Richard Swift has made a handy and quaint little reputation for himself as a talented singer/songwriter. "Kisses for the Misses," I let it speak for my life. If his songwriting continues to grow as it has grown, he's going to wind up being our generation's Randy Newman--a need our generation sorely needs. What is neglected by those who talk about his music is that Richard Swift is something more than a talented singer/songwriter: he's also a studio composer and arranger, a side heretofore unexplored on his records.
Instruments of Science & Technology: Music From the Films of R/Swift will piss off and confound some of his fans. I can't put it any other way. Other than the excellent Heldon-style rock of the ironically-titled "Inst," the album contains no vocals, and even then, those 'vocals' are merely sampled from an instructional exercise record from the 1960s. The rest of the record consists of brief instrumental passages that are intertwined and connected to make a thirty-minute whole. The songs range from rock freak-outs to drones, from gorgeous melodies to mind-numbing repetitive rhythm tracks.
You can't really appreciate the record on a track-by-track basis; taking it apart takes away from the record, and single tracks don't really seem to make much sense in a standalone setting.
I like this little diversion--I think.I have to be in the mood to listen to it, that's for sure. It's been a while since I've heard a record that's really challenged me to change my perceptions of its creator, but this record has certainly done so. I do admit, though, it's nice for an artist to release something as radical as this record. Somewhere, though, I think Richard is smiling about it all; challenging an audience is what a good artist does, for an artist that does not introduce his audience to new ideas is an artist who misses an opportunity to expand minds. Good job, old bean.
Listen To: "Plan A & Plan B"
Instruments of Science & Technology: Music from the Films of R/Swift is available now on Secretly Canadian
Labels: Instruments of Science and Technology, Richard Swift, Secretly Canadian