"Lithosphere" is the second collaborative release between DiN label boss Ian Boddy & American ambient pioneer Robert Rich. Following on from their debut album "Outpost" the duo once again decided to eschew the false economy of a purely virtual collaboration and convened at Rich‘s Californian Soundscape studio to physically work together over an intense period of 10 days. Following Boddy‘s departure Rich then honed and fine-tuned the arrangements before finalizing the mastering of the project.|
- Threshold [2:07]
- Vent [5:20]
- Chamber [6:29]
- Glass [3:40]
- Subduction [5:34]
- Geode [6:32]
- Stone [3:51]
- Metamorphic [7:25]
- Lithosphere [6:29]
- Melt [5:15]
Whereas "Outpost" was sonically 'out there' and was perceived by many to have it‘s heart in the realms of space music, "Lithosphere" has a more earthy, organic quality. Once again the album is centered around Rich‘s signature lap steel guitar voicing and deep bass rumblings of his analog MOTM modular system.
However Boddy‘s input is unexpected in its direction with astonishing sound design elements intermingling with delicate keyboard textures using high quality sampled glass & stone percussion instruments together with haunting string & woodwind loops.
One of the binding forces for this album was the duos decision to utilize an alternate just intonation tuning. This at times gives the harmonies a piquant flavor whereas at others a glistening quality that just adds to the sonic exotica that Boddy & Rich have concocted on "Lithosphere".
Boddy has always pushed the aspect of collaborations within his DiN catalogue and "Lithosphere" shows the true advantage such a philosophy brings to bear musically on the labels output. The album is a true reflection of the two artists combined efforts and could only have been produced with their joint work ethic.
"Outpost" is one of the most popular DiN albums. There‘s every chance that "Lithosphere" could surpass the high standard that its illustrious predecessor has set.
These two musicians are part of the bedrocks of the UK (Ian) and American (Robert) electronic music scenes, both with over twenty years of experience behind them. And it shows. What we have here is an album which oozes pure class. If anything it is even better than their first superb collaboration 'Outpost'.
Lovely shimmering metallic touches almost sigh from the speakers giving 'Threshold' a rather cosmic feel. Some very deep throbs can just be heard. They are so deep in fact that I didn't notice them at first.
We move into 'Vent' and a quirky percussive bass line strikes up with a haunting lead drifting mist like over the top. This is simply gorgeous- and gets even better as the lead now takes on a stunning hybrid guitar / flute sound which I hadn't heard the likes of before.
'Chamber' becomes somewhat more percussive, the syncopations being delicate but also fascinating and mesmerizing at the same time. The lead line is just as impressive and melancholy as on the previous track.
As we move into 'Glass' things take a much darker and aquatic twist. It is almost as if we are listening to boats and floats banging together as they drift in the wind but all from an under the water perspective. By the half way mark these images have changed as high register blissful drones make a return. Just close your eyes and be uplifted by it. Splashing rhythms come back for 'Subduction' accompanied by slightly eerie, windy, sonic colour. This is so delicate but at the same time stunningly beautiful, in a melancholy sort of way. I couldn't help but be drawn in by it- giving my full attention. Indeed I had to play it three times before I could pull myself away sufficiently to write this.
Rhythms depart in time for us to transcend to 'Geode' and 'Stone'. And it is here that things take a decidedly 'odd' turn. Scraping sounds mix with little high register clicks. It is like some vast insect dragging a heavy object behind it. Bloody weird imagery I know - but the best I could come up with! Things then change as more percussive loops and spectral sighing effects make an entrance. Again it is fascinating stuff that grabs hold of you and demands your full attention. The whole thing is stripped down to just a little percussion then even this disappears and is replaced by more weird dragging / scrapping noises. Probably the strangest moment on the album. These noises disappear to be replaced by more sighing ethereal windy sounds and metallic string effects then grinding noises.
'Metamorphic' signals a return to 'normality', of sorts, as we float once again in the cosmos. It is as if we are in suspended animation. Very gradually however more deep sounds are added to the backing trying to gently shake us out of our sleeping state.
A deep throb starts up in the title track as the engine is engaged then we get quirky percussion once again and stumble to wakefulness. That wonderful mournful half guitar, half flute sound then makes a welcome return lifting the soul out from the body to soar into the heavens. Simply stunning. We are brought back gently to mortal realms on the back of lovely glistening pads in time for 'Melt'. Things slowly become darker and more bass laden before ending with a section of ethereal beauty.
This must be one of the best 'ambient' albums released in 2005 so far.
It will be difficult to find a conventional musical term to adequately describe Lithosphere (52'44") by Robert Rich and Ian Boddy. This intriguing album arises out of soundlab experimentation and delves into an arcane world of tone and mood. The sources and inspiration for this work seems to be foreign as opposed to alien; as if from some corner of the world only recently discovered and comprehended by just a few intrepid explorers.
The perplexing rhythm structure, and its shifting accents, forms a curious energy while unfamiliar harmonies, based on a non-western intonation, precipitates an unsettling atmosphere. Fortunately, amidst the intensity and cold calculations that inundate this album, several access points exist in areas of repose where the listener may reflect in a serene eloquence.
Surfacing when a melody is called for is Rich's steel guitar. It's voice-like timbre snakes and slides through chords and keys and provides yet another level of engagement. For all this album's high concept and high tech theorizing and execution, when the energy level dissipates and the rhythm has wound out, the duo resorts to the sampled sounds of scraping stones to pause any forward motion.
Although Lithosphere is a great collaborative effort, self-referential moments are expected and anticipated. Yet, in this alliance, the signature sounds and voices of one are modified and enhanced by the other - converted into something fascinatingly different from the original, yet possessing a haunting familiarity.
Music has the ability to communicate a wonderful range of mood and feelings. Understanding what it is Rich and Boddy are trying to convey will take some effort on the part of the listener.
2005. Chuck van Zyl / Star's End
"Lithosphere" is a collaboration between Robert Rich and Ian Boddy in which both explore unconventional techniques in the production of diverse sonic structures. The global style of this work can be labelled within Dark Ambient. The ten compositions show a strong orientation towards the telluric, obscure and dreamy environments.
The instrumentation and the sonic effects maintain a disquieting tone throughout the album. The music turns out to be oneiric, with subterranean sounds, stony textures and mysterious architectures.
This is the 2nd collaborative album between Rich & Boddy, released in a limited edition of 2000 copies. It’s the outcome of ten days of hard work in Rich’s studio. Compared to its predecessor, "Outpost", the sound and overall feel of the new album is more organic, energetic and down to earth. So, you can expect some great lap steel guitar, powerful bass murmurs, string and woodwind loops and lots of sampled ingredients.
These are fused utilizing an alternate just intonation tuning which sometimes has a slight experimental edge. An excellent track is "Chamber", in my view a typical Rich-composition featuring melancholic, hovering textures over a light sequence while the analogue intro of "Subduction" definitely holds the Boddy trademark before Rich’s melancholy fades in.
"Lithophere" is a well-crafted piece of work lasting 52 minutes which heads for new borders, visiting darker and lighter but always innovative corners of ambient music.
Nicely done, guys!
Bert Strolenberg / SonicImmersion.org
Drifting spacey ambience alternating with rhythmic sequences overlaid with haunting, droning melodies. The weightless introduction track 'Threshold' briefly sways and shifts beatlessly before a latticework of pulses and chiming synth tones eases in followed by the ghostly strains of Robert Rich's lap steel guitar. The lead sound is distantly reminiscent of huge undersea creatures calling across immense ocean passages whilst the latticed understructures call to mind gamelan patterns - intricate, rolling, tintinnabulous. Scrapes and distant impacts occasionally punctuate the vapourscapes or light programmed percussion binds looser arrangements together maintaining gentle regularity. Tracks inter flow into one smooth whole - drifting space giving way to restive flickering beats and then again back to nebulous drones.
Whilst Boddy's programming and keyboard work suggest exotic gongs, chimes, resonators and bowls, Rich's playing keens and swells with wistful beauty - the combination at times serene and graceful, at times mysterious and restless. There are passages of remote spacey loneliness where the ambient clouds that have rolled in the background take center stage, moments where soft, distant pounding impels the eerie darkness into deliberate motion, tracks where cascading jangles and striking tumble along in constant evolution.
Echoing the title, an arcing honeycomb of concrete squares curves across the front cover and the rear of the inner booklet - once opened out giving the impression of a huge stony dome. Track titles are found alongside timings on both the rear jewel case and the inside of the booklet. A portrait of the two artists is also within, side by side in monochrome. We have a gear list for both Ian Boddy and Robert Rich alongside some brief recording details.
Lithosphere follows up on the duo's debut album "Outpost". As before the pair worked together rather than choosing a virtual meeting via the internet, convening at Rich's Californian Soundscape studio. Following Boddy's departure Rich then honed and fine-tuned the arrangements before finalizing the mastering of the project. As before the central sound is that of Rich's lap steel guitar and the "deep bass rumblings of his analogue MOTM modular system" whilst Boddy brings high quality sampled glass & stone percussion instruments and a variety of "delicate keyboard textures ... together with haunting string & woodwind loops."
Lithosphere sits comfortably at the juncture of ambient and sequential electronica - try this album if you enjoy serious music with an experimental freedom. Fans of both artists will surely appreciate this collaboration since the personalities of both shine forth and are only enhanced by this coming together of kindred souls.
This release from 2005 offers 53 minutes of cerebral electronic music.
Haunting textural flows act as a durable foundation for buoyant beats and sinuous keyboards that evoke starkly technological landscapes. Sustained tones interweave with serpentine results, generating luscious tapestries of glimmering harmonics. The frequent presence of eerie effect lend an otherworldly mien to the compositions, but there's always an underlying terrestrial bond that keeps the audience grounded in a manner that strongly connects to the human psyche.
Understated rhythms provide subtle propulsion for most of these pieces. The tempos are snappy and often jovial while rarely being intrusive, guiding more than goading the music's pace.
Some of the pieces employ gritty, almost harsh noises which provide the tunes with a vivid edginess. This achieves a cosmic drama that heightens these track's ephemeral quality with a sort of faint industrial disposition. Meanwhile, other songs explore this industrial mood from a softer direction, utilizing moody ambience to create enormous regions of glistening vacuum.
Rich's luxurious soundscapes work well in tandem with Boddy's rhythmic sensibilities, producing tuneage that floats with a notable bounce.
2006. Matt Howarth / Sonic Curiosity
Lithosphere is the second collaboration between these two, and plays much like a sequel to Outpost. Dark brooding atmospheres and textures meld incongruously with synthetic bubbles and clicks and such.
"Threshold" is a formless dark ambient piece to introduce the album, followed by two quirky complex pieces, "Vent" and "Chamber." The former has seemingly random bass notes slowly dancing around Robert’s lap guitar. The latter is soft percolating percussion. As different as they are on the surface, they share a common thread that runs through Lithosphere, combining disparate elements into experimental electronica.
"Glass" is as delicate as it sounds, a minimal and surprisingly smooth piece in comparison to the rest.
"Subduction" is like a slowed down mellower version of "Chamber," again with lots of undulating quirky rhythms playing against a backdrop of dark synth washes.
"Geode" continues in much the same mood, having lighter almost crystalline tones, but with eerie haunting timbres as well.
"Stone" dives deep into lost caverns, complete with scraping sounds to add an extra shiver or two.
"Metamorphic" slowly raises the intensity, including chilling choirs toward the end, almost menacing.
Lithosphere is a bold, daring, challenging listen.
2006. Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
This is the second collaboration between two of the UKs and USA original and best electronic music pioneers.
The sound of Roberts lap steel textures and deep analog moog bass rumbles is strikingly enhanced by Boddys keyboards and synth, with sampled glass and stone percussive sounds. Add haunting string and woodwind loops, the result is LITHOSPHERE, an album of contemporary music extraordinaire.