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  Dick Richards  
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Tired of paying for music, but scared the R.I.A.A. will sue you into debtor's prison? Well, EvilSponge has the hookup for you. There are plenty of free "releases" on the web, if you know how to look.

One series that i have enjoyed is NoType's Sine Fiction series. This is a collection of avante electronica interpretations of science fiction novels. A wacky idea, but you get some great music out of it.

I have reviewed 4 separate Sine Fiction downloads. Check the "Related Links" section after the review for more of them.


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 the screaming.

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 really.

For now though, Dick Richards has turned in an impressive and very contemporary work that is highly listenable.

Related Links:

4 Sine Fiction Releases have been reviewed here:
Sine 004: Foundation by Julie Rousse (after Isaac Asimov)
Sine 005: Dhalgren by Dick Richards (after Samuel R. Delany)
Sine 008: The Nine Billion Names of God by Oeuf Korreckt (after
             Arthur C. Clarke)
Sine 012: Deus Irae by Mystified (after Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny)


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