- Audio CD (Feb. 8 2005)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Enhanced, Hybrid SACD, Live, Import
- Label: Festival Distribution Inc.
- ASIN: B00077CYL4
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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Richter 858 Enhanced, Hybrid SACD, Live, Import
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The music from Richter 858 was originally commissioned and recorded to accompany a book of paintings by Gerhard Richter, which was only available in limited quantities back in 2002. Tony Reif of Songlines decided to rescue the recordings from obscurity, and re-released them in early 2005. The band is Frisell on guitar and delay, Eyvind Kang on viola, Jenny Scheinman on violin, and Frisell's old bandmate Hank Roberts on cello. The pieces were directly inspired by a specific painting, and recorded live to two-track with no editing or overdubs. In the booklet are thoughts and guidelines given to Frisell by producer David Breskin and an interview on the subject with Frisell, and they shed a great deal of light on the process of how this music was created. Since art is, of course, a subjective thing, you may or may not feel that the music directly relates to the paintings, but there's no denying that this is a fascinating project. The majority of the songs are built on simple repeated figures, and the players all seem free to embellish and improvise on top of that. Frisell's delays play a major role in this music (Breskin points out that Richter's technique of applying a squeegee to wet oil paint is analogous to Frisell smearing notes by manipulating his delay), and the way he uses the delayed guitar signal to complement, and in some cases mimic, the strings is quite amazing (remember, this was done live with no editing). It's been years since Frisell has made such extensive use of the delay, but he's still an absolute master. There is also a minimalist quality to the pieces, but the interplay between guitar, delay and strings keeps them from becoming static. Most of this album is quite serene and beautiful, although there are a couple of hairier moments. The paintings themselves are also reproduced in the booklet, and also as enhanced content on the disc itself, which is encoded for Super Audio playback. This is a very interesting new sound for Bill Frisell, and apparently this band is developing more music together outside the scope of the original project.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com
I had no idea what I was getting. It is a group of musical pieces (tone poems?) composed in response to a group of paintings by Richter. The liner notes include pictures of the paintings. When I plugged the disc into my computer, two CD icons came up. One was a typical icon for musical recordings, and I copied that into my computer memory. The other icon produced a slide show of the paintings, full screen on my computer display and they were beautiful. At the same time the music played in my computer speakers.
I have not the musical vocablulary or knowledge to describe the music. Some of the liner notes compare it to Philip Glass. The first cut starts as (to me) pure noise. But the left side of the picture is kind of chaotic and jarring. This moves into other, kinder sounds.
Each painting is different, and each of the eight musical reactions is different. Rarely did I hear any kind of melody. But they are all interesting and worth replaying, while carefully looking at the paintings.
this week i bought richter 858 and put the cd immediately on my player and continued doing things around the house. what i didn't hear during my previous listening: frisell's cd reminds me of of miles davis' bitches brew and later cds of miles work, aura and siesta, with just a touch of frisell's rock.a.billy hokey music, there, i suppose, as frisell's signature.
frisell's cd's have never topped my list of jazz guitarists. however, this one is worth consideration. definitely an excellent addition to electronic jazz.
The opening is two minutes of electronic distortion, skittering extended techniques on string instruments and oddball humor. Delightful. Out of that emerges a strumming guitar followed by Ivesian melodies by the string section.
I recently remarked in a review of a Dresser-Uitti CD that I felt that creative improvised music was experiencing a string instrument renaissance. Part of that renaissance is a renewal of interest in the string trio/quartet as a medium for improvised music. Early efforts in that renaissance were made by Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, Julius Hemphill and Oliver Lake (of course- that particular quartet of individuals started the music off in so many directions). In the last decade, Tristan Honsinger and Ig Henneman have made fascinating contributions to the quartet form while the Arcado String Trio and the Amsterdam String Trio have explored a nearby sonic world.
The delight of this particular CD is the conceit of using Frisell's guitar and electronics in lieu of one of the traditional violins. The other players are Jenny Scheinman on the violin, Eyvind Kang on the viola and Hank Roberts on the cello. The eight pieces are inspired by eight paintings in a series by Gerhard Richter. The CD's booklet has very nice reproductions of the paintings and interviews with both Frisell and producer David Breskin who oversaw the whole project. The interviews tell you much about the creative process that was involved.
I find this to be mostly a very successful piece of music. I was trying to be precise earlier when I mentioned Ives. The last few years of Frisell's career has been defined by an immersion in and a reimagining of Americana. With this CD, he gives American folk sensibilities as much of a tweak as Ives did in many of his pieces. The results are both familiar and oddly disturbing. Part of the reason for the disturbing quality is the way the geography of the sound is spaced. Frisell is in the center and the other three are heard through and around him. Frisell uses plenty of space of course so he does not dominate the sound but the result is that his playing frequently emerges seamlessly out of the playing of one of the others.
My only beef with the music is the electronics. One of the problems I have with electronics in music is that occasionally they almost always remind me of cheap sci-fi movie special effects. I know this is nothing more than my weird quirk but there it is. This occurs for me on the sixth piece. From Ives to Star Trek in a single musical phrase. I am just getting too old for that sort of juxtaposition.
But this is a minor and personal criticism. I enjoy this CD everytime I have put it on. I hear something new every time. And every time I feel a delight in the fact that my beloved string quartet format is being renewed. My thanks to Hank, Jenny, Eyvind and Bill.
Thanks Songlines for putting this out, and for doing such a comprehensive job in presenting the project.
The sounds are more discomfitting than are RIchter's paintings, it is that RIchter is seen through the ears of Frisell. The sounds are about pain. A pain that flows through the past 60 years of European/USA history. Listen to this, look at the images that affect Frisell's sounds.