October 1987 A4 32 pages
photocopy reprint (last 7 copies)
Example article extract
"Robert Rich has been giving sleep concerts for several years. These
are all-night concerts performed for sleeping audiences. The music during these
sleep concerts is very quiet, consisting mostly of subtly mixed environmental
sounds and layered electronic textures".
Deciding that the best way to understand a musician is to ask him personally, I sent a few poignant questions to Robert and awaited the results...
What musical training or background do you have?
‘I am self taught musically. I started improvising on piano when about ten years old, started building synths when about thirteen years old. Tried to build systems that would create music beyond my control. Also played in industrial bands, improvised noise, etc.’
Your ideas and techniques?
‘My musical knowledge is based mostly on physics. I think of harmonic theory as a subset of wave mechanics - thus my work for the past few years in just intonation. These days I am getting more interested in more complex musical structures, especially those related to harmonic geometry and the interaction of numbers. I’m composing a lot with very complex polyrhythms - e.g. 5-7-13, and loops that work against each other without repeating. I would like to integrate rhythm, harmony and timbre, demonstrating how they are all different perceptions of the same phenomena - waves moving through time. At the same time I want the music to be compelling - beautiful if you like.’
In asking Robert to describe his music, he sent a piece he wrote a few years back, so I quote.
‘My music works best when I allow myself to disappear. I try not to "make" my music, but rather allow myself to become transparent to the sounds that are taking shape. Music probably began prehistorically as a means of inducing trance during rituals. It is this function in music which I am trying to tap, and my methods of music making must be consistent with these purposes.’
Coming back to the present, Robert had this to add…
‘I don't know how to describe what I am doing these days. I used to say I played trance music. Now most of what I’ve been doing could be called pattern music. I don’t think "new age" applies too well to me, since I have always been a bit too intense and dark for "new-agey" types. Minimalism is not an appropriate label either...’
What about your musical taste, what do you like to listen to?
‘Bach, Mozart, Bartok, Cage (philosophical influence), ethnic musics, real psychedelic and sixties weirdness, old Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, Kluster, Konrad Schnitzler, Popol Vuh (my favourite German band), Throbbing Gristle, Terry Riley (a big influence),.., the list could go on for ever... Briar Eno, Jon Hassell...’
Robert’s methods of music making are actually very complex and multi-fold, and this is what makes his music so compelling, even when some pieces of music last as long as 43 minutes. So let's have a look at his releases...
SUNYATA (Own label) c90 
This is Robert Rich at his dreamiest and most subtle Dervish Dreamtime is appropriately very meditative almost static in composure, the slowly drifting glissando guitar and voice is quite transfixing Sunyata is more typical of his work - environmental sounds accompanied by various flutes and voice. Oak Spirits fuses elements of both the previous piece and evokes a feeling of extreme serenity. Though the sounds are different, I’m often reminded of Walter Carlos’ monumental SONIC SEASONINGS.
TRANCES (Own label) c50 
Such an apt title for a remarkable album. Side 1 Cave Paintings is sure to please anyone that like early Michael Stearns, Steve Roach’s QUIET MUSIC, an Deuter at his most tranquil. This is similar to al these in many respects. It’s amazing how such intense awe-inspiring emotion is created here with such subtle and delicate music, you can actually "feel this music. Side 2 - Hayagriva contrasts with subtle trance inducing glissando drift.
Article by Alan Freeman
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