Logan on June 03, 2010, 05:13:29 PM
I have no problem with someone using a laptop and controllers live - if that's what's required to get their sound across and if they're actually re-rendering the material on the fly in some way. Some musicians are doing very interesting things with home made patches and sequencers in a live setting and I've been to lots of beautifully intense gigs involving laptops. In some ways, I find witnessing that just as exciting as great musicians interacting on traditional instruments, because I'm not there to watch some visual demonstration of musical athleticism but instead to listen to fresh sounds.

Obviously, context is important, and these things can be done tastelessly. Miming, for example, is awful, and I find using computers to replace acoustic instruments or things that could be played by other musicians rather despicable. I also think that some live playing by electronic musicians is karaoke-like, but not for the reasons that the author stated. Some electronic musicians, for example, have the laptop playing almost everything, but arbitrarily play one part themselves and occasionally pepper that with a tap on a drum machine here and a squirt from another machine there and plucks on guitar there. I would personally rather they dumped all those bits and bobs that perhaps look more impressive or live to onlookers - and instead explore ways of meaningfully and substantially changing the sounds being spewed out from the computer on the computer itself. Or, as some have been doing, combining that live computer-driven process with more traditional and blatantly live playing on 'proper' instruments.       

Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le) on June 03, 2010, 05:15:39 PM
Quote from: Numina on June 03, 2010, 02:56:45 PMThat said, Robert Rich and Roach alike are using the computer for elements that everyone really wants to hear but can only be achieved with the use of a computer or sequencer. 
J.

I am not sure I agree with this, only in that both the folks you mention, used to create these elements live without the computer and I think it made for a more compelling performance, strictly as a performance for people to watch. I think that is something we often forget, when people come to see us live they are expecting a certain level of entertainment, not strictly music. The same extends to famous groups live, I am probably going to be stoned for this, but depech mode on the Exciter tour ...IE 4 guys standing unmoving at their keyboards was pretty damn boring from an audience perspective as well.

PV
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le) on June 03, 2010, 05:31:43 PM
I agree working with computers and sequencers is like spinning plates  ;D
I also was not attacking Robert he has chops. And I could care less what folks do when recording their music if the finished album is good, then its good (well I do care, but thats a whole different post).

But I do think live needs to contain the artist hanging on by a thread, pushing themselves beyond their ability, improvising with adversity and the unexpected and needs to at least ...be live. Go to City Skies and Different Skies and Electro Music and there are plenty of cats who meet this criteria.

Some can and some can't, simple as that. We need to stop accepting table scraps and mediocrity (not talking about Robert again before anyone jumps on me) as "well that's all there is", or worst yet "Artistic".

Like I said, John's article should challenge all of us and make us think.

PV
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Christopher Short - Ma Ja Le' on June 03, 2010, 10:00:20 PM
Music, especially improvised music is a conversation between instrumentalists.

Unless you are insane, can you really talk to yourself for very long and be engaged or engaging? However when talking to others especially if it's the right people a conversation can go on and on because it IS engaging.

So I think Diliberto has a point. A one man show ultimately isn't that interesting to watch for an extended period. Even the Metheny Orchestrion idea would get old quick and that guy has chops galore and it has a visual element of the instruments on stage instead of sounds coming out of speakers from samples playing from some device. Also I checked out the Metheny video on his site www.patmetheny.com/orchestrioninfo and he said something I thought telling.

He mentioned when a musician is in a situation such as overdubbing and playing to themselves there is an imprint like a fingerprint to fingerprint (see the video at about 5:22.) I think he simultaneously hit on what is beautiful about the process and what is also a dead end about it. Because if you are only responding to yourself then it's much like having a conversation with yourself. It's one sided and probably not that interesting in the long term. I've noticed the same thing when doing live looping which is a common tool in electronic music.

In watching Metheny with his Orchestrion I was initially excited (in part because I love 19th century Orchestrion's) but quickly realized what he was getting out of the instrument was no different than what I have heard him do with other musicians. I would have been more excited to hear him use the process to come up with some new directions in sound.

When I see live performances part of what engages me the most is seeing how musicians get sounds out of their instrument and getting a sense of how the music is created. There is also an interplay in imperfection that is fascinating. Human beings flow, their tempo swings and the emotional connection that pours out from a really great set of players connects with the audience.
Disconnection only yields more disconnection. The man playing the computer is disconnected from striking the head on a drum, the audience is disconnected from seeing the force of the blow on that drum and hearing the explosion of sound it creates and so on. Disconnected. Disinterested. Disengaged.

The electronic music genre needs a shot in the arm. Badly. Getting three or four folks on stage playing together might just be the ticket to bring more interest in what is happening both on stage and off. Otherwise in performance you might as well resort to getting some Solid Gold dancers or Fly Girls or what have you to sell all that mouse jockeying.

Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: ffcal on June 03, 2010, 11:03:05 PM
As one who does not like performing live at all, I admire those who have the stomach for it.  But I don't understand John's use of Robert to make his point about live performance.  Robert is touring in support of a specific album, and that album doesn't happen to be based on a conventional band, in the sense of using the same core of musicians on every track.  I don't think it helps for John to apply a rock/jazz/folk paradigm to the live performance of ambient music.  I also think that creating music in the studio, regardless of whether it is done with one person or ten, is a form of expression that is fundamentally different from live performance; one form is no more legitimate than the other, unless you have already chosen sides.  Of course, the economics of traveling across the country to perform ambient music does not exactly lend itself to touring with a conventional band, either, unless you are signed to a label with some significant coin to subsidize it.

Forrest
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: petekelly on June 04, 2010, 01:18:14 AM
Diliberto's blog didn't challenge me or make me think at all. It's an old argument and it seemed rather mean-spirited including Robert in it. As Jesse says, he's been touring in this way for years.

Sure, watching some dude operating his laptop perhaps isn't the last word in entertainment, but watching a lot of 'real' instrumentalists isn't
necessarily that exciting either. What ever happened to 'stage presence' ?

Pete
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: doombient on June 04, 2010, 01:50:16 AM
I recently attended a show by Thomas Köner. As much as I enjoyed the music and the visuals, I can´t call flipping open a laptop and just running Ableton Live a *concert*. More a CD presentation with the artist being around. Which is nice but not exactly a concert IMO. There´s nothing wrong with a computer on stage if it helps creating music on the spot but if that´s all there is... I´m not sure what to make of that.

Stephen
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: modulator_esp on June 04, 2010, 05:39:43 AM
Having put on and attended lots of ambient/EM gigs over the last few years I find that 'karaoke' style EM can be OK if it is done well and is entertaining, but personally I find it a lot less engaging than a real live performance, where all the elements are performed live and there is little or no pre-recorded backing
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: einstein36 on June 04, 2010, 08:17:21 AM
okay....gotta throw my .02 cents in this conversation:)...

I have been asked in the past myself why I don't perform my music live and I tell them like most EM artists is that ambient music is very complicated and sequenced out, but I have found that yes, I still need a laptop but only for the purpose of running the soft sythns since that's what I use the majority of the time and I can do improvised live playing just using the soft sythns playing in real time improvised..

also, watching a behind the scenes making of on performing live and one member of a band said that to have a really successful live avenue, one has to engage the audience even if that means stepping out from behind the sythn and maybe talk about the song, why you created it the way you did, maybe a joke about the song, hell...maybe talk about yourself and your life.....and the band member said this will help the audience members connect even more to one's music...
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on June 04, 2010, 10:40:33 AM
Over the years, I've been to quite a few live electronic music performances.  I've probably outclocked rock shows by now!

I can see the argument made that Dude Plus Laptop doesn't always make for great live experience, but most rock bands are so inconsistent live that it doesn't hold much water for me.  I watched Wolfgang Voigt "perform" Gas (essentially a CD listening party) and it was some of the most compelling moments of any music I've ever heard played anywhere. 

I think atmosphere goes a long way in these performances.  If they're in a nice place (Philly's St. Mary's church for example) or if the artist is "rich" enough to be able to bring interesting visuals, I find that I hardly even pay attention to the artist on stage, which seems preferable in this over-saturated age of retarded rock moves.  As with everything, I guess, personal tastes vary.

One of my favorite electronic music shows was Markus Popp playing Oval music before a Tortoise show in a crowded club.  I remember he had a big computer, because I think this was before the proliferation of laptops, so it was unusual to see a dapper fellow up on stage with just a computer.  Anyway, he played his gentle music over all the crazy talk and noise in the club and it was just a perfect furniture music kind of experience.  After a while you couldn't tell where music ended and audience began.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Christopher Short - Ma Ja Le' on June 04, 2010, 12:49:23 PM
I should probably clarify my last post a bit. I have seen a lot of one man shows including Fripp, Rich, Roach, Vidna, Johnson and others. Doing it by yourself can be very on edge, engaging and it really takes a great musician to pull it off. And the guys mentioned above have done great music both off and on stage. The point is the format is getting old, much like Rock trio's did in the 60s so someone like JD who has heard a lot of music and has been active in the genre for 35 years (I think he said) he is probably making the judgment based on how many performances of this type he has seen over the years. The question here is what do you do as an artist to keep things fresh for an audience already familiar with the genre?

I like how small and portable laptops are as an instrument, but am not convinced they make a good instrument because for one they are the same thing folks type on all day to do their work. And there is probably an association with having the computer do it for you that is in the perception of most folks that devalues a laptop as an instrument as well. Which is not to make a statement either way of what a lap top is or isn't or could be, just a commentary on public perception.

Not to mention even in "sleeper" music one would probably like to have something to look at before they drift off. I know the Gathering series does a great job with their light shows in this regard. So some of this perception comes down to stage presence, presentation and showmanship. All lap tops aside. :-)

For myself at this point I would rather play with and see more musicians on stage than not. I think there are more possibilities with this approach and could lead to untraveled areas within the genre. A journey which I and probably others would find more intriguing artistically.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Christopher Short - Ma Ja Le' on June 04, 2010, 03:53:33 PM
Hey Brian, What made the Wolfgang Voigt performance so compelling?
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: michael sandler on June 04, 2010, 04:22:28 PM
Quote from: LNerell on June 03, 2010, 12:30:19 PM
Anyone read John Diliberto take on Robert's and other similar concerts? Here's the link:

http://echoesblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/metheny-mecanique-and-karaoke-koncerts/ (http://echoesblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/metheny-mecanique-and-karaoke-koncerts/)

I'm not saying I agree with him, in fact I'm actually looking forward to seeing Robert when he comes to town, just an interesting take from someone who claims they are a fan of our kind of music.

The problem with finding a band willing to suffer along with you for your art is that most musicians want to be paid, at least if they are going to make a commitment like a tour. Should Rich stop touring because he can't afford a band? That would be a shame.

On the other hand, maybe it would be more interesting to just play what you can play live, even if it is not as complex as what you could produce with canned material to back you up. There really is something exciting about watching a skilled musician laying it down on the spot. A great musician can hold your interest for the length of a concert. Classical musicians do it all the time.

MikeS
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: mgriffin on June 04, 2010, 04:29:44 PM
Certainly it seemed strange to me that John Diliberto singled out Robert this way.

On the other hand, I don't think John's argument can really be called "wrong."  He's basically saying it's unfortunate that a lot of musicians tour and give performances that amount to pre-recordings with live elements.  Can you really say you disagree?

I'm sure Robert wishes he could tour with Lisa Moskow or Forrest Fang or whatever group of live musicians helped create a given album, but we all know this simply isn't feasible.  I wish ambient music had a bigger audience, obviously, but since it doesn't, musicians either perform in a way that makes sense, or they don't perform at all.

I've performed live a handful of times as part of Viridian Sun, and twice with Dave Fulton in Philadelphia (and also, I guess, with Dave Fulton and Jeff Pearce together, briefly, at the same concert and radio shows), but never alone.  I haven't performed alone onstage because I feel it would be pointless. It wouldn't be the kind of show I would enjoy seeing so I'm not motivated to do it, even though I've been asked several times.  Not to say I'll never do it.  I'll reserve the right to change my mind, but at this point, firing up Ableton Live and live-mixing a number of loops doesn't seem compelling to me as a sound artist, or to a hypothetical audience of listeners.

I've seen performances of one guy on a stage with a bunch of electronic gear, and sometimes it's compelling.  More often it's not.  Saul Stokes has done some great shows, and it helps that he brings along some really cool, weird-looking home made electronic gear, and that he tweaks synths and sequences with his hands, in real time, visible onstage.  There are lots of cool lights and spinning rings of blue LEDs, and a weird aluminum controller Saul built that looks like a weird, robotic oboe. 

I've seen shows like what Diliberto described, a guy running tapes (or digital files, or CDRs) while he stood up and basically waved his hands around, and added little live "accents" over the top.  In other words 90% of what you were hearing was pre-recorded, and if the guy gave the same performances to ten crowds in ten nights, they'd all hear pretty much the same thing.  I understand why these guys performed that way, I mean their reasons make sense to me.   I probably had more fun meeting these guys after the show and chatting, though, than watching the performance.  It was just a guy standing on a stage, mostly still, while a bunch of studio-based recordings unfolded.

What's more, I have an awful, behind-the-curtain ambient music secret to reveal.  I've been to performances like this, accompanied by other ambient music-makers, musicians, label-owners, DJs or whatever, and heard my fellow audience members complain and criticize more harshly than anything Diliberto said in that article, about the entertainment value of pre-recorded stage shows.  I've been to enough shows like this, accompanied by enough different music folks, that I doubt anybody will know which shows I'm talking about, but yes -- even those of us who understand how difficult it is to perform this kind of music live, might go to a show of this kind, and on the way out, mutter something about "What did I experience here, other than meeting the guy, that was different from just listening to the CD at home?"

I really do see both sides of it.  I don't blame ambient artists with a higher profile than myself for saying "I can play a couple dozen shows per year, make some money, spread the word about my work, and shake hands and take pictures with the fans.  On the road, I can meet some DJs and reviewers and fellow musicians and have a good time.  Why not?"   Even if they know the stage show isn't quite, you know, Queen Live Killers or something.

I also have a hard time feeling the artists are putting one over on the audience.  I mean, when the audience shows up, they MUST know what kind of thing they're going to see.  If you're going to see Robert Rich, unless it was one of those solo piano shows he did briefly, you KNOW he's not going to perform everything live in real time. 

Having said as much forgiving, understanding stuff as I can, I still think sometimes artists take a shortcut and rely too much on invariable, pre-fab recorded elements.  To me there's a huge difference between improvising stuff on a laptop in a way that not only isn't prefab but couldn't be repeated twice even if you wanted to (such as my last two live shows, one with Viridian Sun, and the show with Fulton in Philly), and standing up with a bunch of tapes or CDRs or digital files spinning.  The audience may not even know the difference, unless they're savvy about what's happening, where the sounds are coming from. 
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: mgriffin on June 04, 2010, 04:39:53 PM
One thing I meant to finish up with is that I've seen Robert perform and I always get a sense of integrity and respect for the audience from Robert.  That's the one aspect of the John Diliberto article that bugged me.  He seemed to imply that Robert exemplified, somehow, performing artists who short-change their audience.  Frankly I think it's bizarre to choose Robert Rich to make that point, especially since I know John has met Robert numerous times.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Numina on June 04, 2010, 05:35:38 PM
Well said Mike!
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: MarkM on June 04, 2010, 06:55:33 PM
QuoteIt was just a guy standing on a stage, mostly still, while a bunch of studio-based recordings unfolded.

I've seen solo pianists just sitting on a bench not moving anything but their hands (which are not always visible.) However, I don't think one has to be a Liberace to entertain an audience.

The nature of many genres of electronic music is repetition via automation. What's the difference between an arp, step sequencer, sequencer, loop-building, pre-recorded loops, or an iPod?  It's all hands-free music (with an occasional tweak, sometimes.)  Does Dilberto also include Tangerine Dream in his criticism because of their automation?

I think what sets Klaus Shulze apart from a talented top-notch laptop performer is mostly stage presence and name recognition.

As technology advances and new and innovative user interfaces are introduced, both performer and reviewer have to get with the times. There has to be something more than just music coming from the stage; be it emotions evoked by body and facial expressions, dancing girls, colorful blinking lights, mind-bending video projections, odd and oversized glasses, playing the keyboard with your feet, etc.

On second thought, perhaps Liberace was right.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: judd stephens on June 04, 2010, 11:07:41 PM
Robert Rich himself acknowledged this and said how he tries to distinguish himself from the guy with the laptop on stage who "might as well be checking his e-mail".  For a one-man act, Robert couldn't be doing much more between the flute playing, the lap steel, and all the 'tweeking' of knobs from one synth to the next.  There was a laptop, but he rarely was there longer than a few seconds, often leaning toward it while his other hand was on another module. 

Sure, a percussionist live to play along with Rich would've been really cool, but the ticket price probably goes up, and so on.  Maybe if all the gigs he played were bigger, like 50-100 people, then you'd have the 'economy of scale' to still charge less.  Or, occasionally do a smaller venue like Santa Fe, if you can still fill some seats in the bigger cities.  How's about a college musician student who takes some time and learns Robert's sets, could accompany him during the summer, sort of an "ambient apprentice"?  Maybe there are other ways to get a supplemental musician in with him who has little stake in making money on the tour, like a retiree who's in it for fun-   :-\  I don't know.

I can see at least a percussionist with Robert being pretty neat, but for what it's worth, it was pretty cool and I'd do it again and Robert was no slouch when it comes to the creativity and improvisational impulses.  He definitely veered from the 'playlist' that his wife Dixie had shown, improving and adding here, subtracting there- also he said at the beginning he wasn't sure where he was going to go, but let the inspiration take him and it might be a "couple hours" or so, to which there was a gentle round of cheers and applause...

One cool little tidbit at the beginning as he was speaking into the mike was a few seconds into his address to the audience, I noticed some warped, distorted and low-key background voices.  It sounded like a swampy, muffled conversation you might here in an ambient song.  Soon after it dawned on me that it was Robert's own voice delayed by a few seconds, through some kind of filter to make it sound 'dreamlike'.  That part was particularly neat, and it assured that the music we were about to hear was going to be deep and technically cool stuff. 

Oh, and here are some turntable/laptop wizards who have made their act interesting (for their fans at least).  No this isn't a deleted scene from Logan's Run  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pujy2kVECZk&feature=related
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on June 05, 2010, 05:59:13 AM
Quote from: Christopher Short on June 04, 2010, 03:53:33 PM
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. 
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: atomicskunk 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 :)
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: 9dragons 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...

Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: ffcal 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
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: judd stephens on June 05, 2010, 06:19:40 PM
Quote from: 9dragons on June 05, 2010, 12:55:36 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).
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: LNerell on June 05, 2010, 07:38:39 PM
Quote from: ffcal on June 05, 2010, 12:59:13 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.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: drone on 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."
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: ffcal on June 06, 2010, 11:54:23 AM
Quote from: LNerell on June 05, 2010, 07:38:39 PM
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
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le) on June 06, 2010, 12:39:26 PM
Quote from: drone on 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.

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
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: 9dragons 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.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: LNerell on June 07, 2010, 11:22:30 AM
Quote from: ffcal on June 06, 2010, 11:54:23 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.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: MarkM 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.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: judd stephens on June 08, 2010, 08:32:33 PM
Quote from: MarkM on June 08, 2010, 08:15:42 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...
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le) on June 08, 2010, 08:40:25 PM
That almost made me spit tea all over my laptop...that was funny Judd!
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: judd stephens on June 08, 2010, 09:10:47 PM
Don't worry Paul, you won't be needing it... :P ;D
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: MPECK on June 08, 2010, 09:44:01 PM
Quotea 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.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: vidnaObmana 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  ;)




Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: michael sandler on June 11, 2010, 07:49:13 PM
Quote from: vidnaObmana 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.
...

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)...
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Chad Kettering 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....







Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: sraymar 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
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: doombient on June 20, 2010, 03:22:51 AM
Quote from: vidnaObmana on June 11, 2010, 03:54:26 AM

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 attended and enjoyed some of these shows back then, and I never thought this was just mimicking a concert, based on some pre-recorded stuff because there was a lot going on which was absolutely live and attention-grabbing.

Stephen 
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: mgriffin on June 22, 2010, 11:04:39 AM
Anybody here attending the Portland show at Clinton Street Theater this coming Thursday?
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: mgriffin on June 24, 2010, 11:22:07 AM
No responses, but I just wanted to remind anyone in the Portland area who may be considering checking out Robert Rich... the show's tonight at Clinton Street Theater, door opens at 8, show starts at 9.

I just spoke to Robert and he indicated the posters say the show will start earlier than that, so it's possible he'll start playing early.  Also the posters say the price is $15, and that's just the advance price.  Tickets at the door will be $20.  Come on out and support Robert if you can! 

I know I'm looking forward to being there.  Lena has a bad cold, but will come along if she can, and I think Dave Fulton will be there too.  If anybody from here on the forum sees us, come up and say "hi."
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Scott M2 on June 24, 2010, 11:57:17 AM
I had this impression there was quite a batch of ambienteers in Portland (and on this forum). 

Anyway - everyone in the Toronto audience for the 1st show of the tour
seemed very happy with the performance. Some were ecstatic!
(and it was $25 at the door.)
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: mgriffin on June 24, 2010, 12:22:47 PM
There are quite a lot of ambient-folk here in Portland, and I expect to see some of them there.  I know of at least one Hypnos artist who has to work tonight, and another who won't attend for health reasons.  It's also possible Lena may not make it as she's fighting the same gruesome cold I'm just getting over.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: lena on June 24, 2010, 03:42:31 PM
Nooooooooo, I'm going! I'm going!

(I don't care if I have to take the entire frakkin' package of Sudafed, I'm GOING!)
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: drone on on June 24, 2010, 07:13:10 PM
I like Vidna's comments about Diliberto, this is my assessment as well.  Back in 1999 I wrote a "complaint letter" to Tower Pulse (Tower's free magazine) about Diliberto's reviews, wherein he had stopped reviewing space music and incessantly talked about/reviewed Lisa Gerrard.  She's great, of course, but his review column was turning into the Lisa Gerrard shrine. Anyways, to me he was never what I would call a "hardcore" supporter of E-music and his reviews were always somewhat geared toward the "consumer" instead of the "fan."  A much better music critic was Linda Kohanov, who used to write for Pulse.  Her reviews usually got at the heart of the music in an intuitive way.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: doombient on June 25, 2010, 01:54:19 AM
Quote from: drone on on June 24, 2010, 07:13:10 PM

A much better music critic was Linda Kohanov, who used to write for Pulse.  Her reviews usually got at the heart of the music in an intuitive way.


I guess that´s why Steve married her :). On a more serious note, I´ve always had the impression that the whole Echoes thing was a bit elitist and snobbish, like a club you are allowed to join... or not. I´ve had enough of that sort of thing over here in Germany, no need for me to be bothered by something similar on the other side of the Big Pond.

At some point I stopped sending promos to Mr. D. as he wouldn´t care anyway.

Stephen
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: LNerell on June 25, 2010, 09:29:24 AM
If you haven't read the comments on John's blog take a look. I wrote that I noticed he is broadcasting Robert Rich's Echos session that he mentioned in his article. I then said perhaps in honor of this he should change the name of his show to "Echos Minus One." ;D

John wrote back saying he saw the irony and also mentioned he saw the thread going on here.

On a more positive note about Echo's if you get their podcast they just released a retrospective on Robert that is pretty good. Its a free download you can get it in the iTunes store, worth a listen.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: mgriffin on June 25, 2010, 10:24:30 AM
I'm not going to go so far as to trash John Diliberto just because Echoes focuses on more melodic and "musical" material than most ambient.  I mean, look at the emphasis on Enya, Dead Can Dance, R. Carlos Nakai, and Loreena McKennitt on his playlists over the years.  Certainly more of that kind of material than the sounds we discuss here.  It's a bit like being pissed off that American Idol doesn't have enough ambient music on it.  It's a fairly different focus that only occasionally crosses over into ambient territory.

At times, Echoes has been quite supportive of artists like Robert Rich, Jeff Pearce, and a few others we'd claim as our own.  On the other hand, when we mail a Hypnos promo CD to Echoes, or Hearts of Space radio for that matter, we realize that if it's not on the melodic, structured, "conventionally musical" side of things, it probably isn't going to get played.

We had a great time at Robert's show last night, by the way.  I imagine Robert would have preferred a larger crowd, but it wasn't too small, and I had the sense everyone really enjoyed it.  Robert's good about chatting with people before and after the show, and it seemed that a lot of people in the audience knew each other.  I expected several individuals to be there who didn't or couldn't make it for one reason or another, but we saw Phil Derby (the Electroambient Space reviewer/blogger) and Howard Givens of Spotted Peccary, along with various other familiar faces.  Lena overcame her cold and was able to come along, and really enjoyed it.

As to the big debate about prerecorded materials, Robert's performance came off about as I would have expected.  Undeniably there are prerecorded elements, but to me it never felt like miming or karaoke.  A sufficient amount of what the audience heard was performed live, and Robert always kept busy, not only playing various instruments but also tweaking the mix and his modular synth along the way.  It helps that the lights and video display were interesting and complemented the music, and also that the sound quality of the performance was very good.

I would definitely recommend seeing Robert live to anybody who has a chance, on this tour's last stop in Seattle, or on subsequent tours. 
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: mgriffin on June 25, 2010, 10:29:50 AM
Quote from: LNerell on June 25, 2010, 09:29:24 AM
If you haven't read the comments on John's blog take a look. I wrote that I noticed he is broadcasting Robert Rich's Echos session that he mentioned in his article. I then said perhaps in honor of this he should change the name of his show to "Echos Minus One." ;D

John wrote back saying he saw the irony and also mentioned he saw the thread going on here.

On a more positive note about Echo's if you get their podcast they just released a retrospective on Robert that is pretty good. Its a free download you can get it in the iTunes store, worth a listen.


I have no doubt John considers himself a supporter of Robert's music, even at the same time he's holding up Robert as an example of shortchanging the audience with karaoke style live performances.  Echoes always seems to do Living Room Concerts with Robert, interview him, feature his music, and even did a "top recommended Robert Rich albums" thing on their blog -- no Hypnos RR releases on the list, though, so it was obviously misguided and ill-informed.  ;)

Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: lena on June 25, 2010, 11:01:24 AM
Loved, loved, LOVED the show! It was an amazing experience getting to watch a real pro at work, and Robert & his wife are SUCH nice people, I'm so thrilled I got to meet them! I was also really happy to see Phil there, and to meet Howard Givens! I took a few pics, (I'm no photographer, plus my camera isn't the latest & greatest in modern technology), but here they are, anyway!

(http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x107/hypnosgrl/new%20stuff/IMG_4917.jpg)

(http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x107/hypnosgrl/new%20stuff/IMG_4914.jpg)

(http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x107/hypnosgrl/new%20stuff/IMG_4922.jpg)

(http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x107/hypnosgrl/new%20stuff/IMG_4913.jpg)


And this one is my personal fave:

(http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x107/hypnosgrl/new%20stuff/IMG_4912.jpg)



Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: APK on June 25, 2010, 11:03:56 AM
Hey, in that last one he looks like he's just fallen asleep in front of his laptop ;)
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: lena on June 25, 2010, 11:42:52 AM
Ha ha!  Nope, just heavily focused on that lap steel!  ;D
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le) on June 25, 2010, 08:02:33 PM
There is nothing I hate more than watching some musician sit in front of his lap-steel looking like he is checking his e-mail, its just plain...oh, wait a minute...


...never mind!  ;D
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: judd stephens on June 25, 2010, 08:37:44 PM
 ;D

Robert informed me that he's often playing Tetris when we think he's checking his mail....which goes to show you, there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye, folks.
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: ffcal on June 25, 2010, 10:41:05 PM
Quote from: judd stephens on June 25, 2010, 08:37:44 PM
;D

Robert informed me that he's often playing Tetris when we think he's checking his mail....which goes to show you, there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye, folks.

And I thought Robert was just getting an update on World Cup scores...

Nice to hear the show went well.

Forrest
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: 9dragons on June 26, 2010, 12:09:39 AM
I am looking forward extremely to Mr. Rich's performance here in Seattle...any other forumites showing up here?
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: doombient on June 26, 2010, 01:58:10 AM
Quote from: judd stephens on June 25, 2010, 08:37:44 PM
;D

Robert informed me that he's often playing Tetris when we think he's checking his mail....which goes to show you, there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye, folks.

This would explain where many of the sounds I´ve always marvelled at come from...

Stephen
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: TestZero on June 28, 2010, 05:37:14 PM
Having attended ambient/EM concerts in and around the L.A. area since the 90's and having a wife who plays ambient/EM music (Lucette Bourdin) it seems to me that the expectations of a concert depends somewhat on temperament. Our culture values action, the more visible the better, and is basically extroverted in its expectations and most things internal are deemed 'unreal' or not 'real work'. Yet we are changed, as a culture, a great deal by those inward seeking individuals, the introverts, like Jung, Einstein, Ingmar Bergman, etc. For myself the contrast and compare I have read in this thread seems pretty much the same (outside of musicianship). A great deal of EM is not intended for extroverted viewing but for inward quiet and so, for me, regardless of the laptop or synths or patches or amount of reverb my criterion is how deep or how 'out' (in space) did the artist take me. Sometimes the CD version does it better and sometimes the artist is inspired and the live concert exceeds all expectations in depth and height. Being an introvert I just don't go for a 'show' and that suits me; an extrovert may have different expectations. There is no one size fits all.

Cheers,
TZ
Title: Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
Post by: GregRausch on July 04, 2014, 09:48:53 PM
Quote from: MPECK on June 08, 2010, 09:44:01 PM
Quotea fellow sitting next to his laptop smoking ecigs (http://www.ecigfiend.com/) 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.
I am not sure it was the beta version.. Even I have tried but not worked at all..Still not able to find out..