Robert Rich – Calling Down the Sky

Robert Rich’s latest CD, Calling Down the Sky, captures a 2003 concert performance. The CD documents a “house concert” Rich performed in Denver, Colorado. Rich performed a show for an intimite audience of 26 while a storm brewed outside. In his liner notes, Rich comments that his music refered directly to the tangible weather, which seemed to be following him as he toured around the United States.

In conversation with Rich, he mentioned that he is fascinated by weather. His journal entries from his 2003 tour make reference to the intense weather he experienced, and the impressions it made on him. This is reflected in the packaging for his CD, which seems to document a shamanic ritual to the sky and its results.

The CD captures 8 improvisations, ranging in length from five minutes to over twenty. Rich varies the instrumentation from track to track, demonstrating his skill and subtlety on guitar, flute, & synths. He also uses sampled or taped environmental sounds. The tracks range from ambient in style to mournful instrumentals. On some of the tracks, it’s clear that Rich is using alternate tunings.

Rich seems less interested in the unpredictability and power of weather, and more in the sense of mystery and awe it can inspire.

Erasing Traces starts the CD off. On this track, Rich solos with electric guitar over synth drones. His guitar work is meditative and has more of an Indian feel to it rather than blues inflections. Rich’s unique approach doesn’t provide many reference points, but Terje Rypdal’s playing comes to mind.

With the next track, Overhead, the focus is on slowly evolving synth textures. Vertigo and Supplication combine nature sounds with shifting synth textures, and muted sequences. Rich closes the CD with one of the most haunting tracks, Recognition. This track again feature Rich’s electric guitar work, which gives the album a sense of return or closure at the end.

The CD as a whole provides a relaxing collection of tracks that make an attractive ambient soundtrack. Rich fills the music with enough detail, variety and tension, though, that the music is rewarding with any level of focus.

Tracks:

  • Erasing Traces 13:17
  • Overhead 5:34
  • Vertigo 21:34
  • Supplication 7:23
  • Borealis 6:01
  • Lost Landmarks 6:25
  • Adrift 4:56
  • Recognition 8:50

Total Time 74:02

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