The Wave-Sounding Sea
In sleevenotes to Richard Lainhart's 2001 release Ten Thousand Shades Of Blue, his composition teacher Joel Chadabe recalls that when they first met, at the start of the 1970s, the question in the air was, "what were the special musical things you could do with electronics?" Lainhart's answer, Chadabe continues, was "a new kind of constructivism based on sounds that are only about themselves and their transformations". The resulting music may be self-referential, but Lainhart's enduring interest in natural processes - water flowing, cloud patterns, the play of flames, wind moving through trees - provides a ready parallel for the way he works with processes in sound.
All four pieces on The Wave-Sounding Sea were recorded at the State University of New York, Albany in 1973 and 1974, using the state-of-the-art Coordinated Electronic Music Studio System developed by Chadabe in association with Robert Moog. The title track is a darkly pulsating Morton Subotnick-influenced soundscape, brooding and non-human. With Iron Hill Lainhart found his own voice. It was the first realization of his One Sound concept, which delivers what it says, a 12-minute organ-like blast, massive but teeming with inner life. Snow is a very different One Sound composition, brittle and closely focused, situated ambivalently between shortwave sferics and crackling ice.
The remaining track, FM Automat, is an experimental exercise, a discontinuous series of electronic events generated using a single frequency modulation patch. Its effect resembles casting your eye across related shades in a color chart. Lainhart's mature work has something of the appeal of Eliane Radigue's music, constant yet discreetly developmental and secretly rich in detail. The Wave-Sounding Sea shows him working towards that.
Julian Cowley, The Wire 317, July, 2010
"Lainhart crafts sounds in a tonal, musical fashion - sustained tones, drones, melodic fragments - and electronically manipulates them into beautiful tapestries of sound."
"Once in a while, we find an artist whose clarity of vision enables him or her to transcend the limitations of technology, and whose youthful music elicits the same response as their contemporary creations. One such artist is Richard Lainhart, who has been a pioneer of electronic music for over thirty years, creating complex and ever shifting sound worlds from the gamut of available instruments."
— Exerpt from "Electronic Drifting: The Music of Richard Lainhart," a review on www.furthernoise.org.
"However, Richard Lainhart closes the proceedings on a high note by revisiting his own "White Nights" (1974) - originally a half-hour, "glistening" drone according to Fischer«s own article about the composer
Excerpt from review of "I, Mute Hummings" EX OVO CD by sonomu.net
"I, Mute Hummings" EX OVO CD - Workmanlike Ambient compilation from a new label set up by Tobias Fischer and Mirko Uhlig, each of whom contributes a remix to the nine track collection. Mostly steering clear of New Age slop (though not always - step forward, ex-Tangerine flautist Steve Jolliffe), it's rewarding for the variety of approaches it showcases. ... Finally, Moog pioneer Richard Lainhart contributes a remixed excerpt from his gorgeous 1974 drone piece "White Nights", which manages to suggest both Tony Conrad's violin overtone marathons and the tape loop section from "Close To The Edge". I know that's the second Yes reference in this interview, but it really does.
Keith Moline, The Wire, March, 2007
"Composure also seemed to be a strength of Richard Lainhart's music at the Experimental Intermedia Foundation April 6. Just as Suzuki maintained his curiosity throughout an evening of experiments with sound, Lainhart maintained a tone of quiet warmth and even reverence throughout three tape pieces, each a half-hour or so long. They seemed to grow more peaceful and profound as they went on, and justified titles like "Bronze Cloud Disk" and "Cities Of Light", which seemed to evoke feelings that can't quite be named, and suggest music I might rather imagine for myself in silence than trust most composers to compose."
Gregory Sandow, Village Voice, May 27, 1981
"More successful aesthetically because the system worked were tone essays by Richard Lainhart, who transformed Chadabe's program into an Eno-ish wash of sensual tone decays. Soft chords formed a suspended background for loud attacks that took an eternity to die away, and the aptly titled "Ten Thousand Shades of Blue" diminuendoed into ambiguously bittersweet dissonance. A more industrial-strength work, "Paint Test Area", smashed together repetitive patterns of heavy, rebounding noises. The Russian and Italian Futurists of the 1920s would have given their right hands to produce sonatas such as this, and had they seen Lainhart achieve his results with only the tiniest of finger movements, they would have dropped dead from envy."
Kyle Gann, Village Voice, January 10, 1989
"Richard Lainhart was seduced by the possibilities of sound at an early age after hitting the low E string on a bass guitar. Since then, with a background that encompasses electroacoustic composition and jazz vibraphone, he's evolved a singular vision as a composer, performer and engineer of darkly seductive minimalism; this 2 CD set compiles six pieces from 1975 to 1989.
The first three pieces here subject various sound sources to similar treatments; long tones are stacked upon one another, filtered and pitch shifted to provide rich, glassy drones. The harmonies are loose, ambiguous; sometimes sunny, major tonalities peek through to be subverted by dense note clusters that flirt with dissonance.Though the music has the unlocked, semi improvisational quality of some of Brian Eno's or Robert Fripp's work, Lainhart's background suggests a more rigorous compositional approach rooted in the minimal dronescapes of Pauline Olivieros, Alvin Lucier or even Tony Conrad.
The results are very much Lainhart's own; 'Bronze Cloud Disk' (for bowed tam tam) coaxes subtle harmonics into a glacial mass of gently shifting drones centred round a single note. Listened to at low volume, it purrs away innocently enough; up close under headphones, it's a different animal, intense, metallic and a bit scary. 'Two Mirrors Face Another' uses the pure sinetones of bowed Japanese temple bells; again at volume it's a bit unforgiving, the tones almost too pure to engage.
The later title track and 'Staring at the Moon' use an algorithmic sequencing packageto generate semi improvisational soundscapes, joined by vibes on the latter piece. Though the harmonic devices remain pretty much unchanged, the softer, recessed electronic textures and a greater use of silence offer a deep listening experience that rivals the best flotation tank. The ear is invited to zoom in on small details, registering tiny perceptual changes, picking up on faint sonic vapour trails as they drift out of audibility.
The closing 'Walking Slowly Backwards' is a quietly virtuoso performance for solo vibes; Lainhart draws long drones with the bow while coaxing gentle rolling swells with the mallets. This piece has some of the crystalline beauty of Harold Budd's Pavilion of Dreams, shot through with a darker, chromatic hue. Rewarding, engaging music that's worth your time."
Peter Marsh, BBCi