Time Travel







Wind & Wire
- Review by Bill Binkelman

Richard Bone

     Richard Bone is a god - let's be honest about it. How else can you explain him recording four albums as good, and yet as different, as Electropica, The Spectral Ships, Coxa, and now, Etherdome, all in the course of just two years? I have used up my thesaurus on this guy. I have no superlatives left. Oh well, time to repeat myself.

     The man of a thousand (musical) faces has released Etherdome, a stunning ambient album. Leaving behind the darker shadings and noir textures of his earlier The Spectral Ships, Richard traverses into warmer and more spacy territory. Sounding like a hybrid of James Johnson, early Jonn Serrie and the more electronic side of Tim Story, Richard creates a emotionally soothing yet sonically challenging collection of songs that somehow are vintage Bone yet also refreshingly new. (Damn, I gotta get a better thesaurus!).

     Song titles are deliciously obscure (at least to me) but the music contained on Etherdome is wonderful. The album opener, "The Induction of Gilbert Abbott," has floating piano-like notes counterpointed by swirling lush washes of synths and synth choruses. It's a classic space music track for sure. "Unawakened" begins with some quasi-Tim Story minimalism, as a subtly muted electric piano and synth entertain a delicate yet beautiful simple refrain, soon joined by low key synth strings. As the album progresses, songs continue in a relaxed yet never soporific vein. Trust a genius like Richard Bone to record an album that can be this serene while still infusing the music with enough "quirkiness" (sorry, couldn't resist) to keep it away from any new age noodling or over-the-top relaxation excesses. How does this guy do it?

     Of course, this wouldn't be Richard Bone if some stuff here wasn't really unique (the idiosyncratic "The Letheon Men" which is about as dark as this album gets - and that's not very dark). On several cuts, for example, "Peripheral Nerve" with its subtle semi-vibes, the astute listener may even pick up shadings reminiscent of Coxa. "Lucidity Soul," likewise, could also be a cut on Coxa, but slowed down - way down! "Plateau to Level 30" does have a small amount of spookiness to it, with its use of "breathing" effects, but later in the song major key synth washes bring the song back into safe territory. "#5E5E5Ewake" is, perhaps, the best cut on the album. With two different minimal piano lines and underlying gentle synths, it just fills the air with pure ambient bliss!

     Since this is a Hypnos label release, it's sonically perfect with excellent mix and top-notch production and engineering, as well as label head Mike Griffin's characteristic starkly beautiful CD layout and design.

     In case you haven't gleaned this yet, Etherdome gets a super huge thumbs up from me. Positively a "must get it NOW" for all ambient lovers and, in my opinion, space music fans as well. Richard, I'm beggin' you. Please. Do not release any more masterpieces for awhile. I gotta give my brain a rest from coming up with adjectives. Could you maybe do a Partridge Family tribute album - there's no way that even you can salvage that, or can you?

- Bill Binkelman -