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FRANCIS, RICHARD (ESO STEEL) - Warmth

Format: CD
Label & Cat.Number: CMR 26
Release Year: 2012
Note: solo-album by the ex ESO STEEL from New Zealand, working with modular synth & field recordings mainly, creating a hissy but refined drone-ambience full of little details, somehow between improvisation & composition....
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €13.00


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"Recorded Jan - Feb, edited Mar - Apr 2012 in Auckland. Equipment: modular synth, computer, field recordings, looper, edirol recorder. Each piece is like a vignette, riffing on memories and impressions of brief sound moments heard in my surroundings. (Richard Francis)." [credits]

"Following his involvement with 'Erewhon Calling', a book on the New Zealand underground music scene (see Vital Weekly 846), Richard Francis embarked on a small tour in Europe, to record and play music live, among other things to celebrate his release with Mattin, which we no doubt will review soon also, but also to point out he has a new solo CD. I was able to observe his small but very flexible set-up at a very close range. A modular synth is fed into a laptop, where it is processed on the spot through a whole bunch of plug ins, free software and such like, and field recordings are waiting to further transform the material. Richard told me that more and more he breaks away from layering the cake, i.e. putting pieces together through a time consuming method of placing them in a multi-track program, and rather sketches out a few ideas for a 'song' (his words), of which he records various takes and then selects the best one to release. That may seem also a bit time consuming, I should think, but apparently he usually does four or five takes, or else abandons the whole idea. A relatively easy set-up, but it works wonderfully well. In these hands it gets melted into a fine, delicate mass of sound. Not necessarily, however, of a very quiet kind. The static and hiss that opens 'Rivet' is surely more noisy than you would expect. Richard Francis plays minimal music, in which a few sounds meander about, a tick, a crackle, maybe one or two drones. This music has an interesting vibrancy - not exactly composed, but perhaps also not entirely improvised anymore, but falling somewhere between the cracks of improvisation composition. It's music with a delicate tension, music which has indeed a certain amount of 'warmth', as the title says, but perhaps that refers to the summer period January-February 2012 when this was recorded. It's perhaps a bit short, with twenty-six minutes, as I surely would have loved some more of this, but nevertheless, it's a great CD." [FdW/Vital Weekly #849 (25 Sept, 2012]