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Written bySaien Benjamin

A non-stop rush of textures to lift the soul.

After a long weekend spent driving around the hinterlands of the Western Cape, I found myself tired, hot and slightly irritable (idiots on the roads these days, am I right?) Sitting down at my computer I came face to face with Robot Koch’s latest project, Foam and Sand, which represents a significant departure from his previous work in the electronic music scene. The album, released on Nettwerk, showcases Koch’s expertise in ambient textures and sounds, with emotive swells and lush sonics at every turn, transforming my tired and weary evening into something rich and powerful. I sat back and drifted on the wings of  the album’s second single, “Circle 35,” featuring trumpeter Stewart Cole and evokes the work of legendary ambient horns player Jon Hassell.

Robot Koch (born Robert Koch) is a multi-talented German/Los Angeles-based artist, composer and record producer. His project, Foam and Sand emerged during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Koch was unable to tour behind his most recent release as Robot Koch and his album The Next Billion Years. The project grew organically out of Koch’s experimentation with tape loops in his Los Angeles studio space. His interest in the “beautiful imperfections” of loops collides with his fascination in the intersections between science and spirituality, as well as music and consciousness, results in music that is quite simply divine – melodies, harmonies and progressions that mirror the quiet ecstasies of life and the soul.

While Foam and Sand’s music might sound solitary, Koch brought in several key collaborators throughout the album who add their unique touches to this special music. Berlin-based vibraphonist and Leaving Records affiliate J. Foerster lends his patient sticks to the intrigue of “Circle 31,” while Priscilla Ahn‘s vocals grace the piano-dotted plains of the opener, “Circle 28.” German techno duo Two Lanes also offers a minimalistic spin on their approach to electronic music in “Circle 29.”

Koch basically hit the ground running once Foam and Sand was established as a proper project; he’s put forth multiple releases on his Bandcamp page over the last several years, as his continued embrace of tape loops as a sonic bedrock has led him down a path of pure simplicity. His Nettwerk debut finds him plumbing new depths of gorgeousness, as his interest in the “beautiful imperfections” of loops collides with his twin-headed fascinations in the intersections between science and spirituality, as well as music and consciousness.

Foam and Sand represents a simplification of Koch’s musical process, reflecting his current philosophy that less is more. Koch’s stripped-down studio in Los Angeles compared to his previous setup in Berlin exemplifies this philosophy. By this measure, Koch has offered a bounty to listeners with Foam and Sand, with so much beauty that listeners will have trouble pulling themselves away from its endlessness.

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