About Desert Realms
Rudy Adrian‘s Lotuspike debut, MoonWater, was a beautifully crafted study in deeply serene and contemplative soundscapes. His follow-up release, Desert Realms, follows that same stylistic path, exploring the spectacular stillness and vast landscape of the American Southwest desert.
Explains Rudy, “I was fortunate to spend a weekend exploring The Arches and Canyon Lands National Parks in Utah, USA. My tour guides were electronic musician Robert Carty and his partner Patricia Sandoval, who showed me a number of their favourite locations in the North American desert. On returning to New Zealand I became interested in creating music inspired by that journey.”
Rudy’s compositions are by themselves both vast and serene, but an additional level of emotion is provided by the poignant and moving flute expressions of Nick Prosser on a few of the tracks. Prosser’s stirring musical statements interact with Rudy’s vast soundscapes, filling the spectacular sonic vista with just the right amount of life and feeling; reminding the listener that although the desert realms may appear at first stark and barren, they are in fact full of life and captivating beauty.
New Zealand based synthesist and composer Rudy Adrian has a number of releases to his credit, and having only heard one of those, which was for the most part a gimmicky rhythmic sequencer based sprawl not unlike later period Tangerine Dream, it certainly didn't prepare me for the intensity and stunning ambient beauty of the floating ambient gem at hand. As suggested by the title, the music herein was inspired by time Adrian spent in the desert lands of southern Utah, though honestly if I hadn't read that in the credits I might not have known, as this could just as easily be inspired by a journey to the depths of the ocean or a soundtrack for intergalactic space travel. Only the thunder at the beginning of ‘Cloudburst’ and the introspective flute work that follows, or the bird sounds on closer ‘Edge of the Desert’ might offer any hints. But that's not meant to denigrate it, just lend an observation to its universal character and Adrian's masterful command of this form of composition. The shimmering layers of synth colorations and sparkly glacial evolutions of sound that mix and flow together over the duration of each cut make for a truly celestial listening experience. The program is broken into eleven discreet tracks that each have their own character apart from all the others, but seem to share a common conceptual vision. This is stirring, emotive, psyche opening music of the highest order.- Peter Thelan, Exposé Magazine (issue 37)
Finally, two years after his nice ambient album ‘Moonwater’, New Zealand-based musician brings us the follow-up ‘Desert Realms’.
The music of the cd is inspired by a weekend Rudy spent in the serene,remote and expansive desert landscapes of the American Southwest back in 2002.
In that respect, the eleven tracks on the almost 70 minute album form a sonic sketchbook of the grandness and immense stillness embedded in this barren but spectacular region.
The 7-minute ‘Saguaro Silhouette’ is a great opener with Rudy’s wordless, aerial vocals and slow drifting sonic layers. Here, one can almost feel the heat of the desert closing in. It is followed by the short but lofty ‘Pathway’ which sees Nick Prosser complimenting some nice Baroque flute.
The eight minute title track is the first highlight with its smooth, soft shimmering soundscape magic. Both ‘Circling Hawk’ and ‘Fading Light’ nicely continue the meandering, Eno-esque textural stillness, after which ‘Subterranean River’ aptly ventures underneath the desert landscape. The atmospheric ‘Cloudburst’, sees Mr Prosser add his flute magic another time.
The next three tracks, all clocking at eight minutes, form the absolute highlight on the album, venturing in peaceful space territory (’Starlight’), while ‘Of Clouds and Mountains’ and ‘Rocks under Moonlight’ stunningly capture the real essence and haunting beauty of the natural surroundings of the desert landscape.
The 3-minute beauty ‘At the Edge of the Desert’ features sustained Harold Budd-kindred piano and nature sounds, bringing things to an end.
All in all, ‘Desert Realms’ is a very nicely rendered sonic vista, highly recommended for fans of desert music.- Bert Strolenberg, Sonic Immersion
New Zealander Rudy Adrian has quietly amassed a respectable back catalog over the years, mostly for the Netherlands EM label Groove Unlimited, caressing a wide range of styles, from the aforementioned ambience of his earlier Lotuspike release Moonwater to the more rhythmically buoyant, sequencer-intensive calculations found on Kinetic Flow and Starfields. Many an electronic musician has found inspiration in landscape, going as far back as Eno with his benchmark On Land (amongst numerous others). Desert Realms apparently stoked Adrian’s muse from his touring in 2002 of Utah’s otherworldly terrain, a land of stark, epoch-scored vistas, incorporeal climes and steep grades. Tracks such as the opening ‘Saguaro Silhoutte’, with its wordless chants and upwardly spiralling drones, and the shifting dusky synth reverie of ‘Fading Light’ are well-wrought, impressionist fantasies that manage to succeed independent of their earthen analogs. Being a longtime enthusiast of Adrian’s work, there’s little doubt that he’s a composer and synthesist of significant charge, yet, as satisfying as Desert Realms is, I’m not convinced that the grand landscapes he seeks to evoke are mirrored in the final constructs. Regardless, there’s some quality work here: ‘Subterranean River’ benefits from a blur of bells and shimmery percussive accents smeared into a widening maw of synth; ‘Of Clouds and Mountains’ feels like water vapor coalescing gently in a chilly morning sunrise, similar to Thom Brennan’s opalescent tone poems; ‘Rocks Under Midnight’ likewise allows delicately rubbed electronics to vibrate and pulse throughout its many diaphanous layers. Conceptual illustrations aside, Adrian remains a composer of no small measure—coaxed from a minimal array of soundmakers, Desert Realms is a laudable work of abject beauty.- Darren Bergstein, e/i Magazine, installment 24
His acclaimed live performances and the ever-ascending quality of his recorded works have made Rudy Adrian one of the most distinctive voices in the ethereal music genre. His talent is in picking just the right sounds, arranging them in unique combinations and rolling it all out in an always-engaging collage of music and atmosphere. This process stems from personal experience or inspiration, as on his CD Desert Realms (69'28’). The nine tracks are each an electronic expression of his beloved rugged desert landscapes, and the connection we as humans feel toward the natural world. The first few tracks feature tones played on native flute or originating from Rudy Adrian's own atmospheric vocals - mixed amidst hushed synth pads and ceremonial bells. The synthetic and acoustic textures go together very well and result in compositions that feel transcendent yet tethered to earth. Throughout Desert Realms harmony and timbre mutually reinforce each other. Faint chimes cast above luminescent chords provide a slow contemplative pace while reverberant strings (as if breathing) shift from dark keys to light. The experience is quiet and beautiful, like that of Spacemusic classics by Jonn Serrie, Michael Stearns and Kit Watkins. Most times consoling, but occasionally questioning, Desert Realms is a nuanced journey into both sonic and terrestrial landscapes.- Chuck van Zyl, Star's End
Inspired by a weekend tour of North American deserts in 2002, Desert Realms finally comes to fruition in this 11-track, 70-minute set. Two tracks feature Nick Prosser on Baroque flute, adding to the desert theme and sound. This is a mellow Adrian set, devoid of the upbeat sequencer passages that he often creates.
Instead, a very specific mood is conveyed throughout, and as such this is probably Rudy’s most cohesive thematic work, although he certainly has done similarly focused efforts, most notably The Healing Lake. Slightly dissonant bells carve out a unique beginning on ‘Saguaro Silhouette,’ accompanied by gentle synth textures and wordless vocals. I’ve lost count how many of Rudy’s CDs start with soft vocals like this, but it does fit with the overall theme.
‘Pathway’ is one of the two tracks featuring Prosser, and his flute is joined by light tribal touches, very nicely done.
The title track is an excellent example of Rudy’s dreamy style of ambience; the eight minutes seems to pass by quickly and easily.
‘Circling Hawk’ brings vocals stronger into the foreground, likely creating the desired effect but it is easily my least favorite on the album.
‘Fading Light’ fares much better, a subtle delicate Eno-like floater.
The slightly discordant bells return on ‘Subterranean River’, surrounded by dark echoes of sound. ‘Cloudburst’ consists of rolling thunder, rain, and flutes, again capturing the desert imagery quite well. The next three tracks make up over a third of the disc, and they are the most ethereal yet, and the strongest portion of Desert Realms. Chirping birds ‘At the Edge of the Desert’ bring the journey to a pleasant end.
Rudy Adrian is a New Zealand based musician, though this album of ambient soundscapes was inspired by his travels to the American west, specifically the spectacular canyon lands of Utah. His main tools are synths and samplers, plus the talents of Nick Prosser who provides treated Baroque flute on a couple tracks. I'll be honest, for many listeners this album will fall too much into the New Age category with its dreamy and etherial sonic excursions, though to my ear there's none of the drippy melodic romanticism associated with New Age to make that label stick. I'm instead reminded of the many practitioners who also operate in the realm of ambient soundscapes for the mind, such as Robert Rich, Michael Stearns, Steve Roach and Kit Watkins recent work, to name a few. Some pieces (’Desert Realms,’ ‘Starlight,’ ‘Rocks Under Moonlight’) fall firmly into the Hearts of Space territory, though most have a strongly naturalistic bent as they aim to evoke the stark and majestic expansiveness of the landscapes that inspire them. Adrian uses his own voices on ‘Circling Hawk’ to evoke the Native American presence in the region, and shimmering cicadas and bird song to give ‘At the Edge of the Desert’ a richer tableau. The set avoids the Berlin school inspired sequencing of Adrian's past work, though given the earthy inspiration – and the results – this was a good move. In all, this is a wonderfully meditative yet evocative set and highly recommended to ambient fans.- Paul Hightower, Exposé Magazine (issue 37)
Last year I already focused on monumental space odyssey "Distant Stars" by this highly respected New Zealander, now it's time to re-explore another of Rudy Adrian's masterworks and strongly notable desert wanderings. Inspired by his 2002 trip with exploring The Arches and Canyon Lands National Parks in Utah, "Desert Realms" (released in 2008) is absolutely fascinating journey through breathtaking sceneries of arid and rugged desert landscapes with eroded sandstone forms and canyons. It starts with "Saguaro Silhouette", a very calm and dreamy ambience nicely flavored with Rudy's expressive wordless voice magics. And as much majestic as this large, tree-sized cactus. I really like the way the voice is used to support the overall feel of this composition. On the next piece, "Pathway", Rudy brings back his frequent guest, Nick Prosser, who is responsible for baroque flute wizardry on few tracks. Flute magics are wonderfully balanced with Rudy's soundscapes. The title track, "Desert Realms", is absolutely peaceful sonic medicine, a truly mesmerizing trip perfectly corresponding with its title!!! Slowed-down tribals with tinkling bells and poignant voices are heading "Circling Hawk", a deeply evocative composition! Follow warmly floating "Fading Light" and nostalgic "Subterranean River", the later beautifully enriched by mournful bells and submerging organics, another stunning ambience! Sounds of thunder and rain and Nick Prosser's highly sensitive flute work nicely color the next remarkable piece, "Cloudburst". "Starlight" is another beautifully floating aerial voyage, with deeply serene and mesmerizing effect, for me, one of the masterpieces on this album. But the spectacular beauty of Utah's natural miracles is emphasised also on the next two strongly ethereal compositions, "Of Clouds And Mountains" and "Rocks Under Moonlight", truly captivating late night sky journeying!!! Bird calls "At The Edge Of The Desert" and catchy piano tune bring this masterful album to the end. "Desert Realms" is certainly not only one of the milestones in 12-album discography of Rudy Adrian, but this utterly beautiful and magnificent work could become a memorable classic in desert ambient genre.- Richard Guertler, Relaxed Machinery
To compose the music in this album, Rudy Adrian was inspired by the landscapes of the American Southwest desert. ‘Desert Realms’ certainly takes us to the immense quiet of wide, virgin spaces. The music is an interesting example of Deep Ambient. More than concrete melodies in the traditional sense, there are chords and melodic atmospheres that come and go. The artist achieves an album which turns out to be ideal for meditation. The most impressive piece in the album is, in my opinion, ‘At the Edge of the Desert’, of a mysterious air and a great beauty.- Valeriano Guiol, Amazing Sounds
Inspired by the vast, expansive landscapes of the American Southwest (specifically Arches And Canyons National Parks in Utah), New Zealand-based ambient/electronic composer Adrian has crafted a serene and stately set of audio soundtracks. The opening tracks depict exactly as they imply - 'Saguaro Silhouette', 'Pathway', or 'Circling Hawk' are all richly evocative travelogues of a natural eden. 'Subterranean River' echoes the ebb and flow (and stillness) of the submerged world, whereas 'Cloudburst' brings the life-affirming rains. Adrian's sonorous strings and reverberations are accented in spots by Nick Prosser's Baroque flute, which brings a primitive sense of humanity to the pristine environments. 'Desert Realms' is exactly what the title implies - a set of beautiful, magnificent, and primal soundscapes with a hint of mystery and shadow - ideal for unwinding with or for creating a unique mood to your surroundings. Wonderful work and worth multiple listens.- Todd Zachritz, Goatsden
Engrossing ambient music with plenty of detail to hold the attention. Desert Realms is built around undulating, silken drones of a soft harmonious nature - these underlying forms variously enhanced by a broad range of additional sound: delicate chimes, clanging gongs, meandering vocalisations, suggestions of desert fauna - the blending of organic sound with synthetic is seamless and very effective. The expressive flute work of Nick Prosser drifts thickly across a number of pieces - woody, breathy plumes of melody across the expansive smoothness of the sonic terrain. Percussive aspects are subtle - the distant dull thump of a bass drum, tinkling chimes or cricket chirps - for the most part, however, Desert Realms is beatless and wide open. The music at times drifts like immense cloud movement, at other times stillness pervades - steady tones shifting ever so slightly, birds, flutes dancing in the soundspace or hints of melody touching the air. Water recordings, thunder or bird song assist in establishing an environment in places - working to compliment the mostly serene mood, the feeling of natural peace that runs throughout.
Desert Realms is a jewel case release adorned with suitable photographic imagery. The front cover shot runs across to the rear cover when the case is opened - a striking red rock arch against empty blue sky. Track titles barely distract from the pictorial impact - a light white font off to one side with track times for each piece. Opening up an arid scene of layered stone runs from immediate foreground into far distance - deeply grooved, heavy shadows and bright sunshine in powerful contrast. Here to the top left are brief thanks, artwork credits and contact details for the artist. The remaining page of the insert features an explanation of the album's origins and a gear list for the music. Hidden away behind the disc - a hazy portrait photograph.
New Zealand based Rudy Adrian produces music for film and television as well as developing his own releases. This album comes once more through Lotuspike Records (a part of the Spotted Peccary company) and consists of eleven panoramic soundscapes inspired by the deserts of the American South West. Previous Rudy Adrian releases have also explored a more sequencer based sound with Berlin school influences. The album includes a live performance by Adrian and Nick Prosser from 2001 - Nick's expertly played baroque flute appearing on various tracks across this album.
It’s inspired by a voyage made in the national park of Utah that Rudy Adrian concocted Desert Realms. These desert kingdoms are composed of 11arid musical landscapes carried on warm winds from a synth with heavy and touching layers as well as flutes which transpierce immense dunes of architectural stones.
Delicates shimmered arpeggios open Saguaro Silhouette. A soft wave intermingled with Amerindian vocalizes, just like in Circling Hawk, crosses a desert plain where rattlesnakes bells and Tibetans cymbals wrap an atonal movement. The wind alone offers a light undulation in a sound structure as rich as mystical. A fluty sound floats on slightly anvil percussions on Pathway opening. Here, as on the whole 12th opus from the New Zealand synthesist, the movement is linear and without forms except for few fine modulations which are lurching through the sound memories of Rudy Adrian. Desert Realms is a long peaceful powerful ode of American Western South desert grounds. A title with musical poetry which espouses a structure sometimes dramatic on a synth with breaths a little more seizing as on Cloudburst and its spiral flute. Fading Light is synonymous of tenderness and nostalgia.Subterranean River borrows the same musical paths that one can meet on this arid work. Sound samplings of a desert nature are present on each track, as on the morphic Of Clouds And Mountains and Rocks Under Moonlight as well as on the melodious at The Edge Of The Desert which is completely relaxing with it bird songs.
Desert Realms is an album of a sidereal softness filled of melodious passages that would please to fans of landscapes sounds or to those astral travelers who are able to leave without moving out of their bodies. An album that is very near the floating and tribal worlds of Ray Lynch and Steve Roach.- Sylvain Lupari, Synth&Sequences
Inspired by the vast, expansive landscapes of the American Southwest (specifically Arches and Canyons National Parks in Utah), New Zealand-based ambient/electronic composer Adrian has crafted a serene and stately set of audio soundtracks. The opening tracks depict exactly as they imply – ‘Saguaro Silhouette,’ ‘Pathway,’ or ‘Circling Hawk’ are all richly evocative travelogues of a natural eden. ‘Subterranean River’ echoes the ebb and flow (and stillness) of the submerged world, whereas 'Cloudburst' brings the life-affirming rains. Adrian's sonorous strings and reverberations are accented in spots by Nick Prosser's Baroque flute, which brings a primitive sense of humanity to the pristine environments. Desert Realms is exactly what the title implies - a set of beautiful, magnificent, and primal soundscapes with a hint of mystery and shadow - ideal for unwinding with or for creating a unique mood to your surroundings. Wonderful work and worth multiple listens.- Todd Zachritz, News4U