Robert Rich - flutes, lap steel , piano, percussion, MOTM modular & synths
Ricky Carter - drums |
- Ambergris [4:14]
- Translucent [4:59]
- Attar [6:38]
- Verbena [5:03]
- Kalyani [8:09]
- Vetiver [6:25]
- Tamarack [5:38]
- Charukesi [7:11]
- First Rain [4:59]
Sakthivel Muruganandhan - mrdungam
Sunilkumar Sankarapillai - bansuri
Haroun Serang - guitar
Emily Bezar - voice
Forrest Fang - violin
Hans Christian - cello
Paul Olguin - upright bass
Robert Rich's first solo studio album in almost three years, now available. The title comes from ylang ylang, a flowering tree that grows in South Asia, with a mysterious fragrance that embodies elements of shadow and light, eros and gnosis, earth and sky. Ylang pushes the boundaries of Robert's melodic world-fusion vocabulary, such as on Seven Veils or Propagation. Ylang blends Rich's expressive steel guitar, shimmering organic electronics and yearning flute melodies with influences as diverse as south Indian Karnatic music, pulsing minimalism and pensive jazz; while its deconstructed drums and blurry guitar feedback might feel at home with Sigur Ros or Bark Psychosis. Rich enlists help for this undertaking from a circle of trusted musician friends. The rhythmic scaffolding for the album comes from two very different drummers. Ricky Carter adds his intelligent sparse drumming, fluid with syncopation but complex in meter. These rhythms could be a slow tempo homage to Jaki Leibzeit from Can. Post-processing transforms them into rubbery chuffing abstractions. The other rhythmic foundation comes from the Karnatic mrdungam playing of Sakthivel Muruganandhan, which also wanders into Rich's sonic blender, shifting from time- stretched blurs into organic live duets with bansuri master Sunilkumar Sankarapillai. Lilting in and out of this heady atmosphere of South Indian music and minimalist space jazz, the wordless voice of art-pop virtuoso Emily Bezar adds a feminine intelligence to several pieces, and subtle melodic guitar additions from Haroun Serang augment Rich's soaring lap steel feedback. With acoustic bass from Paul Olguin and string additions from Forrest Fang and Hans Christian, the sonic texture warms to a glowing woody earthiness. Rich's audiophile production and delicate sound design glue the textures together into a seductive and inviting mossy nest. From these disparate elements, Ylang forms a sonic entity unto itself.
2010. Press Information
To make it clear, reviewing Robert Rich is a quite big honor for me, because it was his legendary "Trances/Drones" 2CD that was a turning point for me around 1995 during my musical explorations. Maestro Robert Rich returned with "Ylang" in February of 2010, so almost three years passed since his previous solo album "Illumination", but in the meantime few co-works with Markus Reuter, Ian Boddy and Faryus were released. With "Ylang" Robert delivers some of the most exotic perfumes as he did on masterworks like "Propagation" or especially "Seven Veils".
Teamed with no less than 8 other virtuosos on drums (Ricky Carter), mrdungam-percussion instrument from India (Sakthivel Muruganandhan), bansuri (Sunilkumar Sankarapillai), guitar (Haroun Serang), voice (Emily Bezar), violin (Forrest Fang), cello (Hans Christian), upright bass (Paul Olguin)... plus some parrots, Robert Rich exlores another absolutely exciting and exotic territories by melting to gether various ingredients like ambient, jazz, world music (Carnatic music of India), post rock with his trademarking sounds of flute, lap steel guitar, percussions, piano and electronics. Maybe the Middle East flavour is not that strong as it was presented on "Seven Veils", but the music still sounds very fresh, unique and essential. Each contribution is carefully crafted and detailed, very evocative, expressive and colorful too due to appearing guests. Nine rhythm-charged oriental compositions offer spectacular experience for any world fusion/ambient fan. I think it's impossible to point the most notable pieces here, because each contribution is very impressive and ear catching and even if very varied and rich, the overall mood is very complex.
Robert Rich is a sonic innovator always searching for new challenges in his music and "Ylang" is again loaded with filigree musicianship. All wrapped in beautiful 6-panel digipak (designed by John Bergin) with audiophile-quality sound, "Ylang" is a true piece of art for me!!! Big thanks to all involved!!!
2011. Richard Gürtler / Bratislava, Slovakia
Robert Rich gained renown for his "sleep concerts" back in his college days and his deep catalog since has been diverse and filled with exotic delights. His new one YLANG, is my favorite album of his, which is saying something.
The compositions are exotic and worldly, while the ebb and flow of rhythmic synthetics, exotic percussives and sonic embellishments fill out the musical spaces between of the various themes beautifully.
Cerebral and magical, you will find yourself listening again and again many times over.
Eastern influenced ambient and melodic groove. This deep, lush album has a magical oriental flavor to it; heady, beguiling and full of sonic color. Languid beats that combine the soft, dreamy pads of southern India's mrdungam played by Sakthivel Muruganandhan with the restrained drum style of Ricky Carter propel the compositions at an hypnotically leisurely pace. Rich flute lines thicken the air - sensual, introspective melodies that seem to curl and unfurl like morning mists. Rich's distinctive lap steel guitar can be heard in places - an organic strain drifting among the subtle electronic beds. Bird sounds enhance the exotic nature of the music - gentle parrot squeaks and calls that juxtapose the breathy voice of Emily Bezar wordlessly wafting among the instrumentals. Sparse piano touches and lustrous chimes twinkle in places whilst violins and cellos introduce a stirring grace; the concluding First Rain luxuriating in the combined strings of Forrest Fang and Paul Olguin.
Ylang is an attractive digipak presentation - three matt card fold-outs with disc held centrally. The artwork comprises a series of photographs of beautifully crafted natural sculptures: twined twigs and mosses with leaves overlaid and flower blossoms. These arrangements are mostly laid out on white backgrounds, warmly lit and unobstructed by text. The only information is delivered on the rear cover: track titles with associated times, a brief paragraph on the inspiration for the music, collaborating musician credits and gear list.
Ylang is the first solo studio album from Robert Rich in three years. Having said that, the list of contributing musicians is impressive: Ricky Carter: drums; Sakthivel Muruganandhan: mrdungam; Sunilkumar Sankarapillai: bansuri; Haroun Serang: guitar; Emily Bezar: voice; Forrest Fang: violin; Hans Christian: cello; Paul Olguin: upright bass - not forgetting the parrots. Rich himself plays flutes, lap steel, piano, percussion, MOTM modular & synths. The nine tracks here feel saturated in earthy tranquillity, luxurious and blissful. It's hard to convey the level of beauty and feeling inherent in this music - you really need to hear the album for your self you'll likely be delighted.
A tree from the Philippines, Ylang-Ylang produces an essential oil used essentially for perfumes. It’s also the title of Robert Rich's 1st solo since Illumination (2007). This last opus of the American multi - instrumentalism is also perfumed of an equatorial and tropical smell with a multiethnic clan approach where fragrances of a world as Amerindian as Asian border a dreamlike approach very near the Tibetans and Buddhism’s spiritualities. With Ylang, Robert Rich proposes a cerebral journey in the heart of the South-East Asia forests on tribal structures of an unrecognized and charming world, where aboriginal tribal percussions shape of enigmatic lascivious and latent rhythms on breaths of an omnipresent flute and of angelic vocals.
A fine rain, delicate arpeggios of a forgotten piano and a solitary flute introduce Ambergris first chords. The tempo falls. Weary, it bends its spine in front of a spectral guitar and a tearful synth strata which encircle this musical firmament from where escapes multitude of notes on lascivious percussions, molding a mi sensual and mi ghostly middle rhythm, quite as on Tamarack, although this last one is more accessible and mesmerizing with its Lap Steel Guitar whose waves float such of wandering specters. The rhythms on Ylang are very subtle. Ultimately we could think that the album is more atonal than cadenced, except that tempos are always present and draw very ambivalent rhythmic architecture.
Translucent and Verbena are perfect examples. The tempo is shaping out of strange Amerindian tribal incantations and is always latent. Without ever exploding or progressing excessively, they soak in a rich sound atmosphere and are of use as assizes to very poetic and dreamlike musical structures where hands percussions, flutes, ethereal voices and synth to slightly nervous layers dress a heterogeneous and spiritual musical world. On Ylang Robert Rich renew with fragrance of his fluty musical world. The flute is the key element of Attar and Kalyani intros where slamming percussions and jazzy bass draw a slow morphic tempo. Two beautiful enigmatic music pieces because of their crossings between a Tibetan mystic world which go alongside a slow and sensual jazz structure, they waddle languishingly on good aboriginal percussions and a sound flora very rich in tribe variations.
Vetiver is the title that gets the closer to Robert Rich's desert universe (as well as Tamarack). Rich percussions to deviants’ structures and hybrid striking, Vetiver revolves in an arid world. A great track which takes all its dimension and impact with a good pair of earphones.
With its progressive tempo, which shakes itself under a flute to Amerindian scents, Charukesi looks like a slow Indian procession. A track without precise rhythm which draws its energy via Robert Rich's frenzied flute. Languishing, plaintive and melancholic, First Rain encloses this soft tribal musical epic with violins orchestrations that melt indifference. Still there, the rhythm is indecisive, navigating on a xylophoned sea and rich violin strata which encircle a discreet plaintive synth and notes of a solitary piano.
Ylang is as much beautiful as the unknown can be appealing. Towards its 9 tracks, Robert Rich succeeds in weaving a musical structure of a surprising beauty. But as an obscure beauty from the jungle, Ylang needs to be tame. Because if titles as Ambergris, Vetiver and Tamarack will join the delights of Rich fans, the other ones need for a rediscovery of the surprising musical universe, always very rich, from Robert Rich.
Me I liked discovering these strange and bewitching rhythms, which don't know if they dance or if they sink, in an eclectic, poetic and often dreamlike sound universe which is the fruit of Robert Rich's fertile imagination.
2010. Sylvain Lupari / Guts Of Darkness
The ylang ylang is a flowering tree from South Asia, and it provides the name for Robert Rich's latest album, Ylang. Appropriately Robert Rich goes back to some of his roots but also expands them into new branches. You can hear many of Rich's influences including psychedelic rock, German space music, Brian Eno ambiences and global trances. He got into electronic music on the heels of minimalism and especially the looping cycles of Terry Riley. That element emerges on Ylang as well as that of post-minimalist and Fourth World music creator Jon Hassell. The album abounds with murky, trancey percussion grooves and long undulating melodies that owe a debt to Hassell.
In many ways, Ylang picks up on the intoxicating melodies and rhythms of his 1990s albums, Propagation and Seven Veils. You can hear the sinewy flute melodies, the throbbing hand drum rhythms, and one of Rich's signature sounds, the lap steel guitar. He doesn't play the lap steel with aloha Hawaiian sweetness or country and western twang. Instead, it's a siren cry, like Jimi Hendrix sent into infinite sustain on tracks like "Ambergris."
With his electronic processing and analog synthesizers, Robert Rich can forge the darkest, most sonically warped sounds around, but there is a melodicist lurking in this experimenter. He lets it out on Ylang whether it's the smoke-like flute undulations of "Translucent" or the Keith Jarrett-inspired piano of "Attar."
Ylang, like most Robert Rich albums, trawls the dark side like a midnight stalker. The rhythms are often foreboding and the melodies seem to come from a dark tribal rite, as alien insects, created electronically by Rich, scutter through the sound field. But Robert Rich also has a touch of exotica. Think Les Baxter getting his Ph.D. and spinning through a time warp of 30 years of technology and world music knowledge. That exotica provides a key to Robert Rich's surreal orchestrations that sound like ancient ritual music from another planet.
2010. John Diliberto
This release from 2010 offers 53 minutes of cerebrally gregarious electronic music.
Rich plays flutes, lap steel guitar, percussion, MOTM modular, synthesizers, shimmer and glurp. He is accompanied on tracks by: Ricky Carter (on drums), Sakthivel Muruganandhan (on mrdungam), Sunilkumar Sankarapillai (on bansuri), Haroun Serand (on guitar), Emily Bezar (on voice), Forrest Fang (on violin), Hans Christian (on cello), Paul Olguin (on upright bass), and Andy Wiske's parrots.
The Ylang Ylang is a flowering tree that grows in South Asia.
A decidedly organic temperament is prevalent in this music, as Rich weaves traditional and ethnic instruments with his own brand of ethereal electronics, not to mention his radiant flutes and eerie guitar sustains.
The electronics are delicate and moody, with atmospherics that are damp and fertile. Textures establish luxurious backdrops for the rest of the versatile instrumentation. Keyboards provide a hint of gentle jazz amid the vaporous flow.
The flutes generate a haunting air that buoys everything to a transcendental level. And yet there are instances in which the flutes achieve a frivolity that coaxes a congenial gratification in the listener.
The celestial resonance of lap steel guitar generates shimmering strata of sonic beauty with their ghostly sustains.
Percussion plays a vital role in this music, providing a moderate propulsion that remains comfortably languid.
The other instruments nicely flesh out the tuneage's pacific nature. The violin and cello add classical but suitably eccentric touches. Female crooning injects a human presence. The upright bass contributes a moody thump lurking in the mix.
These compositions retain a breezy disposition despite their intellectual undercurrents. Rich has a masterful way of making esoteric melodies achieve an accessible appeal.
His first solo studio album in three years, Ylang offers an intellectually stimulating selection of tuneage that will satisfy his longtime fans and delight newcomers as well.
Matt Howarth / Sonic Curiosity
After several collaborative albums, Robert Rich returns with the sonic perfume project entitled "Ylang", a rather complex album which sees him blend "languid polyrhythms with infusions of South Indian Karnatic music, post-ock, jazz and minimalisms". But most of all, the organic flavored outcome of "Ylang" is one that clearly holds the trademark of Robert Rich, certainly when one hears the soaring and soft yearning tones of his lap steel guitar and flute.
Accompanied by a range of talented musicians, Robert subtle and detailed sound design guides us through a wonderful sonic world of evocative melodic world-fusion music with a nice rhythmic feel. It all makes "Ylang" a spacious and transparent work of art, as its borders both world and electronic music while staying true to its own sonic entity.
This said, I trust fans of his "Propagation" and "Seven Veils" albums will be much pleased by the genuine and honest character found in Rich's audiophile production "Ylang".
2010. Bert Strolenberg / Sonic Immersion