Robert Rich and Steve Roach – Strata

Two of the masters of ambient music released this ambient space music classic, Strata, in 1991. The CD brings out the best of both of their styles, the ambient soundscapes of Steve Roach, and the murky electro-acoustics of Robert Rich. This is a great collaboration that is equal to anything released by either of the two artists.

The CD falls into the ambient space style, but is unmistakably Rich and Roach. Roach plays a variety of analog and digital synthesizers, sequencers, and samplers, while Rich adds his take on synthesizers and samplers, steel guitar, percussion, and flutes.

Both musicians contribute their fair share of ‘glurp’, which can’t really be explained, but accurately describes some of the ‘submerged’ organic sounds they make.

On Strata, the two ambient space artists create ten tracks. Some sound distinctively like Roach; others more like Rich, and some like a weird blend of their styles. “Iguana” is one of the tracks that mixes their two individual styles especially well. Roach plays the slowly evolving string washes common to many of his albums. Rich contributes synthesizer solo using a non-tempered tuning.

“Magma” and “Persistence of Memory” are ambient soundscapes that reflect more of Roach’s influence. The sounds are a combination of “musical” sounds, like Roach’s string washes, and various noises treated with echoes and reverbs.

“Rememberance” is the closest thing to a tune on the album. On this track, Rich uses steel guitar to create submerged sounds. The tune is short, but melodic in a quiet way.

Strata is great work from both Rich and Roach. Their styles blend well together to create a CD of quiet, reflective ambient music. The CD is paced well, too. There are no tracks that seem out of place, and you can listen to it straight through without feeling jarred by any of the tracks.

Robert Rich and Steve Roach unique styles combine to make Strata a classic album of ambient space music.

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