|Few composers today explore so poetic and visionary a musical landscape as Eric Richards (born 1935). Richards has been composing, in his own unassuming way, for more than forty years. The works included on this recording span the latter half of that time period (roughly 1983–2003).
Richards creates his sound world from a collage of musical fragments, saturating the musical time canvas with various nuances and shades of instrumental color. Through the juxtaposition and superimposition of different facets of the same instrumental material (in different tempi, played backwards, in different patterns of repetition, and at various levels of transposition), he creates a multilayered composite sonority—one single enlarged and magnified instrumental entity. His approach is not unlike the technique of assemblage practiced by the surrealist painters.
In his willingness to experiment with sound for its own sake, without constraint by accepted formal or technical procedures, and in his invention of new rhythmic and textural effects as well as his innovations in musical notation, which parallel the originality of his musical ideas, Eric Richards is an important extension of the American Experimentalist Tradition—one that includes composers Henry Cowell, John Cage, Morton Feldman, and James Tenney.
The majority of compositions on this compact disc recording exhibit timbral saturation and, as such, emanate from a single instrumental sound source (11 oboes, 72 clarinets, 5 voices, 3 pianos). A single performer using multi-track recording techniques is featured on each of the individual compositions. Many of these compositions depict different perspectives, facets and planes of instrumental sound as they simultaneously evolve in different time planes. This is manifested in the simultaneous layering of contrasting and often unrelated dimensions of time and memory within a single composition. When listening to Richards’ music, one often has the sense of being dislocated in time.
Alan Zimmerman, cowbells; Kay Stonefelt, gyils, vibraphones, and tingsha; David Keck, bass-baritone; Paul Schiavo, oboe; Greg Purnhagen, baritone; Paul Marquardt, piano; Molly Paccione, clarinet; Eric Richards, whistler
final bells (2002–04), time’s racing (2000), My Great-aunt Julia (1993), Conch Music (1983–84), harte’s bels (2001), The Bells Themselves: Jonathan Edwards and the American Songbook (1997–99), Chicken Pull (1989-92)