Born in West Virginia and the son of a coal miner, Justin Robert has been a musician since the age of 10 when he started playing the guitar and drums. He played in several bands from 1986 into the 00s. He started making experimental music in 1995 with a 4track, loops, a Moog synthesizer, toys, guitar, drums, bass, analog effects, tape loops, pedals, sleds, cheese-cutters, or what ever he could find that made a sound.
Justin's approach to music early on could have only been compared to automatic writing, in the sense that he would hit record, and just play. Often times not knowing what he was going to do or how it would sound. This stream of conscious method of creation led to strange, beautiful and sometimes frightening results in over 100 songs from the years 1995 to 2002. What Justin was doing was not just music. It was in-depth self-exploration and experimentation that bled into all other aspects of his life. He wanted to try, see and do everything. This approach to life and music led him to a unique source of knowledge and creativity, which came from life experience and is deeply personal.
By the time Justin had reached his 30s, the dust had started to settle and he was ready start to use what he had learned. His methods had started to take form into something more solid. Influenced by Indian music Justin often uses drones and eastern sounding tunings, but still in others he utilizes more western sounding chord progressions. Like classical Indian music, Justin’s music makes use of the Raga. Which is a series of 5 or more notes to achieve a mood or color of the song. Many times Justin will use the Raga he has found and play the corresponding notes at random within a loop and then wash it in and out of the song in the midst of repetitive chord progressions or bass lines also adhering to the Raga.
Justin has also done soundtrack work on several independent films, notably with Tampa’s Leftover Films, who are a regular competitor in The 48 Hour Film Challenge, as well as The National Film Challenge.
He is also owner and music director of Dreamentia, a web stream that serves as an online venue for ambient and electronic musicians which incorporates live performances as its main form of show and has been syndicated by Mystic Age Radio on Sunday nights at 9 PM eastern time US. .
Here's some Reviews!
JUSTIN ROBERT: Manasota (CD on Lunar Flower Records)
This release from 2007 offers 58 minutes of gritty ambience.
Soothing tones wavering behind pacific harmonics prepare the listener for a plunge into a grittier ambience. The mood and timbre becomes harsher as guitar effects take over. A growling drone provides a backdrop for twinkling guitar notes amid a pool of gurgling diodes. Faint percussives resound softly as if echoing within a metal cargo hold.
While well hidden, the guitar is the main instrument here, albeit subjected to an abundance of treatments and reprocessing, resulting in a plethora of unearthly tonal effects. Expansive tonalities are created, then twisted sideways to provide cover for more conventional guitar chords. Metal scrapings and breathless sustains abound. Feigned cellos and sawing strings lend a classical edge to the industrial noise.
Often, the guitar-generated drones ascend to near-painful intensity, utilizing volume to approximate approach and departure. A compression of aggressive sounds achieves a celestial disposition that opens the sky.
For the 16 minute finale, Robert employs actual guitar chords of a melodic nature, counterpointing each other as the different layers interact and evolve.
Although there are melodic hints, this music is generally harmonic, relying on dense layers to establish a soundscape designed to pry open the listener's head with a relentless grind of guitar distortions. Notably, however, this music is devoid of any hostility, pursuing a blissful euphoria reached through teeth-grinding passages of musique concrete.
-Matt Howarth. Sonic Curiosity
"Justin Robert's music is heavily influenced by spirituality and dreams. Besides releasing albums he's also written some film scores and performed live. His recent album Manasota is ambient in a similar vein to Oenyaw's output; and he says that love is the single guiding force in making this album. Judging by the CD cover I think the album title is a reference to Manasota Key - a barrier island off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
The first track “In the only way that it is real” is atypical. While the rest of the album is a blend of seemingly barren ambient, drone, and a dash of psychedelia this piece is melodic. See-sawing guitar notes quickly lull the listener into a relaxed mood while unobtrusive bass notes and pads form a gentle melody. The pace slowly increases before a searing drone line comes in, nearly washing everything else out.
Hard edged drones feature on many tracks, sometimes sounding like processed or distorted guitars. This is particularly notable on “Bleeding” where back and forth refrains act as a simple melody overlaid on a carpet of distorted fuzzing sounds. And on “Sun” almost uncomfortable noises like cello, guitar, and other string instruments being scraped form weird yet somehow fascinating drones. It's as if we're seeing something through the haze of a dream during unsettled sleep.
Whereas some works convey feelings or impressions through tunes or evocative sounds, Manasota acts on a different level. There's something difficult to pinpoint about the structure of the music that seems to act more on the subconscious than conscious level. Maybe it's the use of simple rhythmic and melodic elements.
Manasota is an interesting work that deserves listening past the first impression of hardcore ambient drone to discover the subtleties and clever use of piquant sonics." Dene Bebbington, Melliflua.com
"A mature and thoughtful collection of beatless and gently experimental ambience. Although inspired by by environmental impressionists like Eno and Steve Roach, this American composer also veers into deeply personal territory at times. Among the soft-focus sounds and dappled colours of Manasota there's suffering as well as joy, intimacy as well as cool detachment. Sonically the music ranges all over the place from lovely tonal passages to surreal, disintegrating, washed-out layers of sound. More often than not, the album works. There's some guitars, strings and flute in there and various machine buzzes and drones; beyond that, the sources of Robert's sounds are probably known only to him. Which is nice." -Mike G. Ambient Music Guide
"We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.
We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.
We work with being, but non-being is what we use." -Lao tsu