128

Robert Rich: Sunyata

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
In the field of ambient music there’s no one quite like Robert Rich. For 20 years now, he’s been bringing his nocturnal, eerie vision to the world through electronic music designed to alter consciousness, even when the listeners are asleep. Sunyata is a re-mastering of recordings made by Rich in 1981, when he was first experimenting with his “sleep concerts” at Stanford University, where he was then a student. Recently, Rich has been re-releasing his live concert performances from the past 20 years, such as the three-CD set released last year as Humidity. There is a strong continuity of sound; Rich’s way was already recognizable at the very beginning. This Hypnos recording features two of the three pieces that were on the original ninety-minute cassette tape from 1981, including a 43-minute sound-stretch from a live performance, called “Oak Spirits.” The title track, “Sunyata,” which wouldn’t fit on the CD, was re-released on the “Extreme” label in 1994 among a Rich set called Trances/Drones.

The music is a layered, steady mixture of electronic drones and microtonal chords which occasionally drift through a moment of conventional tonality. These cloudlike, continuous tones are mixed with environmental sounds like the rustling of leaves and dripping water. It is meant to be played softly, and if the listener nods off, that’s fine with Rich. Ideas of structure, rhythm, and harmony do not apply here in the traditional sense; this is more like a dream than a musical composition. Sometimes it is a disturbing dream, attended by whining sirens and whirling winds; other times, the sounds evoke a strange and desolate landscape of emptiness (“Sunyata” means “void” in Buddhist terminology) and mystery. If you are willing to take a journey to such a surrealistic environment, and wish to voyage there using sound as your vehicle, this is the way to go. But I wouldn’t recommend playing this album when you are trying to work or concentrate in the waking world of daylight.

| Record Label: Hypnos Recordings | Style: Ambient


Shop

More Articles

Read A Dark and Stormy Day CD/LP/Track Review A Dark and Stormy Day
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Pocono Git-Down CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Rímur CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Schönbrunn CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground
by James Nadal
Published: April 8, 2016
Read "Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen" CD/LP/Track Review Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Fellow Creatures" CD/LP/Track Review Fellow Creatures
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 25, 2016
Read "The Eleventet - Please Call" CD/LP/Track Review The Eleventet - Please Call
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Lionsong" CD/LP/Track Review Lionsong
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau" CD/LP/Track Review Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 16, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!