Richard Neale jams 10 songs into 20 minutes on Deep Blue (Part 1). You can chuck about a minute and a half out of the mix, that time covered by four tracks that roll in under 30 seconds and don’t feel like they offer much outside of their use as demarcation points between the main tracks. The exception is the short piano piece, “Nc3 dxe4,” which, at a minute-forty, at least feels complete. What remains is quite strong stuff on the border of experimental music, pumping with energy and interesting treatments. “Your Move” has a bit of an Art of Noise feel hiding in its vocal samples. It’s an effective and deceptively simple track with layers of loops circling over a strong drumbeat. Fresh elements shuffle in to change up the tone and keep it interesting. If you can get past the music-box twinkle of “EPCOT” and give it a minute or so, it transforms. Opening as a kind of study in tonal contrasts, it first pairs the chime tones with a short, repeating piano phrase and a rising wall of drone. That cuts out and the track becomes a more energetic, minimalist thing with the chimes taking on a sequencer feel against frenetic drums. One more shift brings the piano back in, and the track zips toward its close. Neale hits his stride late in the album. “Wonky Beatst” is a pulse-driven piece filled with cool tones and a jazzy beat. Neale immerses his piano sounds in a murky resonance that makes it feel like it’s just a little ways off, and keeps it there. He adds layers again, always smoothly, and keeps the energy up consistently. “Ax” begins quietly, then abruptly slams the throttle to full and a hard-hitting base note. Give that a few moments, then cue the noise. Neale drops in a huge wash of over-amped sound that lands like a weapons strike, then plays with bringing it all in and out at varying times. Just a big, meaty track that demands extra volume.
There is some very listenable stuff on Deep Blue (Part 1) and with this being, I believe, Neale’s first foray into our area, having come from the folk world, it leaves me interested in hearing more from him. I do think there are some rough end-edits hiding in the mix here that briefly bugged my ear, and while I’m sure the short pieces served an artistic purpose, they were small bumps in the flow for me. Check it out for yourself, certainly.
Available from Bandcamp.