A Review from www.electroambientspace.com:
Robert Rich “Illumination”
7 tracks, 71.06 mins
Robert Rich seems to do well drawing on visual artists for his inspiration. Three of his recent recordings, Echo of Small Things, Atlas Dei, and now Illumination were derived from, in turn, still photography, computer graphics, and a multimedia installation. What amazes me is how Robert has been turning out some of his strongest work after what could easily have been a career-ending hand injury. Any limitations he experiences seem merely to focus laser-like sharpness on his ability to create minimal soundscapes in a variety of creative ways. Listening to Illumination, as well as other recent recordings by Rich, one marvels at his ability to make music out of the barest elements. Deep, cavernous echoes and resonant drones are the order of the day. I’d be hard pressed to identify the instrumentation used, and Rich isn’t saying in the liner notes. Barely audible whispers can also be heard in the background at times, adding to the haunting quality. Much of it has a metallic or ringing character as well, sometimes sounding similar to Steve Roach’s The Magnificent Void. Though Rich’s tones can sometimes have melody, Illumination is all about textures and tone. Near-nothingness never sounded so good.
c. 2007 Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
This CD is published as a companion piece to Michael Somoroff’s installation Illumination I originally created for the famed Rothko Chapel, on the occasion of the installation’s move to The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT as the audio track to Somoroff’s Illumination, a multimedia installation at BravinLee Programs in Chelsea, N.Y.C. during the summer of 2007.
From the liner notes:
Featuring seven musical poems, Illumination will take you on a journey beyond your senses. Push through the Curtain of reality amid a pure harmonic series of high frequency sounds to a world of inner reflection, Point, Line, Plane depicts cosmic clouds of primal resonance, the abstract and mathematical, Plato’s Cave, whispers in a multitude of tongues, sonic sign languages of the internal dialogue of pure consciousness, and finally Temple, the sound of a spiritual architectural space of No-thingness. Rich’s subtle musical interpretation of Illumination embraces the sacred rituals and spaces of all, capturing the universal essence of our post-modern culture. It is a meditation piece for the mind and the body.
A New Sacred Space: Michael Somoroff’s Illumination I
To “see the light,” to emerge at last from the so-called “Dark Night”: this is what Michael Somoroff’s Illumination I embodies. Whether it be understood as the darkness and ignorance that prevail in the Platonic cave, or the painful “impotence, blankness, solitude” experienced by the soul “immersed in this dark fire of purification,” the point is the same: how to escape the intellectual and emotional suffering. In other words, Illumination I satisfies the need for transcendence, even if the spectator doesn’t know that he or she has the need. Illumination I articulates the pressing need for transcendence—all the more so these “descendental” days—and thus invites the spectator to satisfy the need through it. Seeing the light in and through Illumination I the spectator confirms that it is sacred—a sacred space in which the spectator can experience his or her inner sacredness. Supposedly nothing is sacred in a secular world—we are all profane in the “iron cage,” the term Max Weber used to describe society after it had been modernized by science and technology (an ironically enlightenment, as Weber suggests, for it made the world uniformly gray)--but some works of art still seem sacred, and demand a spiritual response. - Donald Kuspit, Professor of Art History and Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.