photo ©1996 by Brad Cole
In some ways, Amoeba has been a work in progress for over 20 years. Robert Rich and Rick Davies have worked together since 1980 on projects as obscure as the glurp-trio, Urdu, and the compellingly unlistenable Quote Unquote. On each project they found new timbres and common ideas, but their vastly different trajectories made it difficult for them to focus their efforts into a coherent recording.
As Rich's solo recording career took flight in the mid-eighties, they parted ways. Davies indulged in several bands including the Calm (with ex-Swell drummer, Sean Kirkpatrick), Truth In Advertising, and the Los Angeles-based ambient group, The Telling.
In 1992 Rich formed the first incarnation of Amoeba with David Hahn (guitar), Matt Isaacson (drums), and another Urdu survivor, Andrew McGowan (bass). In this configuration Amoeba recorded the 4-song EP-CD, Eye Catching, which Rich released through his company, Soundscape Productions. Unfortunately, the band never developed as a performing unit and it disbanded in 1993.
In 1994, Davies described his work on an album of slow-motion ambient folk songs to Rich, who suggested forming a new Amoeba as a platform for a new collaboration. Over bowls of pho', Rich and Davies worked out a plan and recordings commenced in March.
The new songs had little in common with those of 1992's 4-piece Amoeba. The new tracks evolved from a core of Rich's home-brewed percussion and flute loops and layers of Davies' bare-bones guitar. Although the new Amoeba's musical roots were acoustic, the production included hundreds of hours of sequencing, digital sampling and mangling using a hybrid of direct-to-disk and linear tape recording techniques. After completing the basic tracks, Rich brought in cellist Hans Christian, Telling percussionist Don Swanson, and saxophonist Scott Wright to complete the spectrum.
Finally, in November of 1995, Rich mixed the 11-song Watchful and the search for a compatible label began. They decided to work with a new label based in Durham NC called Lektronic Soundscapes. In April of 1997, Lektronic Soundscapes released Watchful . After some glitches in distribution, Amoeba moved the album over to Release Records, which re-issued Watchful, as well as Robert's early Trances/Drones.
Amoeba began working on a new set of songs in 1998, after Robert completed some more solo work. They finished the work for their latest CD, Pivot, in the Summer of 1999. Pivot is now available on Release Records.