Robert Rich - Neurogenesis [Soundscape Production - 2020]Neurogenesis is the latest album from respected and influential US ambient artist Robert Rich. And once again it finds him trying something different from his previous offering 2020’s Offering To The Morning Fog-which focused on hazy & warming tones/ structures. Neurogenesis is an album that finds up-beat Berlin school ambient/ electronica sound, meeting cascading electro minimalism. Sure, later on, we get dips into the slightly slower–to-moodier fare, but mostly this is a pulsing, urgent if at points quite spacey record.
The release appears in the form of a CD on Rich’s Soundscape Production label. With it coming presented in six-panel digipak- this features a yellow, green & black colour scheme, taking in alien like sky-scapes, lines of crackling static, and lit-up organic structures. The look/ design is not as memorable or classy as some of Rich’s recent album covers artwork; but it’s serviceable enough, certainly fitting the sounds with-in well.
The album takes in seven tracks in all, with a runtime of forty-eight minutes. Fitting the more constantly pulsing & urgent feel of the record, the tracks (by ambient standards) are fairly short mostly hitting between four and eight minutes, with only the title track topping the nine-minute mark.
We open up with the said title track- here we find constantly pulsing and cascading synth tones, drifting with more layers of pulsing electronics, darting electro vibe points, and simmering drone ebbs. As the track progresses a mysterious space whistling ebbs & bobs through the other layers, like a distant colour glinting spacecraft drifting off into a seemingly endless sea of stars.
By track three “Proximal” you think things may have eased back somewhat, as it opens with glowing-to-sweeping ambience. But fairly soon the pulsing & darting keys have returned- marking out a brightly bobbing sonic path. As we move on we get the return of the drifting space whispers, as well as moody guitar scaping swells, and layers of choppy electro texturing. On this track, the pulsing nicely sways 'n' wavers in its patterns- giving the whole thing an almost oriental gone-wrong electro vibe.
It’s not until track five “Dendritic” that the urgency & dart starts to loosen- as we find a blend of light clamouring synth tones, drifting with flute-like flits, and hazed ambient sweeps. But seeing the record out is “Erinacea”, which switches the more defined pulsing back on once more- with a blend of lulling & cascading synth tones, subtle ethnic edged percussion, rich sweeping steel guitar tones, and more pronounced space whispers.
Rich is one of the few long-term ambient artists who is constantly looking for new ways to twist/ change their sound, and once again Neurogenesis is a prime example of this. Not sure if this grabbed me quite as much as Rich’s last few albums, but that’s down to me enjoying his more gloomy-to-hazed setting, but that certainly doesn't take away from this been another very skilled & masterful example of ambient electronica.