Robert Rich is one of the pioneers of ambient music. His music draws on elements of dark ambient, tribal and trance music. On over twenty albums, he has created music that always defies easy categorization, but always bears his distinctive mark.
Rich is one of the most creative and inquisitive ambient musicians, and his music reflects his various interests. He makes some of his own acoustic and electronic instruments. He began building his own synthesizers starting in 1976, and he continues to bring a deep knowledge of electronic instruments to his music. His concerts often feature soundscapes generated using a Synthtech MOTM modular synthesizer. He has written several articles about MOTM modules and compatible equipment.
He also has explored microtonal tunings, chaotic systems, and feedback networks. His soundscapes often feature the quirky ambience that Brian Eno’s do, having a relatively static texture that also manages to be continually evolving, and never truly repeating itself.
Rich’s music always has a very organic feel to it, even when it’s purely electronic. He frequently uses acoustical processing to set sounds within a deep reverberant space. He incorporates a variety of unusual acoustic instruments, so acoustic sounds, electronic sounds and processing blend together into music of great depth and complexity.
He has an unusual approach to concerts. His concerts can be very long, including all-night “Sleep Concerts”. He’s played Sleep Concerts for live and radio audiences around the US. His DVD Somnium is a studio release that captures the unique music of his Sleep Concerts. The DVD is seven hours long and, according to Rich, is possibly the longest continuous piece of music ever released.
Other work includes television and film scores, including music for the films Pitch Black and Crazy/Beautiful. He’s lent his unique ear for sounds to preset libraries for the E-mu Proteus and Morpheus sound modules, sample disks, and ACID loop libraries. He’s collaborated with a number of ambient/space music artists, including Steve Roach. He has written software for working in just intonation, and contributed to the MIDI standard for alternate tunings. He also has mastered many albums of ambient and space music.
His earliest recording is Sunyata, released in 1982. The bulk of his recent music has been released by Hearts of Space records. His website has a discography, concert news and several interviews.