Robert Rich ‎– Trances / Drones

Extreme ‎– XLTD 001, Extreme ‎– XLTD-001
CD, Album, Reissue
CD, Album, Reissue
All Media, Compilation, Remastered

Tracklist Hide Credits

1-1 Cave Paintings 23:54
1-2 Hayagriva 25:13
1-3 Sunyata (Emptiness)
Co-producer [Co-produced By], Recorded By – Ron MacLeod
2-1 Seascape 29:59
2-2 Wheel Of Earth 27:58
2-3 Resonance 12:17

Companies, etc.



Compilation of material originally recorded at various sleep concerts and recording sessions in 1981 and 1983.
1-1 & 1-2 from Trances cassette.
1-3 from Súnyatá cassette. Recorded at Studio M in Palo Alto.
2-1 & 2-2 from Drones cassette.

Tracks 1-1, 1-2, 2-1 to 2-3 © 1983 by Robert Rich
Track 1-3 © 1982 by Robert Rich
This reissue © 1993 Amoeba Music (BMI)

© Extreme 1994, Extreme Graphics.
Extreme Special Editions, marketed by Extreme USA.
Printed in Canada

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Barcode (Text): 7 86908 80012 5
  • Barcode (String): 786908800125
  • Matrix / Runout (Disc One, mirrored): XLTD-001/1 · :MASTERED: :BY NIMBUS:
  • Matrix / Runout (Disc Two, mirrored): XLTD-001/2 · :MASTERED: ·BY NIMBUS·

Other Versions (4 of 4) View All

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
none Robert Rich Trances & Drones(6xFile, FLAC, Comp, RE) Not On Label (Robert Rich Self-released) none US 2016
RR 6455-2 Robert Rich Trances / Drones(CD, Album + CD, Album + RM, Comp, RE) 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) Not On Label none US Unknown


Reviews Show All 5 Reviews

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December 18, 2017
edited 5 months ago
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 7 months ago

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".


December 12, 2005
edited over 12 years ago
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

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.