Time Travel







Wind & Wire
- A Review by Bill Binkelman

Richard Bone

     Richard Bone trains his wry eye and his wicked sense of musical humor backwards to the psychedelic era of incense, black lights, and the dawning of the West's fascination with East Indian mysticism on The Reality Temples, his latest exercise in funky rhythms, smooth cyber-jazzy melodies and laid back grooves. Once again, he proves adept at producing true fusion music, this time melding ethnic percussion and East Indian musicality (notably, a fair amount of sitar sounds) with his patented mellow keyboards and adding a dash of '60s acid-drenched spices. The result is not as immediately "likable" as some of his previous efforts, but that's because the music here reveals its worth and craft more slowly. Here is an album that you need to invest some time in, as it unfurls its multiple layers (once again, Bone excels at production techniques and engineering) bit by bit.

     "Infinite Oz" starts the album off with lots of panning effects on playful wah-wah guitar, then brings midtempo trap kit drums and bongos into the mix, soon joined by electric piano (which carries the main melody) and some tasteful vibe work. The track has an air of playful mysticism to it, an interesting juxtaposition to be sure. "Between the World and a Wall" is typical of the rest of the CD, as the music has a more overtly "serious" side to it, as well as some subtle Bone-ish winks and nods. Here, he first introduces the sitar-like keyboard that is heard elsewhere on the album, as well as a more snaky and sultry East Indian sound. As usual, Bone adds his assorted keyboards and beats in layers, gradually building up multiple levels of each. A zither-like instrument takes the lead on this cut, along with some great soprano sax and, of course, the typical spot-on blend of organic and electronic percussion.

     "A Boy in the Garden of Gastille" is possibly the most laid back song on The Reality Temples, opening with a languid flute line, joined by panning sitar-like keyboards and ultra-lush strings, eventually featuring a soprano sax lead again. When beats are introduced, they don't change the tone of the piece as much as inject an added element of movement, rather than the earlier drifting sense of peace.

     Of course, this wouldn't be a Richard Bone album without some good-natured puns in the titles, and here we have "Come Back, Little Shiva" a mixture of slow sexy ethnic hand percussion, Eastern sounding wind instruments, and chill-out beats and synths, with the added oddity of what I swear sounds like a conch shell thrown in for good measure. Bone mixes new age keyboards with haunting and mysterious pan-African desert melodies and drums/percussion on "Theme From an Imaginary Caravan" (another sly bit of titling, that one). One of the more lively tunes is next, "Impossible Ships" although it takes a little while to get there. Panned sitar notes, swirling organ chords, and lilting flutes open the piece, with some phased guitar samples. Out of nowhere, Bone throws in these cool retro synths (the type used by, for example, The Who on "Won't Get Fooled Again"), lush orchestral strings, that smoky and plaintive sax of his, and relaxing but emphatic chill out beats. It's a standout track on this solid album.

     There are three bonus mp3s on the album as well: "Absolute Eve," "Tundra," and "Evanjelon." All three offer more variations of Bone's combination of funk, jazz, and cyber-lounge music. "Tundra," one of the more contemporary songs I've heard by the artist, is a delightful slice of English chill-out, featuring breathy female vocalizings (by Jennifer Smith), modern ambient beats, and an assortment of warm keyboards and spacy synth effects.

     The Reality Temples provides ample evidence that Richard Bone is continuing to evolve from earlier efforts, such as Coxa, Electropica, Ascensionism, and Disorient, allowing his music to migrate into previously unexplored territory. Still, he retains many of the elements that have engendered him to his loyal fans, notably his expert integration of electro-organic beats/rhythms with keyboards that combine jazz, funk, and (now, more prominent) world music textures with inventive production techniques and a sly wit. Obviously, the man is far from running out of fresh ideas and I can't see it happening any time in the future either. It goes without saying that Richard's latest gets a "highly recommended" from me.

Reviewed by Bill Binkelman