I started off my journey into the Sine
Fiction series with this. It's actually the
5th Sine Fiction release, and is a set of songs designed
to accompany Samuel R. Delany's bizarro classic, Dhalgren.
I will freely admit that i have never made it all the way through
Dhalgren in one go. It is a complicated, strange
novel. Besides, it's supposed to be circular, meaning that you
should be able to start at any point, read to the end, start
at the beginning, and read up to where you started, and it will
all make sense. I dunno about that, but it features some lovely
prose, and makes for interesting literature. Personally. Stars
In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand is my favorite Delaney
novel, but Dhalgren is the one he is known for...
Anyway, i downloaded this "album" because of the Delaney connection,
and it's pretty darn good, really. I know nothing of the artist
(i am afraid to even type "Dick Richards" into a search engine),
but he does some fine work.
The first piece, Orchid (Intro) is a short interlude
of ominous synth sounds. It builds nicely, and then explodes
into Bellona, which matches a certain tensenes with loping
mid-tempo beats. It is as if in the background, half heard in
the noise, there are people screaming uncontrollable. As if
you are sitting somewhere and just faintly you can hear people
undergoing agony. Creepy, especially so as the beat in the foreground
plods along, intent on getting wherever it is going, and ignoring
Lanya is less song-like in that there is no melody.
This is avante noise that seems to convey the feeling of a being
lost in crowd. Shoes clatter on tiled floors and walkways, as
if a crowd is travelling somewhere. This is followed by Denny
which is an eerie and creepy song built out of half-heard samples.
Funk guitars, sawing strings, and computer beeps are all buried
under a mass of tremolo and distortion. No sound is heard in
it's entirety, which is troubling after a while.
However, apparently Dhalgren gets more upbeat
after that. Scorpions has a really nice beat, and in
fact would do well on the dancefloor. This is a good loping
tune, with scattered drum hits, a thuddding synth bass, and
skittering computer noises. It's a really good IDM dance tune.
Up until thos point, i have enjoyed this release, but most of
it has been ambient and wierd, whereas this is a good song that
i think might even appeal to ravers and the like (as opposed
to sci-fi geeks and ambient fans, like the rest of Dhalgren).
Kid comes next, featuring a nice wavering guitar sample
over a floor thumping bass beat. Other sounds layer in, a clanking
metallic sound, a wavering guitar -- the whole thing almost
sounds dubby at time. And again, this is a damned fine track
with a broad appeal level.
Finally, Mr. Richards ends with Orchid (Outro), which
is a light drone that just fades out. Now, if this album were
done right, Orchid (outro) should flow seemlessly back
into Orchid (Intro) in order to keep up with the circular
nature of the album. I tried listening to it looped a few times,
and it works okay. The tone of the two Orchid pieces is a little
different, but i guess it works. Of course, i'm not really familiar
enough with the novel to verify that it is, in fact, perfectly
circular. (In all honesty, i have a hard time believing it,
but i suppose it is possible.)
On the whole i think this release does a good job of sounding
very sci-fi while still being interesting. That is, it sounds
like contemporary sci-fi should sound, all full of glitch and
strange computer manipulated sounds. However, remember how in
the 50's sci-fi was thought to be the sound of a theremin, and
now we look back on that and go, "What was Roddenberry thinking
-- that's so cheesey!" I wonder if we'll be saying the same
thing about this release at some point in the future after IDM
has run it's natural course. Perhaps -- only time will tell
For now though, Dick Richards has turned in an impressive and
very contemporary work that is highly listenable.