Quite a long time has passed since Robert Rich’s last album. Nest was released in September of 2012. However, it doesn’t mean this iconic sound explorer was silent during the last two years. On the contrary, in this period of time he resurrected his legendary sleep concert format, which firstly led to his live presentation in Krakow, Poland, in October of 2013 at the Unsound Festival (his first sleep concert in 15 years), and one year later, Perpetual – A Somnium Continuum, a monstrous 15-hour Blu-ray, was released with 8 hours of new soundscapes. In the meantime, Darren Bergstein’s Anodize label released in December 2013 the Morphology CD, a stellar sonic document from May 15, 2010. On the top of all that, April 2014 saw the release of Premonitions 1980-1984, a 4-LP set featuring highly treasured pieces from cassette releases, out on the German Vinyl-On-Demand label. A quite productive silence…
Now it’s time encounter the Filaments odyssey! Released during January 2015, the first impression is splendid, no question about that, because the 6-panel digipak comes with gorgeous front and inside paintings by Nad Wolinska and Daniel Cake and photography by Christian Tanimoto III. As usual, the design and layout is expertly handled by John Bergin. This visual bliss is completed by in-depth liner notes by Robert Rich himself, displaying the title story behind each track when focusing on cosmology realms. I am holding in my hands: a true piece of art.
I am taken on the board as quick as the opening track title, 5-minute “Filaments”, spreads across the listening room. The journey has been ignited with an utterly immersing and spellbindingly expansive driftscape, gorgeously nuanced with cinematic climaxes, spacious quietudes and cyber-tech biotics, all intriguingly shaped by Robert Rich’s innate wizardry. I would say this grandiosely stellar composition is slightly aypical for Robert Rich’s soundforging. I am weightlessly drifting into ultimate sonic Heaven!
“Majorana”, at 10:45 the second longest composition, remains on these immense spacefields, cinematically undulating and guarding above euphorically swirling sequences, which continuously counterpoint with piercing lap steel cries. Also, utterly gorgeous transitions emerge over the course, when celestial choir-like insignias guide the voyage, before entering breathtakingly unfathomable depths toward the end. Wow, another triumphant aural adventure showcasing the musical genius of Robert Rich in full bloom! The shorter “Scintilla” effectively merges unmistakable sequencer work with stunningly evocative siren weeps and ear-tickling clinks.
“Aetherfields” invade straightly with enigmatic reverberations, gently cacophonous and mindscaping, but a wistful piano motif serenely meanders across and meticulously softens this delicate perplexity. “Entangled”, the longest track, clocking in at nearly the 11-minute mark, embraces the listener with its peaceful but gently expressive piano, while lap steel whines ride atop, along with distant pulses that slowly permeate through the nostalgic blankets, transmute and steal the centrestage as the earmarking melodious meridian, sublimely joyous, that is only Robert Rich, before silently fading away into an infinite paradise of stillness. But my ears won’t get any rest from this delight, because “Eulalia” keeps the attention with its sequencing signature wizardry, again cheerfully shimmering with a distinctively exuberant cyber-organic percussive layer, all virtuosically reinforced by gorgeously yearning lap steel guitar imagery. Yes, the lap steel sounds in this wonderfully evocative composition are absolutely magnificent. Pure sonic bliss awaits here again. Bravo, Maestro!
With “Laniakea” some exquisitely mysterious horizons reveal, although safely floating on the waves of brightly shinning sequences. The next piece, “Aetherfolds”, bridges nearly reverberating, squeaked-like sound ventures with poignantly flavoured sparse piano subtleties. A stunningly peculiar, yet deeply contemplative sound collage. The 10-minute closer, “Telomere”, gets back to fresh sequencer-driven domains, hauntingly winding and crescendoing through widescreen, warmly fascinating space expanses. A very strong conclusion to this highly accomplished recording.
The Filaments album is more proof of Robert Rich’s musical superiority and a tremendously essential addition to his already glorious discography. Each of his new releases is worth the wait, no matter how long it takes. This album is, as always, filled with Robert’s many signature sounds, even without his flute artistry this time, and trademarking perfection is displayed in every single detail of this album. Even the way the transparent tray is glued to the digipak is absolutely flawless… Aural and visual thrills are served here in huge doses. Certainly another tour de force by this Californian sound aficionado! And don’t forget, by the time I am publishing these lines, Robert is optimizing dates for his North American spring tour, with most dates during April and May, so if you have a chance, don’t miss another spectacular experience. For those based not far from Copenhagen, Denmark, note that April 18th is a date for Robert’s another sleep concert, taking place in the beautiful former church of Nikolaj Kunsthal. We couldn’t ask for more!
Richard Gürtler (March 22, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)