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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Robert Rich - Tactile Ground [Soundscape Productions - 2019]

Tactile Ground is the latest offering from respected US ambient artists Robert Rich. The album appears in the form of a two-CD set, and really it finds Rich offering up another fairly varied journey into his ambient craft- moving between rich & lulling blends of melodic piano & soothing field recordings. Onto glowing & spiritual space ambience, through to mysterious drifts bringing together muffled voice elements & brightly cascading with lulling ethno ambience, and beyond.

The double-disc set appears in a six-panel mini gatefold- which is illustrated with Rich foray into oil paint- on the front cover we get a terrain like picture made from earthy colour pallet, as well as other mood suitable pictures on the back, inside, and within the releases glossy booklet- all in all a nicely classy looking release. The album appears on Rich’s on label, and as far as I’m aware this is not an Ltd- so if you want to hear a sample, or buy direct head here.


Each of the two-disc has its own name, and first of these is Location. This opens with one of the most enchantingly haunting & beautiful tracks I’ve heard in some time "The Sentience Of Truth" -it's a nine-minute piece that sees Rich bringing together slowed & perfectly placed mid ranged harmonic piano darts, constant lulling water trickle, carefully placed bird warbles, and rich-if slightly forlorn drone warmth- it really does feel like ones  settling into a warming sonic bath. A bit later on the first disc the bird field recordings appear once again on “The Abiding Wheel”- this just over seven minute track uses them in a more mysterious & nocturnal manner- with blend of darkly lush flute drift, slowly clunking bamboo & vibe elements- all topped off with hazed twittering, that drift in & out of focus.  This first disc takes in six tracks in all- with a total runtime of fifty-seven minutes- for the most part, I enjoyed all of the tracks here, save a few of the middle ones that did move a bit too towards glowing New age tinged ambience for my liking.


The second disc is entitled Dislocation- takes in nine tracks, and has a runtime of just under an hour. Here we move from dark & yawning abyss like vibe of "Haptic Incursion" with its weird alien like slurred clunking, carefully expanding ambient tonal brood, and eerier squawking. Onto the circling whistling-yet slight off-angle feel of "Senescent Architecture" with it's slurred light & bright electro vibe hints, swarming wispy swirls, and ghostly harmonic trails.  Through to simmer & woeful lap steel meets gently cascading aquatic rumble & knock of "Tentative Unfolding". I enjoy both of the discs here, but I’d say of the two I found this second one the most consistent- purely down to the slightly moodier-to-darker tinged tracks.


Once again Tactile Ground highlights Rich’s skill for creating creative ambient fare that utilizes a skilfully played & arranged selection of different instrumentation & sonic elements. All to build an album that can be either taken on initially surface mood, or rewarding as deeper & more careful listening - all showing why Rich is still considered one of the masters & subtle innovators within the ambient genre.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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