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"A splendidly panoptic aural adventure with all trademarking earmarks and superb sound quality."
The choice of “Apogee” as the title for the album's closing piece clearly wasn't accidental: its lilting, lullaby-like opening represents some of the loveliest music I've heard from the composer and does represent a certifiably high point on Pale Blue Dot.
My love of ambient music dates back into to the mists of time mainly from the genius that is Brian Eno and others, here Robert Scott Thompson steps lightly on that very same path and turns up and absolute gem of an album in Pale Blue Dot.
The opening track Perigee is very much in the style of Eno and reminds me greatly of the Ambient 4 series back in 1980. Thompson's skill here on keyboards is utterly amazing in bringing us a little space filled element, that we can literally imagine floating at the Perigee, (closet point to the Earth from a Satellite as in the moon) and from those blissful layered synths, we can just drift on an ambient haze of incredible music.
Trajectory is an altogether a horse of a different colour, the pronounced dramatic tones fill our senses, we can be aware through the music that a feeling of movement is taking place. Robert Scott Thompson creates here a sense of a build-up of power and intensity, as a point of Trajectory has been locked onto. The energy in this track is defining and enticing, the bass and sequences manifest an ever growing construction of sheer genius.
It’s sad that at the time of writing this, one of the pioneers of ambient and electronic music in Isao Tomita has just passed away, he would have been incredibly impressed with this album and this next piece called Slow Rotation, this track once more not only emphasises a sense of movement, but also the very wheels and cogs, wires and buttons, that go into that perception of kinetic energy. The arrangement manifests us a visualization of a satellite changing position in the vast oasis of space.
At the half way point of the album we come across a really breath-taking composition called Skyway. One really feels from the very opening tones that we are heading right for a stellar nursery, the delicious light passages in this piece are sublime in creating just the right atmosphere, the soft notes and sounds and keyboard give us a true impression of being part of something so vast it is unfathomable.
Now comes the artist’s big moment, as we head right for the title track, Pale Blue Dot. This quite astonishing work of art is not just stunning in its creation; it is a veritable opus of creative talent. The sheer depth of the music is completely immense and awe-inspiring. The creation of a long form composition can be fraught with the danger of over doing it, but Robert Scott Thompson takes us, that constant listener, along with him all the way and like the album as a whole, this track is one that you won’t and can’t press stop too, a quite brilliant arrangement indeed.
From our Pale Blue Dot, we look out at the night sky and wonder at the heavens above, the constellations have always fascinated me, and this lattice work of the stars is quite overwhelming at times. Robert Scott Thompson now produces a piece called Latticework to describe this actual network of the universe and does it with amazing style. The gentle introduction is soon left behind, as we hit into a track that has a sprightly energy about it, the sequences establish with musical ease a visible Latticework actually forming within our very mind’s eye, ever growing, ever expanding across this amazing space filled galactic vista.
The penultimate piece is called Lunar Idyll; this has to be one of the most beautiful tracks off the release and at times reminds me of the Eno album Thursday Afternoon. Robert Scott Thompson for me on this piece has created some of the finest work I have heard from him, this is deeply moving, but almost inter-dimensional in its flow and energy, simply put, stick me on a desert island with this track alone and I would be happy for years, now I wonder if Robert would do us fans a 60 minute version?
Our last point of reference on this sojourn with the artist is called Apogee, this composition has a such a picturesque and exquisite nature about it, this too moved me with its splendour, Robert Scott Thompson’s ability to manifest such a deeply felt track, an arrangement of supreme calmness is quite staggering, this is one track that I think dear reader and listener you will want to revisit many times over, the piece seems to have received that little magical touch that only a true master can give it, simply superb, all sixteen minutes of it.
We have now established a safe orbit with our Apogee, so it’s safe for me to reflect on the album, I do believe this is the finest collection of tracks I have heard so far from Robert Scott Thompson, he has shown me depth, passion, creative genius and artistic manifestation at its best and at times layered a deep level of emotion into the compositions that gives it a really personal feel. There is simply nothing to dislike about this release and as such this is wholeheartedly recommended by me to be part of your ever growing musical collection.
Steve Sheppard (One World Music) - June 8, 2016
"Pale Blue Dot" is electronic musician Robert Scott Thompson's esteemed debut for Anodize. Thompson has distinguished himself by refusing pigeonholing despite a fine pedigree within genre, those genres often intersecting between pallid ambient, focused minimalism, cubist space music, electroacoustic hybridization, sparse rhythmic exercises, and all points in between. Throughout a career spanning decades boasting a formidable back catalog to boot, Thompson continues eradicating stylistic boundaries by simply refusing to stay put—experimentalism writ honest and large. Nearly two years in the making, "Pale Blue Dot" reveals yet more eclectic sonic broadband from Thompson's nomadic muse.
Robert Scott Thompson's music has been reviewed in textura's pages many times over the years, with Pale Blue Dot by my count the eighteenth such recording to have received coverage. Yet without re-acquainting myself with all of those previous releases, I'm willing to wager that this latest one, his debut for Anodize, must be one of the best; at the very least, it shows that the electro-acoustic composer's music has reached a remarkable level of maturity and refinement. Recorded at the Resonance Observatory in Atlanta, Georgia in 2015, the seventy-eight-minute collection offers a superb summative portrait that for anyone coming to his music for the first time provides an excellent point of entry. (For the record, it bears worth mentioning that a few pieces earlier surfaced on Thompson's Aucourant Records set Summer Idyll, a collection of out-takes of material produced for releases on Relaxed Machinery, Dark Winter, and Aucourant as well as Anodize.)
A Professor of Music Composition at Georgia State University when not producing electro-acoustic works, Thompson devoted two years to the project's production and used analog and digital synthesizers, digital signal processing, and software synthesis to bring it to its final form. Exemplifying his maturity as a sequencer of sound, the album's eight pieces, ranging from six to sixteen minutes, unfold in a way that feels natural and organic; he's also developed an acute sensitivity to sonic density over the years, and that too is reflected in the album's arrangements. In some pieces (e.g., “Slow Rotation of Stars”), multiple layers are used to give the music depth and dimensionality; in others, such as “Lunar Idyll,” Thompson strips the material to its essence, confident that only a few elements are needed to serve his compositional needs and achieve the desired effect.
Previous textura reviews have drawn parallels between him and Eno, and it's almost impossible not to do so here as well. Like his better-known counterpart, Thompson's developed the ability to create ambient settings that obviously unfold in time yet still suggest stillness, plus there are moments on Pale Blue Dot where the generative-styled character of the material also invites the comparison. In such cases, the track in question could conceivably continue on for an hour rather than sixteen minutes. The crystalline title track, for instance, unspools at the most leisurely of paces, its meditative, nomadic flow of string plucks, piano chords, and synthetic washes seeming as if it could go on forever.
The release presents different facets of Thompson's music-making. Cases in point, “Skyway” calls to mind those classic Harold Budd-Eno collaborations in the way minimal piano playing drifts through an ice-covered locale where frozen trees shiver in the breeze. “Latticework,” by comparison, catches one's ear in featuring a brighter array of sounds than we're used to hearing from the composer, the piece's metronomic patterns in this case suggestive of a whirring music box. The choice of “Apogee” as the title for the album's closing piece clearly wasn't accidental: its lilting, lullaby-like opening represents some of the loveliest music I've heard from the composer and does represent a certifiably high point on Pale Blue Dot.
December 2015 (Textura)
Prolific US soundsculptor Robert Scott Thompson, based in Roswell, Georgia, has landed with his latest album on Darren Bergstein's Anodize label. Out since the beginning of November 2015 in simple, but elegant 4-panel digipak in limited edition of 50 copies. Unfortunately, as far I know, the album is sold out already at Anodize's Bandcamp shop, but few copies of its promotional CDr version with different artwork packaged in standard jewel case and released in edition of 20 copies might be still available at Robert's own Bandcamp account along with the digital version of "Pale Blue Dot".
8 and a half minutes long "Perigee" unfolds the journey with expansive nuances, meandering through enigmatic terrains, reinforced by choir-like drone tides counterpointed with contemplatively mesmerizing chimes, phantasmally high-pitched shimmers and gently dissonant glimpses. Strangely disturbing, yet hauntingly encircling piece. "Trajectory" is slightly shorter than "Perigee", but it safely remains on the mysterious path with weirdly cascading structure highlighted by intangibly winding clickety-clacks, panoramically reverberating dronescapes and sinuously brooding cello-like patterns. "Slow Rotation Of Stars" dives straightly into more cacophonous, although minimal fields, bridging myriad of swirling crystalline effects with sparse poetic piano, while peculiar clouds are hanging above, then metamorphosing into poignantly introspective slowed down electro-acoustic tempos, sluggishly charged, distinguishly twisted and bizarrely ear-tickling amalgamate precisely exhibiting creatively unique insignias of its protagonist. "Skyway" is announced by translucently glimmering subtleties, which soon coalesce with minimal, yet deeply evocative piano motif, while gently mindscaping blankets are riding atop with occasionally emerging mild fragments. All the exquisite colors of deeply touching minimalism are masterfully revealed in this composition!!! The title track "Pale Blue Dot" clocks over 16 minutes and shifts into more intriguing route, when meticulously blending contemplative layers, quietly cacophonous elements and expansively embracing essences. Another distinctively sculpted and highly refined piece, certainly a truly gorgeous longing horizons await here each attentive ears. Well-done, Robert!!! "Latticework" starts with quite strange intro, but soon converting into lushly colored scenario guided by highly polished tinkling melody persistently painting hypnotic-driven images, while labyrinthine sonic scraps permeate here and there. Another big one and the track title is precisely chosen too!!! Just put your headphones on, it's a true, 6 and a half minutes long revelation!!! "Lunar Idyll" moves into gracefully immense realms, although some celestial ghosts are hanging above and trying to steal this tranquil oasis, before transmogrifying into relaxed texture merging poetically engulfing piano passages, balsamic laid-back drones and gleaming parade of titillating nuances. Nearly 11 minutes of relatively minimal soundcarving, yet extraordinarily perfumed, strikingly evocative and flawlessly entitled!!! "Apogee" immediately attracts with its utterly lyrical character, where gorgeously undulating heartwarming piano notes masterfully commingle with sweeping cinematic washes, organic traceries and contemplative chinks. And again displaying a thrillingly sinuous soundscaping across the full length of 16 minutes. Obviously one of the pinnacles on "Pale Blue Dot" and a grand finale!!!
As usual for Robert Scott Thompson, this highly accomplished sound architect is playing his own league, a first-class of course. Sure, 78-minute "Pale Blue Dot" is not your easy listening ambient session, but with each new dedicated listen you keep on encountering new rewards, new filigrees, new glitters. It's more and more fascinating!!! A splendidly panoptic aural adventure with all trademarking earmarks and superb sound quality is delivered here by Robert Scott Thompson's infinite wizardry. The alchemy master at the very top of his craft, that's "Pale Blue Dot"!!!
Richard Gürtler (Feb 24, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)
The term musical alchemist best describes modern music composer Robert Scott Thompson. Combining his mastery of the
electroacoustic, contemporary instrumental, and avant-garde genres into a swirling cohesive whole, he is an important pioneer on music's new frontier.