Robert Rich ‎– Trances / Drones



Cave Paintings 23:54
Hayagriva 25:13
Sunyata (Emptiness) 22:50
Seascape 29:59
Wheel Of Earth 27:58
Resonance 12:17

Versions (5)

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
XLTD 001, XLTD-001 Robert Rich Trances / Drones(CD, Album, RE + CD, Album, RE + Comp, RM) Extreme, Extreme XLTD 001, XLTD-001 US 1994 Sell This Version
RR 6455-2 Robert Rich Trances / Drones(CD, Album + CD, Album + Comp, RE, RM) Release Entertainment RR 6455-2 US 2000 Sell This Version
hyp3364 Robert Rich Trances & Drones(2xCD, Comp, RE) Hypnos, Soundscape hyp3364 US 2013 Sell This Version
none Robert Rich Trances & Drones(6xFile, FLAC, Comp, RE) Not On Label (Robert Rich Self-released) none US 2016
none Robert Rich Trances & Drones(6xFile, FLAC, Comp) Not On Label none US Unknown


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December 18, 2017
edited 12 months ago
referencing Trances / Drones, CD, Album, RE + CD, Album, RE + Comp, RM, XLTD 001, XLTD-001
Once you hit play on you CD player there is no returning to music as you know it.
This is almost formless, free-form improvisational music designed, manipulated and bio-organically created to change your perception of what music is and what it can be beyond the Euro-classical dominated aesthetics of the modern world.
Timeless and ebbing like the universe and a mental balm for many seeking to escape just for an hour or two from the cages of reality!
Robert tore a hole in the cosmic music vortex when he channeled the music on Trances & Drones.
Not necessarily dark and evil sounding like say Lustmord but channeled from that aesthetic of non percussion, non melodic style of electronic music that draws its own boundaries lucid of form or function. Buy it!


October 14, 2017
edited about 1 year ago
referencing Trances / Drones, CD, Album, RE + CD, Album, RE + Comp, RM, XLTD 001, XLTD-001

As reviewed by me in January 1995:

Summary: Holy cow, your entire apartment repainted and refurnished for the cost of one double-disc set!

I'm not sure how limited this can be, since Extreme doesn't sell that many CDs to begin with, but I'll take their word for it that this is a limited edition. If the bio they sent is right, he's been building synths since age 13 and has been creating "sustained sound environments" since the late 70s. While working toward his undergraduate psychology degree in the early 80s he gave all night concerts for sleeping audiences and recorded the music on these two albums, among others. Nowadays he makes that thirtysomething-with-a-digeridoo-and-sticks-in-a-big-leaky-cave brand of earthy ambient that Steve Roach and his buddies get a kick out of, and he whines that people should like what he's doing now instead of just now getting into what he was doing 10–13 years ago. Not that his new music is any less enjoyable; it just appeals to a different mindset because it is most likely coming from a different mindset than the music from his sleep concert days.

Being one of the people in the spacey/droney/dark-is-good mindset, I have to put this album second from the top of my 1994's best ambient releases list (Global Communication's 76 14 gets the top spot). This is what ambient music is all about. It paints your walls with sound. It completely surrounds you. It's not there to be entertaining, it's not there to be there at all. It's *here*, it's all around. Such is the nature of Trances and Drones.

While most "drone" ambient is of the industrial variety—hauntingly cold and often nightmarish—this album is warm and alive, without so much as a hint of rhythm. No percussion or sequencing is needed for Rich's boundaryless musical haze. Moods are created and tones are sedated, everything blends together beautifully. Trances is a little rougher than Drones, but both are equally good.

Today's minimalists have a lot to learn from Robert Rich. Most of Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works II sounds like a shoe in a dryer compared to "Wheel of Earth" and "Resonance".


August 23, 2013
edited over 5 years ago
referencing Trances & Drones, 2xCD, Comp, RE, hyp3364

Robert Rich "Trances & Drones" 2xCD

I was always dreaming about penning down few lines on this very special recording, I think today is the right day, so let's do it. Yes, "Trances/Drones" is a very important recording for me, I still keep clearly in mind the day in 1995 when Extreme edition of "Trances/Drones" crossed my targets. My sonic explorations were culminating around that time. But as soon as "Hayagriva" invaded my listening room, I knew something special is about to happen... Yes, a brand new gates were unlocked, a definite turning point!!! Of course at that day I didn't know too much about the guy named Robert Rich, but soon after that I dove deeper into the soundworlds of Robert Rich and soon realized amazing facts about this release. Robert Rich has recorded tracks for "Trances/Drones" during 1982 and 1983, aged between 19 and 20 years old. And this is what fascinates me the most!!! This was also the period of time, when Robert Rich has given his legendary sleep concerts during his studies at Stanford University. All these recordings were a truly visionary work, that soon became a base for his future extensive body of work. Firstly released as three separate cassettes "Sunyata", "Trances" and "Drones" by Robert's own Soundscape Productions label, in 1994 for the first time presented as a double CD edition "Trances/Drones" by Australian Extreme label featuring most of the tracks from these three cassettes, in remastered versions (remastered in 1993 by Robert Rich with the assistance of HoS veteran Bob Olhsson). First reissue followed during 2000 on US label Release Entertainment, a sublabel of Relapse Records. Now, 13 years later, we can celebrate a really gorgeous, richly repackaged digipak reissue by Hypnos (big thanks to Mike Griffin!!!) in collaboration with Robert's Soundscape Productions, released during July, 2013. The return of the Milestone!!!

Maybe it's not usual reviewing 30-year old recordings, but I don't mind, because this music sounds exceptional and it keeps on revealing its magic even in 2013!!! Also excuse me for being too personal in this review, but these are my feelings about "Trances/Drones" and this is the way I will always treasure this extraordinary piece of art!!!

The journey unfolds with "Cave Paintings", the listener is immediately transported into mysterious forest, falling night with serenading cicadas-like sounds, the full immersion invades, the darker, drone passages are stunningly intermingled with lighter traceries and rather high-pitched, soaring lap steel guitar expressions, always harmoniously fitting and progressing. Slightly nostalgic feel surrounds the entire, 24-minute long composition. A virtuoso opening!!! The next track, a 25-plus minutes long opus, is entitled "Hayagriva", a live recording. It dives straightly into breathtaking abyssal realms, modular synth drones meander through spectacularly magnificent cascades, drifting from more resonating, heavy weight passages through phantasmal, dramatic elevations to ear-tickling dissonances. This is extremely mind-blowing sonic experience, one of the most intense I have ever heard, what a journey!!! "Sunyata (Emptiness)" is the oldest piece on "Trances", recorded in 1982. With this composition, Robert Rich invites each listener to enter uncharted shadowy terrains and explore uniquely organic soundscape at its most primordial. Sounds of gentle rain drops and chirping frogs are merged with dense drone walls and strange flute-infused roars. And guarded throughout by otherworldly amorphous groans. A must have for all connoisseurs of the finest deepness and darkness!!! All in all, "Trances" is enormously triumphant sonic adventure, introducing among others bamboo flute and lap steel guitar magics, which later became significant characteristics of Robert Rich's brilliant soundsculpting.

"Drones" reveal tranquilly with 30-minute "Seascape". It exactly sounds as it is titled, elegantly warm, atmospheric cascades are blanketed by soothing ocean wave sounds. As the composition proceeds, calm coastal landscape continuously expands into more disruptive, yet continuously immersing drone bliss. Lots of beautiful meanders, hauntingly serene drifts invade and fade away, then deeply mindscaping shifts steal the show with resonating drone walls and eerie moans. Then smoothly gliding back to more aerial and restful shoreline panoramas. Echoed string wizardry takes "Seascape" to its conclusion. A truly phenomenal composition!!! "Wheel Of Earth", only slightly shorter as its predecessor, swiftly reveals its magic with the invasion of ultra deep slow drones, shortly from the back, milder, soaring fragments sneak in to thick the overall sound massiveness, which strongly embraces with its monotonousness. This is Robert Rich at his most mesmerizing!!! "Resonance" free falls into immeasurable deep chasm of coldly resonating hums intertwined with intangible dim fragments. Ghostly dronescapes provide really serious exercise for your speakers and additional massage for your belly too... By the way, "Resonance" is an exclusive track to this set, recorded in 1983, it didn't appear on any of the three above mentioned cassette releases. And undoubtedly, "Drones" are as much fascinating and glowing as "Trances"!!!

Robert Rich is one of the true masters of our genre, monstrously talented, creative, sophisticated and distinguishing!!! Today, at August 23rd, 2013, when I am publishing these lines, Robert Rich celebrates his 50th Birthday. This is my little big thanks, Robert, for all your wonderful music, enjoy this special day as much as we enjoy your essential sonic innovations throughout all these years!!! We all have a special day every time you release a new album!!!

Richard Gürtler (Aug 23, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)


December 12, 2005
edited over 13 years ago
referencing Trances / Drones, CD, Album, RE + CD, Album, RE + Comp, RM, XLTD 001, XLTD-001
Ocean waves, tribal instruments, slow glissando guitar, thin and ghostly melodies, walls of feedback, little twirly sounds... these ingredients have been lamely tossed together on many wack-ass "chill-out" albums over the years. Not the case on Trances/Drones. Here, Robert Rich reprises the "sleep concert" format that made him famous, proving that less can be more. Without taking minimalism to ridiculous lengths, Rich creates over two hours of deep, organic, moving music, and with a simple array of sounds. There's not much to be gained if you sit and put all your attention into this album... just let your mind wander over it. This music will coat your thoughts, coat the room in which you sit, like a sweet and hazy syrup. Sometimes the moods provoked are cold and a bit foreboding, other times they are glorious, vast and grand. This stuff is over 20 years old, but I guarantee it will still move people who hear it today for the first time. In a word: essential.


August 5, 2003
referencing Trances / Drones, CD, Album, RE + CD, Album, RE + Comp, RM, XLTD 001, XLTD-001

Taken from a series of 'sleep concerts' this double CD is a great showcase for Robert Rich's more meditative and mysterious works. From the insect noises and haunting gamelan of 'Cave Paintings' to the hypnotic sound of waves on 'Seascape' this album is a real journey for the mind and for the spirit.