1 Ambergris 4:14
2 Translucent 4:59
3 Attar 6:38
4 Verbena 5:03
5 Kalyani 8:09
6 Vetiver 6:25
7 Tamarack 5:38
8 Charukesi 7:11
9 First Rain 4:59
A tree from the Philippines, the Ylang-Ylang produces an essential oil for the uses of perfumes. And it’s also the title of Robert Rich's 1st solo album since 2007 Illumination. This last opus of the American multi-instrumentalism is also perfumed of an equatorial and tropical scent with a multiclanic approach where fragrances of a world as Amerindian as Asian border on an oniric one which is very near the Buddhisms and Tibetans spiritualities. With Ylang Robert Rich proposes a cerebral journey in the heart of South-East Asia forests on tribal structures of an underestimated and charming world, where aboriginal percussions mould enigmatic lascivious and latent rhythms on breaths of an omnipresent flute and angelic vocals.
A fine rain, delicate arpeggios forgotten on a piano and a solitary flute introduce the first chords of "Ambergris". The tempo falls. Weary it bends in front of strata from a spectral guitar and a tearful synth which encircle this musical firmament from where escapes multitude of chords on lascivious percussions. Percussions which mould a rhythm mi sensual and mi ghostly quite as on "Tamarack" although it’s more accessible and more enchanting with the Lap Steel Guitar whose waves float such as wandering specters. The rhythms on Ylang are very subtle. Ultimately we could think that the album is more atonal than rhythmic except that tempos are always present and draw a very ambivalent rhythmic architecture. "Translucent" and "Verbena" are perfect examples. The tempos are looming from strange Amerindian tribal incantations and are always latent. Without ever exploding or progressing excessively, they soak in a rich sound atmosphere and are of use as assizes to very poetic and oniric musical structures where hand percussions, flutes, ethereal voices and synth with slightly nervous dress a heterogeneous and spiritual musical world. On Ylang Robert Rich renew with the fragrances of his musical world. The flute is the key element of "Attar" and "Kalyani" where slamming percussions and a jazzy bass sculpt a slow morphic tempo. These are two beautiful enigmatic titles because of their crossings between a Tibetan mystic world which goes alongside with slow and sensual jazz structures to waddle languishingly on great aboriginal percussions and a sound flora very rich in clanic variations.
"Vetiver" is what is the closest to Robert Rich's desertic universe (as well as Tamarack). With its rich percussions to hybrid strikes on drifting structures, "Vetiver" revolves in an atonal world where the breaths of flutes become intermingled with synth snippets and angelic vocalizes, structuring a somber arid world. It’s a very good track where we can get its entire dimension through headphones. With its progressive tempo which wriggles beneath the steams of Amerindian flutes, "Charukesi" is unfolding like a slow Indian procession. It’s a title without precise rhythms but which gets its energy through Robert Rich's furious flute. Languishing, plaintive and melancholic, "First Rain" ends this soft tribal musical epic with violin orchestrations to make the indifference melt. Still there the rhythm is uncertain, navigating on a sea of xylophone keys and rich violin strata which encircles a discreet plaintive synth and the notes of a forsaken piano.
Ylang is as much beautiful as the unknown can be attractive. Through its 9 titles, Robert Rich succeeds in weaving a musical structure of a stunning beauty. But like a beauty unsung in jungle Ylang has to be to tame. Because if titles like "Ambergris", "Vetiver" and "Tamarack" will be a delight for the fans of Robert Rich, the other titles will need a rediscovery of his stunning and always so rich musical universe. As for me I enjoyed so much discovering these strange and enchanting rhythms which don’t know if they dance or if they sink in an eclectic, poetic and often oniric musical world which is the fruit of Robert Rich's fertile imagination.
Sylvain Lupari (2010)
Cet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream: http://www.gutsofdarkness.com/god/objet.php?objet=13325
* If you want to know more about the exotic world of Robert Rich and hear some MP3 snippets, you can visit his website here: http://robertrich.com/