Info Richard Lainhart - Cranes Fly West 
"Cranes Fly West (Limited Schiphorst Edition 2010)"
by Richard Lainhart
Ex Ovo (EXO004)
"A Bell Above The Clouds"
"A Sense Of Loss"

Richard Lainhart's URL


fn issue October 2011
'N-Plants' - Biosphere
'Sky Snails' - The Electric Golem
'Echo Park' - Willamette
'Gramophone Transmissions' - Broken Harbour
'Negative Space' - Blue Sausage Infant
'Home Patterning' - compilation
'Polychromatic Integers' - Richard Lainhart
'Generate Records' - compilation
'Sung In Broken Symmetry' - Aquarelle

We've heard electronic musician Richard Lainhart playing all kinds of different synthesizers and controllers on various releases, but half of his most recent release, Cranes Fly West on Ex Ovo, is his first appearance to my ears on an acoustic instrument, an 1892 Steinway grand piano. Lainhart primarily considers only the instrument's resonant strings and soundboard, playing the inside of the piano with nine ebows. An Open Window in an Empty Room is only partially accurate, since it was recorded live at a 2004 concert. But there was an open window, and the listener can hear birds singing and people settling into their seats while Lainhart manipulates his electronics. An ebow isn't typically an especially subtle instrument on a piano — it's either on the string or off — but Lainhart gets around this limitation by silently depressing the keys to get only the harmonics that he wants. He revisits the setup five years later on A Sense Of Loss, incorporating a monophonic melody played on the keyboard, first in the treble and then in the bass. The resonance from the individual notes is absorbed into the sustained stream from the ebows and provides the wistful poignancy captured by the piece's title.

The other two pieces in the collection, from 2008 and 2010, are "for electric guitar processed with the Kyma System," which he uses to combine live and pre-recorded sound in extremely unusual ways as he describes in the CD's liner notes. His electric guitar, already highly processed with long digital delays, undergoes spectral transformation on A Bell Above The Clouds using some of his older electronic music as a source. The piece has a strange surging chaos at the heart of a placid, shimmering and slowly changing backdrop, a chaos that makes itself felt more than heard, a pungent spectral overtone, uncanny amidst the sustained harmonic drones. Even more fascinating is the process behind Threshold, which uses Kyma's cross-filtering to modulate two sounds together, in this case field recordings from around New York City (locations listed in the notes) and his guitar. The resulting piece contains the characteristics common to both sets of sounds: "you hear neither directly," he writes. This may be true, but certainly the most audible aspect is the sustained guitar harmonics, with the field recordings providing a continually shifting timbral and harmonic background with ghostly recollections. The irregular shifts between the background planes occurs about every ten to twenty seconds, which gives the music more motion than the other pieces on the album.

Cranes Fly West already has a complicated release history. The limited edition CD was timed with Lainhart's appearance at Jean-Hervé Peron's Avantgarde Festival Schiphorst in July 2010. The label has also released a digital version, adding a remix of A Sense Of Loss by Mirko Uhlig. A regular edition is forthcoming, which will contain only two of these tracks (Open Window and Threshold); the others are bonus tracks for this edition.

Review by Caleb Deupree


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