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Richard Swift’s acclaimed debut double-disc release, The Novelist/Walking Without Effort, introduced us to an artist who unflinchingly mashed together two incongruous, yet uniquely beautiful short-play records. One shimmered with mellow gold; the other, Cole Porter concept record on mescaline. His sophomore effort, Dressed Up for the Letdown, seemed to somehow fuse these separate spheres into a whole; although it perpetuated the feeling for many that this fro-haired wunderkind had more tricks up his suit-jacket sleeves than that Mind Freak guy on TV.
If you think you’ve made up your mind about Richard Swift and what he’s all about, you may be shaken from that perspective once you encounter his new recording project Instruments of Science and Technology and place your copy of the upcoming release, Music From the Films of R. Swift on your unsuspecting turntable. The listener will be greeted with a calming voice offering relaxation advice. “The best way to relax,” the narrator informs, “is to lie down upon your bed and stretch out.” Not exactly sage wisdom, but it sets the stage and prepares the listener for the impending bizarre romp through the outer space of music. For the critical listener, INST sounds like Brian Eno and Wendy Carlos had a love child in the 70’s and subsequently marooned him/her/it on an Oort Cloud. If they had, this might have been the recording their love child beamed back to Earth.
This largely instrumental electronic project may seem out of character for Swift, who has raised eyebrows and turned heads over the past few years for his unmistakably beautiful singing voice, melancholic lyrics and sophisticated songwriting. Taking into account all three releases, it appears that Swift considers the last 80 years of recorded music as his own personal spice rack of musical texture from which to draw and concoct new musical recipes. With Instruments of Science and Technology, Swift has resurrected the earliest forms of electronic music, thrown in a few dashes of dub, hip-hop, kraut-rock, and Motown–and created a new hybrid dish. So fire up the hooka coals, turn on that full screen iTunes visualizer, and pump these jams as loud as your speakers/neighbors will allow.
There are currently no tour dates for Instruments of Science & Technology