Robert Rich - The Biode [Soundscape Productions - 0000]After the more pared-back, melancholic and often piano dominate the sound of his last two releases-2016ís Vestiges, and 2017's Lift A Feather To The Flood with Markus Reuter. The Biode sees this US ambient legend returning to more varied waters. With the ten track album moving from organically choppy & alien glitching like electronica, onto beat bound ethnic ambient moodiness, through to more moody & darkly building blend of ambience.
The album appeared in early 2018- coming in either the form of a CD or a digital download. Iím reviewing the CD version- this comes in a wonderfully vibrate & fairly trippy looking digipak, which features multiple sprouting & vivid organisms/ plant life against bright yellow backdrops. And like the music within it's very much in contrast to the more gloomy & mainly monochrome look of his two previous releases artwork.
The theme of the album is that mankind is less of a collection of individuals, but more a collective, or a network of organismís link together- akin to bacteria, viruses, or fungi. And the albums flow very much shifts from alien to heady moodiness, to kind of bleak acceptance- really mirroring the idea of this concept and the reality of it.
For the albums shifting and varied journey Rich uses an impressive selection of kit- and this creates depth, detail, and contrast. We have the electronic tools such as Haken Continuum, motm & Euro modular, DSI P6 & P12, and Moog Voyage Rme. Though to the more organic flute, lap steel, bass & percussion. The material on the album was recorded between 2015 & 2018- clearly showing the amount of thought & planning gone into the albums unfold. And really like the best albums it takes you on a journey- from dizzying & strange, though to atmospheric & ethic, onto darker more stripped back fare.
Richís sonic output stretches back to the early 80ís, and I cant think of many artists of this vintage still creating such focused, creative & attention-grabbing work as we hear on The Biode. Itís going to be very interesting to see where he turns on his next release.Roger Batty