Cloud Ornament CD Cover
RELEASED: July 5, 2024
ARTIST: Robert Rich and Luca Formentini
LABEL: Soundscape Productions
Cloud Ornament

Robert Rich and Luca Formentini

Cloud Ornament


We began by clearing an open space to observe our mutual voice, an hour or so of empty form. We then carpeted that space with a continuum of transitioning clouds, where patterns of light and shadow might suggest possibilities of ornament, the placement of furniture in a room. Listening intensely to each other’s inquisitive gestures, shapes evolved from the liquid flow. Architectures emerged from under an ocean. As each shape suggested itself into existence, it requested further adornment. A strange forest of living sounds wove its branches around that scaffolding of hermetic silence.

Recorded 2023-2024 at Soundscape, Carmel CA USA and Luca’s studio near Lake Garda, Italy. © 2024 by Robert Rich (BMI) and Luca Formentini (SIAE). Edited, mixed and mastered by Robert Rich. Luca Formentini: acoustic, electric, fretless and Moog guitars, Monome Norns (  Robert Rich: Haken Continuum, Prophet X, TEO5, flutes, piano, gliss guitar, landscape recordings ( Aui Formentini: contrabass on #8. Paintings by Robert Rich. Design by John Bergin (




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Luca Formentini on Cloud Ornament

Cloud Ornament is not a continuation of For Sundays When It Rains, it explores territories beyond our previous map. It touches different lands and languages, and a more expanded concept of time. Our dialogue got deeper thanks to a gained familiarity with our respective vocabulary and accents, allowing us to be less explicit, weaving lines that sometimes fade into obscurity, and take life in the unexpected.

The album had birth as a single track of over 60′. Its movements originated spontaneously, allowing the ideas made of different musical ingredients to find their own place. Ideally it should be listened as a single song. Splitting it into different sections came as response to a practical need based on modern listening technologies.

Robert’s unique sensitivity for embracing the listener with wide layers of sounds while keeping connected with undulating engagement creates the perfect situation for me to contribute to the whole: adding tiny details, as thin lines on a wide and dense canvas. This is a precious opportunity for me to connect to a very essential playing, like floating on empty space.

I wanted to offer my guitar playing reduced to the bone, unadorned, shamelessly naked. I sometimes allow my playing to be less precise in its form, sometimes intentionally hermetic when expressing the musical idea. I was curious to see what would reach Robert’s sensitivity, which ideas would assert themselves as being worthy to come forward into the light.

This is how my spirit lives in this collaboration: it is the space to observe each other’s silence, digging around it to expose the shapes of what would otherwise be lost.

Robert Rich on Cloud Ornament:

Luca and I share a common interest in organic gesture, and in the sorts of expressive accidents that could only happen when we allow room for improvisation and experiment.  I love Luca’s uncanny willingness to expose his tone and performances with unadorned and naked truthfulness. Each of his chiming notes and fretless passages etch a crystalline detail onto the blurry beds that I often use to start my ideas. This textural contrast led me to the words “Cloud Ornament” to describe exactly how I hear this complementary relationship of tones.

One of the hardest places to start any artwork is the empty page. As a painter might spill coffee on a blank canvas to inspire directions, I sometimes begin a project by populating a blank timeline with abstract drones or soundscapes. If a chord or mode begins to imply itself, I follow the suggestion without mental filters. Then, quickly, without overthinking, I might slide bits around to create a continuum of sound. This forms the soil from which plants might sprout, where digging and shaping begin. Nothing is precious at this point, but intuitive and slightly unconscious.

I offered this beginning to Luca, and he responded by planting flowers of gestural guitar, offering them up for ornament upon that cloudy background. Slowly we responded to each other, sending files across our distance. Then briefly, Luca’s travels took him to my studio for a few days so we could work together, as quickly as possible. With shared stories entrenched, we again separated and finished the project at a distance.

This music is about itself. It follows its own logic, and suggests its own meaning. We tried our best to stay alert to the music’s requests, listening and responding, assisting its arrival and staying out of its way. The result surprised us both: a sensory excursion into curious emotions and evocative windows.

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