Time Travel







Wind and Wire
- A Review by Bill Binkelman

Richard Bone

Only Richard Bone, the king of razor sharp wit and playful musical whimsy, could pull off releasing an album of mostly electronic music, played almost entirely on analogue keyboards and modules, and name the album after a Buddhist temple in Singapore! This is the conclusion of a trilogy which also includes the lively world fusion rhythm-tronica CD Disorient and the neo-psychedelia of the trippy The Reality Temples, and it’s a fitting climax to the saga of incorporating Bone’s vast assortment of beats and rhythms with various and sundry waves of synthesizer melodies, reverbed piano, and characteristic touches here and there that make this an unmistakable release from the hallowed halls of Quirkworks Laboratory. Not as frenetic as Disorient and not as loopy as The Reality Temples, Saiyuji is the most accessible member of this trio, frequently warm and inviting (no doubt aided considerably by Bone’s use of both analogue synths and digital piano) and with beats that are usually slower and less emphatic.

From the opening track, “By Any Other Name,” Bone sets his sights at making this a pleasant and easy-going trip, even when rhythms erupt from opening ambient-esque origins, as they do here (shuffling beats emerging amidst piano and ebbing/flowing whistling synths). The combination of some of Bone’s best ivory work set against an assortment of textures, washes, and vintage flights of analog bliss, make for a solid opening. “Saiyuji (Dawn)” first introduces the world music flavors that will pepper some tracks with a hint of the Middle and Far East, both through the use of exotic wind instrumentation and ethnic (sampled) hand percussion rhythms. “Oblique Heaven” heads for a strange yet fascinating and ultimately satisfying mixture of glitch-like beats with retro EM elements, set off by sparkling reverberating bell tones. One of the more vintage-sounding tracks is “My Delicate Star” on which chugging analogue sequenced keyboards percolate underneath flowing washes that ooze patience and serenity, even while spacy FX introduce subtle SF spices. This is one of Bone’s most lovely pieces in recent memory, as it washes over the listener with wave after wave of electronic warmth. Spacier by far is “Improbable Earth” which harkens back to the older Bone projects, namely Etherdome and The Spectral Ships, with its opening ebbing and flowing warm drones, but then heads for more peaceful waters with sparse dual pianos and retro SF electronic blooping in the background. “Saiyuji (Dusk)” revisits the previously similarly-titled track’s motifs and refrain, this time tweaked to up the tempo to a faster pace and altering the influences from the predominantly Gamelan-like first version and turning it into more of global fusion effort (resembling the music from The Reality Temples).

In addition to the music tracks on Saiyuji, Bone has also included two video MPEG files: “By Any Other Name” (for which images of a rose are treated to an assortment of visual enhancements) and “Improbable Earth,” (this video appears to be an object suspended in a substance, although it’s so indistinct that guessing what it is would be pointless).

Richard Bone continues to display his vast technical skills in the electronic music genre even while he more deeply explores and then evolves his work on previous recordings. Saiyuji offers more proof, as if any is needed, that he is a unique composer and performer, someone who steadfastly refuses to repeat himself or be content with anything resembling the ordinary.

Bill Binkelman