Robert Carty is a real independent; he works out of Salt Lake City, Utah, far from the trendy centers of experimental music, and does all his own recording, as well as cover artwork and design. He's got more than a dozen albums to his credit, but his music has been hard to find, though it is now in the Backroads catalog and also featured on a California radio program devoted to "new age" music. Internet and the Web have given him more exposure, and it is through the samples on his Website that I first heard his music. It is worth the search: this American independent has produced some fine material in a long catalogue of electronic albums.
In The Living Carty adds nature sounds as a background. I must confess that I am really fond of nature sounds as a background to ambient music, and the jaded will say it's a cliché - but Carty does it tastefully. The Living is a tribute to nature and the natural environment, with five fairly long sections of smooth-flowing ambient tones, just short of melody. He stays with a basic one-to-five-to diminished seventh harmony throughout the entire album, with some modal excursions. This simple harmonic structure derives not from classical music but more from the softer, more contemplative rock experiments of the 60s and 70s. This gives a structural unity to the album though it moves slowly due to being mostly in the same key throughout. Pieces are differentiated from each other more by use of different sound textures than by harmony, key, or rhythm. There isn't much rhythm or percussion to speak of in the album, anyway; this is along the lines of "cool" trance music rather than the "techno" genre.
Yet there is a progression in the pieces, which builds up towards the end as he adds more melodic lines, more accompaniments playing together, and more volume. The last piece, "The Living Universe," is quite intense. In general his choice of electronic sounds in this album are mellifluous and enjoyable, except for one sound which appears in the first and last track, a loud creaking sound which I assume is supposed to be perhaps trees talking or woods swaying. I disliked it; it sounds like a door hinge that needs oiling. The rest of the album, once you have gotten through the creaking door, is a pleasant and even enchanting journey through musical forests.
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