Robert Rich – Inner Landscapes

This release captures ambient space music improvisations from a 1985 concert by Robert Rich. The eight tracks showcase a variety of ambient environments that explore different moods and sound, while also blending together into a 73 minute soundworld.

Inner Landscapes was recorded live at one of Rich’s long improvised concerts. This concert was about three-hours long, but others have run much longer.

The music highlights Rich’s skill as an improviser. However, don’t expect any be-bop licks. Rich improvises on a variety of instruments, and his programming and playing is tailored to his style of music. Over the course of the album, Rich plays bamboo flutes, steel guitar, a custom modular synthesizer, and Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 and Six Trak synthesizers.

Though he uses a variety of electronic and acoustic instruments, the way he plays and the way he treats the sounds with reverberation tend to extend and blend the sounds, lending them an otherworldly quality, and making them less identifiable.

The music begins with what sounds like insect noises. These chirping noises continue throughout the various sections, so that they fade into the background, but still help tie the pieces together. The insect noises and the dark textures that Rich uses create alien landscapes, much like Eno’s Ambient 4: On Land.

Rich’s reverb-drenched flute is also reminiscent of some of Paul Horn’s work. The pieces that feature his flute playing create some of the more intense sections of the music. The flute sounds, combined with the deep reverberation, resonate so that the sound evolves and grows. Rich makes the flute emerge from nothing and grow to be loud, so that the flute sound seems to surround you.

This album is a treat for fans of space music and dark ambient music. It’s beautiful and haunting, and can be listened to with many different levels of attention. It gives one a taste of what one of Rich’s long concerts is like, but doesn’t betray itself as being a live performance.

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