Robert Rich & Lisa Moskow come together to create an ethno-ambient, electro-acoustic soundscape on their only full-length album Yearning. Combining Lisa's masterful sarod playing over Robert's sonic textures utilizing analog/digital synths, guitar, santur, and percussion, the two explore the deepest yearning to find self-expression through sound. With over two dozen albums, Robert Rich has helped define the genres of ambient music, dark-ambient, ethno-ambient, tribal, and trance, yet his music remains hard to categorize.
With over two dozen albums, Robert Rich has helped define the genres of ambient music, dark-ambient, ethno-ambient, tribal, and trance, yet his music remains hard to categorize. Part of his unique sound comes from using home-made acoustic and electronic instruments, microtonal tunings, computer-based signal processing, chaotic systems and feedback networks. Rich began building his own analog synthesizers in 1976, when he was 13 years old, and later studied for a year at Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics.
Composer/sarod player Lisa Sangita Moskow has gained international recognition for her innovative work with the sarod, a 25-stringed lute from North India. She has spent the last 28 years creating original compositions and unusual ensembles for this instrument, and has performed extensively throughout Europe, Mexico, and the U.S. West Coast.
Lisa has developed a new genre of sarod composition using non-traditional tunings and techniques. These pieces incorporate vocalizations and lyrics. They draw heavily from the scales, rhythms, and structures of North Indian classical music, but also from the musics of Indonesia, Japan, the Middle East, and Europe. She performs these pieces both as a soloist and with a variety of accompanying instruments including harp, cello, guitar, didgeridoo, and hand percussion.
Moskow has won two awards from ASCAP, and has been a member of Mosaic -- a San Francisco Bay Area composer group, since 1991. She makes regular appearances on radio and TV, and has worked in film, theater, dance, and multimedia productions.
The musical concept behing Yearning emerged during the making of Robert Rich's 1994 Hearts of Space release Propagation. Rich explains. "I was looking for the album I was hearing in my head, a complete aural womb that would go on forever and ever." The album Yearning became a reality through the extraordinary unification of Lisa Moskow's instrumental virtuosity and improvisational imagination and Robert Rich's multi-instrumental wizardry and peerless mastery of sonic architecture. The collaboration began with Rich recording Moskow during six hours of sarod improvisations in alap style. Exploiting the vast potential of digital multitrack recording, Rich was then able to integrate his own huge, shifting clouds of sound made by flutes (many hand-crafted to fit the tonality of each movement), synths, guitar, santur, and percussion, "allowing the music to move me in what ever direction it should."
"Most Indian music is recorded in a strictly ethnomusicological manner," Rich notes, "isolating a particular performance in a specific place and time. I treated the sections, based on various raga modes, like one long, flowing performance." Although sound design is crucial to the deep, dark atmospherics of Yearning, the actual role of computer electronics is subdued into the delicate microtonal adjustments that make each passage dovetail into the next, and the subtle enhancements that, in Rich's words "create a hybrid of acoustic and electronic texture - every timbre is acoustic but feels much larger."
"When I'm making music," Rich explains, "I want to discover something much bigger than me. The purpose is the transformation."
That notion perfectly fit Moskow's understanding of Indian music, which, she says "is not a classical tradition fixed in time. There is a great deal of freedom within the form and, as in America's classical music, jazz, you can improvise indefinitely once you know the rules. It allows enormous potential for self-expression."
By presenting that mode of self-expression in a context of expanded time and space, Rich and Moskow invite the listener into a world that is comforting and familiar yet entirely challenging and fresh.