Robert Rich - Offering To The Morning Fog [Soundscape Productions - 2020]Offering To The Morning Fog is an extremely apt title for this new release from US ambient legend Robert Rich, as the whole album has a very hazy, yet warningly ebbing & drift quality about it- with at points one almost getting the feeling that you've drifted up into the clouds themselves. The six-track release- which is available as either a CD or digital download- is very flute forward in its sonic make-up, making for very lush-yet-hauntingly soothing album.
Before we get into the tracks themselves we must talk about the artwork of the CD digipak- this a six-panel affair, and on the outside we get title fitting grey sort-of-ink wash art that’s overlaid with pictures of woodland & birds. Then inside we get a pink & white hazed picture of wild grassland. A really moody & arty bit of packaging- making it well worth picking this up in its physical form.
The six-track release comes in at the sixty seven-minute mark- and as one with expected with ambient music the tracks are fairly lengthy coming in between nine and thirteen-minute a piece, yet none of them ever seem to outstay or stretch their welcome- and like the best ambient albums each feels like a chapter in the albums bigger story. Also as you’d expect too this is very much of a headphone record- as Rich certainly utilizes a lot of subtle sound detail, and layers here- so good headphones make sure you get the full experience.
The album opens with “Distant Traveller”- it’s centred around gently swooping 'n' ebbing flute playing- this is harmonic-yet-mysterious in its wistful flow. Around/ through the flutes pressing voice Rich sends out wavering & lulling sub-tones of droning ambience- this pulls you deeper & deeper in gentle glowing harmonic heart of the pipes. Underneath the flute & growing ambient weight, Rich places very subtle and distant tones- be they stone-like knocks, water drips, or grain shifts- this adds the feeling of both depth, organic mystery, and subtle unease to the mix.
By track four, the wonderfully named “Awake When Shadows Walk” the mysterious & haunting feel of the album has deepened- as the longer & wavering flow of the flute has been joined by banks of buzzing drone, and swirling sweeps of mid-to-higher tones. Underneath this we once again distant textural detail- though it’s difficult to define what exactly these are, as they blend knocking & twinkling tones. By the final track “Fall Up,The Clouds WillCatch You” we seem to be floating somewhere between fading purple skies & rising golden dawn- as we find a blend of simmering and glowing ambience, drifted over by slowly sailing swoops & mellow bays of deep & emotive flute playing.
Offering To The Morning Fog highlights once more that Rich is not an artist who wants to sit on his laurels & release the same record year in year out. As once again he’s put a lot of thought into the sound design, instrumental make-up, and atmospheric impact of the album- so it nods back to his past work, but looks forward to new ground too. Put simply another great, and distinctive ambient album from Mr. Rich- to purchase a copy of the CD direct head here