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The best is yet to come!

By Robbi  //  Love  //  1 Comment

So I’m back now – its been nearly two years since I started this love album…and then suddenly as I got close to writing the last of the songs along comes an avalanche of music and film projects…

First the Golden Band – Dug Pinnik and I are dear friends, actually every body loves Dug he is an authentic person, probably one the most authentic people I know… I believe Dug Pinnik single handedly created the modern bass guitar sound of rock music – I mean you had Chris squire and John Entwhistle and they had powerful sounds but Dug sank the Titanic – simple as that – his bass sound influenced all the grunge bands, from Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilot, Tool and many more.. – but beyond that – his bass line constructions are quite unbelievable, he has so much funk and groove – there is not much to be said but you have to see and hear it for yourself – anyhow we love each other and love playing music together.

Dug Pinnik and Robbi Robb laying down the Oceon

So we got together for ten days with Butch Reynolds on drums and Kripa on ambient keyboards and Al Swanson on B3 duties and Trent moss on percussion and we toyed around with some ideas. The nights were really dark at that time and the stars were raining hard…and so the stories at night would turn to contemplations on extraterrestrial life, UFOS and Aliens – and so we began to write lyrics and songs that reflected these conversations, we watched documentaries on UFO’s and a lot of the evidence especially the ancient art stuff is very convincing.

Ancient Alien sculpture

1000 year old sculpture of a plane.

So as a result we have created somewhat of a space rock album – which as many know is one of my favorite styles of music. We are thinking of calling the album – a POCKET FULL OF STARS – Though I do not believe most of the UFO stuff out there, I must say alien life is absolutely possible and I hope to meet one alien before I pass from this plane.

Then I decided instead of travelling to Europe every year to play these wonderful little festivals – why not just create cool events out here under the night sky in the style of Duna jam – only 200 people allowed type thing – and so I hooked up with local astronomer Tom O’key and the Joshua tree lake owners and we put together a space rock star party –

1st Space Rock Star Party

I put together a little space rock out fit called The Echo People, and Tom had built these huge screens like drive-in screen size upon which he and other astronomers projected deep space images of galaxies and nebula, it was awesome and we played our brand of spacey music – it was a very successful event. Robbi and the Echo People
Anyhow then my studio got flooded and the black mold came creeping in – and walls had to be destroyed and then my mixing board fried and so everything in the studio came to a grinding halt. Very Frustrating. Meantime I finished editing Eva Soltes’ documentary on Lou Harrison which has been received very well.

Then Eva had me in to work on recording Rohan de Saram –

Rohan De Saram

this was an awesome experience as I was stuck in a the Lou Harrison straw bale house/concert hall for ten days with a master cello playing – watching the depth of his commitment to his instrument; practicing every morning – there were times when he would explain to me why he was playing a piece in a certain way, and though he was talking it to me and enjoyed my curiosity he was also just go through his own mind and reinforcing his ideas – I felt like a young Arthur at the feet of Merlin or Shakespeare at the feet of Dr John Dee – I felt like a little kid sitting at the wisdom shore of infinite possibilities.

pic by Eva Soltes

Robbi and Rohan discussing the Mix

I was so inspired I quit the Echo People because the commitment of the musicians to the craft was a little slack – for them it was like a hobby – music is my life-craft and my life-raft. I still practice scales, modes, arpeggios, harmony and composition virtually every day… – I practice on the toilet, I practice watching documentaries, I practice in the shopping mall while the girls shop for girls things.

Robbi practicing guitar at the mall

Kripa thinks I am obsessed – it’s a beautiful obsession…and watching Rohan – with his white hair and his antique cello – I know I too want to grow old with music, besides, my guitar playing is just getting deeper and deeper as I get older and become such and awesome adventure I can almost understand why people do cave diving; it is a lot like that – cave diving in the musical mountains of consciousness. This metaphor also works for why I love my improvisational bands best – with no arrangements known before we start to play we follow tunnels to caverns ever deeper – beyond gravity and breath – yet every detail filled with silence and distance.

Kripa and myself finally finished the Ted Quinn album, which he was so grateful for he changed it from being a ted Quinn solo album to calling it Rock Art. I mixed and wrote a few songs and engineered the album and Mark fuller mastered it.
Here is a little video we made: Rock art – Robbi with ted Quinn and Kripa

Then there was an Asylum kids re-union of sorts when Steve and Dino came out for 3 days and we did some tracking – this was a real treat. The Asylum kids were and will always be a great rock band.

Asylum kids 30 years later

One thing I am very excited about is Kripa’s project – Her music is growing into a most innovative project.. There is no music like this nor has there even been anything like this, and this is a thrilling experience – more on this later. – Finally the universe has answered my cry for good musicians who want to work hard and long at getting things right and going beyond our limitations and making sacrifices needed to get these things done. I am now surrounded by a gang of excellent musicians and fun loving people who are out-working me and pushing me to greater heights. – The music never stops – but more on that later. Now I must get back to working. The best is yet to come!


Amritakripa, beloved muse and first mate.

By Robbi  //  Amritakripa, Love  //  9 Comments

There comes a time in every musician’s life when, like in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the wind dies down and the ship stands idle -- “like a painted ship upon a painted ocean” and prayers are deterred by a “wicked whisper” that makes his heart “as dry as dust.”  A “weary time,” as the Mariner growled with hoarse voice….”a weary time.”   At the height of the Mariner’s dark time, a prayer arises from his depth, and he blesses the slimey creatures unawares. It is this spontaneous blessing that causes the wind to blow and bring his ship back to shore.  For me the spontaneous blessing came as ” a dew of immortal grace,” which is the meaning of the word Amritakripa.

Here is the story:

The first piece of music in this little documentary is an instrumental piece we just finished called ‘The Stirring’. The next music is a short excerpt of a song from Kripa’s second album, ‘Dancing Lotus’ -- the song is called Shakti.  The final piece of music, in which Kripa is drumming, playing keys and singing, is the first piece about the viking boy.  In this piece Kripa and i attempt to create the strange viking harmonies by singing a single note that remains constant even across the chord changes while the melody of the lead voice  follows the chords.

In the final black and white shot of Kripa and myself (a moment captured by Andre Wilms) Richard Stuverud is seen in the background -- his image and the image in the lyric are perfect together  “the seaweed lies like dripping hair, upon the rocky shore” -- nice coincidence.

On a final note -- i remind myself,  my friends and Saraswati, the goddess of music that it was the Ancient Mariner’s own actions, by his decision to shoot the albatross, that brought upon him and his shipmates  the “weary time” -- and so i do not blame anyone for those, my days of weariness in the doldrums that brought my ship to a painted ocean. In truth i am now even grateful, for out of it came the sweetest of all blessings and the dew of immortal grace!

Shine on!


Hear Richard Burton read the Rime of the Ancient mariner. This is my number one CD of all time.

Incidentally it is this reading that inspired the song Ice Below

A commentary on The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner:



Lalena; The Girl

By Robbi  //  Love, The girl  //  12 Comments

The Girl

I would so love to call the girl Lalena after the Donovan song that Deep Purple covered.  But it seems no matter how you sing this beautiful name it has Donovan all over it.  So for now she is a nameless mystery.  But in my secret place she is called Lalena.

I think the album begins with a song about her and touches on elements of her world.  It is a full moon night – she is going through a Luna retreat alone on the sacred hills a little way from her village.  The villagers are of course partying with songs, exotic dancers, wines and sweet wines that foam! She alone, in the sacred hills, enters deeply into the mystery of the Moon Magik, under the guidance of the High Priestess of her Clan.

The song describes the mythical qualities that surround her life and how she feels about them.  In the video you see I have only a small guitar part to begin with as I start to write the lyrics.  By the end of it the song has developed really nicely with a solemn chant and an exhilarating penny whistle piece.  This penny whistle – is a first for me!


Breathing of time is scented for her now / Floating on the blossoming sky / blowing through the days of flutes and anklets /fanning the poets lit fire / and the beggars bowl is filled with a spring dance/ laughingly scented for all / these are the days of melody and welcome / upon the leaves of a song

On these sacred hills alone she wanders / Moonlight entangled in her hair / The jewels on her brow sparkle like dancers /  Silk, soft and fair / These are the ways she must reach for her wisdom / Healing for all to bear /  The truest of treasures, the softest of pleasures / Before the dawns gold aire…

Since this album is written in mythological style and manner with regards to channeling the lyrics (dream-speak) rather than intellectually carving them, the words are naturally rich with symbols. For example the moon in ancient wisdom represents the subconscious mind, memories, and psychological patterns; it also pertains to the emotions.   The hair on a person’s head symbolizes what that person’s thoughts are radiating -- their “mental aura” so to speak…so we have a lovely image in the lyrics

‘moonlight entangled in her hair’.

This simple phrase captures the idea of the contemplative Luna magical workings she is entangled or absorbed in.  The prize of this sort of spiritual practice leads to “the truest of treasures, the softest of pleasures”; there is nothing more subtle, or more blissful than consciousness awakening into super consciousness.

Those of you who have some experience with Tarot and alchemical symbolism will immediately recognize the formula for the making of the “gold” which is imbedded in the story of this album.  The secret to making gold lies in the alchemical wedding. Only atheists and fools really believe the alchemist gold is a solid material. Those who know -- know, that there is no such thing in the entire universe as a ‘solid particle with fixed properties.   These are some of the ideas hidden within the concept of this album

Please share your insights.




Venus in Moon: photo art by Kripa

Moon card lifted from:

Art card lifted from:




Love, the making of.

By Robbi  //  Love  //  27 Comments


This album will be my first  solo album.  Although I am the music director for  the band tribe after tribe the approach to this album is something altogether different. Firstly tribe after tribe is “african acid rock” based and considered to be one of the pioneers of world rock.  So in a sense when i write for tribe i keep these african rock parameters in mind so that there is some kind of continuity between albums. For this album the challenge will be to stay away from my africanisms.  As a musician i have always been interested in ethnic music of the world,  i have studied turkish music, Indian music, classical baroque , jazz and i play many different instruments from various cultures. My deepest relationship has been with the Saraswati Vina.  ( i am waiting to grow up so i can approach the Rudra Vina next)

Robbi with the vina

Also I am blessed to have had some wonderful music teachers in  my life from Mike Dickman to Mrs Moss (trinity college in south africa) from Alan Kwela to Alan Weinberg and many more.

So now with the making of the Love album i am venturing into three realms of music that i have not used in a rock context before namely -- celtic music and music of the vikings ;  then applying baroque fugal techniques for  the arrangements.   Unfortunetly there isn’t much viking music to draw on -- we do know that they used flutes made of bone and they had hand drums.

Viking flutes

Viking flutes

Modern commentators describe the melodies of the Vikings as “eerie,” because the harmony is one that is unfamiliar to modern ears. The strangeness of  the singing of the Vikings, has been compared to the howling of wolves or dogs. Though their melodies are beautiful,  the major third was regarded as a dissonant interval in the early Middle Ages in Europe because most European music at the time utilized Pythagorean tuning, which gives pure fifths, but very nasty thirds.

Here is a pic and score of one of the earliest Scandinavian pieces of music discovered.

Viking score

Viking score





The text reads:

“i dreamt a dream last night
of silk and fur.”

It is the oldest preserved piece of music known in Denmark.

Here is pic and score of an earlier piece of music that scholars believe sheds light on the music of the vikings.

De la borde

The hymn is written for a two-voices  in the Lydian mode and harmonized in parallel thirds. This is known as a parallel organum in thirds, one of the earliest polyphonic forms. In the northern parts of of Britain,  the people who inhabit these parts use a similar kind of singing in harmony  but with  only two distinct melodies and parts, one murmuring below, the other charming the ear above. Since the English do not generally use this manner of singing,  it is believed that the vikings, who often occupied these parts of the island brought this special manner of singing to the northerners.  So on this album you will hear this stylistic idea being used especially on the first song about the Boy who is from a Viking Ship.

De la borde

One source of viking musical evidence comes from  a book written by Jean-Baptise de la Borde, Essai sur la Musique Ancienne et Moderne. In his book, Borde included five tunes to Old Norse texts, which he said were “as they today are sung in Iceland.” Iceland being so remote maintained the language of the Vikings almost unchanged up to the present day, The melodies seem  to be similar to the hymn. The strange thing about these melodies is that they  circle around the major third and the tune only goes one note above and one below, so that the entire range is within a fifth.  Again this motive will appear often throughout this album

The music of the Girl and her clan is based more or less on Celtic ideas where i hope to get some intense Bodhran drumming in.

The Story of Love

The Love story is about two soul mates who have incarnated on parallel universes. He is from a Viking clan and she from a Gaul clan. The vikings have arrived at her island which causes much grief to the islanders. Meantime our lovers longing for each other will create a worm hole of sorts through which they will meet up for a few minutes.

The entire writing and recording of this album will be documented on video. Many times you will see me begin a song from scratch having no words or chords. Other times you will see me using my “dream-speak”  technique which involves me singing from a sub-conscious place and then writing down what i have sung afterwards. These are things i usually do in solitude and in the privacy of my studio  -- so now you have it.  I hope you enjoy witnessing this process.

Join tribe after tribe page on face book or  tribeaftertribemusic channel on youtube to get the latest releases of the video documentary and more.

shine on.