One of a new strain of contemporary sonic architects.
Part musician, part technician, part psychonaut.
Investigator and navigator of dreamspsace; guide through
the ancient Nada-Brahma worlds; gentle, thoughtful being.
His sound is dangerously subtle.
Recommended for mature spacetravelers.
- Stephen Hill [Hearts of Space]
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".
These notes appear on a sticker on
the shrink wrap of Robert Rich’s first cassette release, recorded back in
1982. But, until now Robert has remained virtually unknown to the masses, in
fact I doubt that many people reading this magazine would have heard of him
before reading Gary Scott’s review of his LIVE tape in Audion #5. So, with
this article I aim to rectify this situation with a look into the music and
history of this exceptional musician.
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
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
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
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
‘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...’
from Audion #6 (October 1987), by Alan Freeman
SŪNYATĀ - MC Soundscape SP001 (1982)
LIVE - MC Psychout Productions Psypro 001 (1984), Auricle AMC 021
(1987), 2xCDR Auricle AMC 021 (201?)
TRANCES - MC Soundscape SP002 (1984)
DRONES - MC Soundscape SP003 (1984)
NUMENA - LP Multimood Records MRC 005 (1987)
INNER LANDSCAPES - MC Auricle AMC 029 (1988), 2xCDR Auricle AMC 029
RAINFOREST - CD Hearts Of Space HS11014-2 (1989)
GEOMETRY - CD Spalax 14279 (1991)
original Robert Rich tracks on various artists releases...
DALI: THE ENDLESS ENIGMA - CD Coriolis Records CR-0106 (1990)
ESCAPE FROM THE CAGE VOL 3 -
IMAGES OF INFINITY - MC Auricle AMC 044 (1993), CDR Auricle AMSCDR 009
(2002) track: Live In Vancouver 11/88
Rich articles and reviews in Audion - #4/7, #5/28, #6/4-5, #7/3, #8/22,
#10/7, #12/26, #13/28, #17/12+36, #21/38, #23/33, #24/30, #25/37, #27/4,
#29/34, #31/33, #33/36, #34/5+11, #40/36, #43/4, #44/37, #45/36, #46/35,
#47/35, #48/36, #52/34, #54/38, #55/26