Time Travel







- A Review by Bill Binkelman
Issue #3

'A Survey of Remembered Things'
Richard Bone & John Orsi

This recording is a unique joint venture. It’s not a collaboration. The two electronic/ambient musicians “share” the CD, each taking his turn to produce some very interesting and (almost) uniformly excellent music.  

Richard Bone’s “suite” is named ‘The Seashore of Other Worlds’ and it’s a great collection of songs that show off how electronic music doesn’t always have to be somber and foreboding. While not “happy” music, Richard uses his keyboards and electronics in a way that may surprise you. On “Chango” a midtempo beat is established with electronic percussion while low key synths arise in the background. A melody line appears played by a muted calliope-like sound. Some of Richard’s songs remind me of a lighter version of the rhythmic stuff that Aphex Twin did on
Selected Ambient Works Volume II. However, Richard Bone is definitely an original.

“The Paradigm Pool” removes some of the lightness from the previous track. Once again the song starts out floating, only to have a polyrhythmic series of beats emerge, balanced out with spacey and mysterious synth washes. It’s kind of like a 21st century dance exotica from Mars. This is some of the most infectious ambient/electronic music to grace my player in quite a while.

It may be a reach calling this music ambient-dub, but I don’t know what else to call the presence of rhythm here since it’s not of the sequencer heavy-duty German variety. It’s--well, it’s funky. Not as in funk, but as in “this is pretty funky!”

“Mercurial Wave” has less of a rhythm presence, as it floats along with a nice blend of some chime-like note, very low bass synth notes, and gentle washes of sound. A light graceful melody begins, played by quasi-piano sound. This song may be my favorite on the CD.

“Komarov’s Fire” brings a mid to fast tempo rhythm to the forefront immediately. Again, there is a piano-like melody, this time joined by a nicely-layered synth chorus. The rhythm really kicks in after a while with synth drums. If you can resist moving your body (take your pick which part) while sitting down, you have more control than I do. The song is infectious as hell and just begs to be cranked up.

Things really quiet down with “Evaporata” as Richard brings his “suite” to a close. Despite the overwhelming preponderance of electronics, there is a lot of warmth to these songs. It’s also more human sounding that you’d expect from an electronic music album. It doesn’t have the “spaciness” that some dub has. It’s a great collection of songs.

John Orsi’s set of four songs, called “Shiftworkers Confused By Rain” (you gotta love that title!) is a more ambitious, but slightly less successful, series of works. On the opener, “Ai de Li,” mid tempo percussion is joined by a simple repeating line on a synth piano. What mars the song for me is the presence of a voice-over beneath the music. Actually, it’s not very beneath. It’s kinda right there. Maybe some of you will not find this as distracting as I did. I’d bet that whatever is being said is important to John (hell, it may be John at time, for all I know), but it really puts up a wall for me that keeps me from getting into the music.

“In A Toy Room” starts off in a jazzy vein, especially when compared to the rest of the CD. Again, sampled sound effects detract from the music, in my opinion. I’m sure this all means something to John, but it’s a mystery to me. The music is nice enough without it, although I think this is the weakest track on the CD. Have no fear, though, since the song is less than 3 minutes long.

John closes out the CD with two solid efforts. “Broken Ballet” is spacey electronic heaven, counterpointed by minimalist piano. After the frenetic nature of the previous song, this one really hits the spot. It’s somewhat sad and melancholy and all too short for how beautiful it is. John brings in some very tasty synth strings, used in a creative way, later in the song.

John’s last song  is “Rain Delay” and it’s another solid effort. There is strong rhythm presence developed in this song, quasi-jazzy at times, but also dubby at others. When the synth strings come in, the song just blossoms. What was just “okay” or “good” becomes “pretty damn cool.” For me, I wish John had done four songs closer in nature to the last two of his “set.”

Richard’s part of the CD clocks in at about 26 minutes (excluding a bonus track at the end of the CD) while John’s segment is about 14 minutes. Yeah, it’s not the longest CD in the world. So what! These two guys have released a quality piece of work. While not everything was to my liking, what is there is so damn good that I recommend it without reservation to fans of electronic music. As for the two songs by John that I didn’t much care for -- well, maybe you’ll like them better than I did. And if not, that’s what the old remote control is for, isn’t it?

This is true independent artist music, and as such, I’m behind it one hundred percent. I hope you will be too.

- Bill Binkelman -