Richard Bone: Ascensionism

bon-a.jpg (18k) Richard Bone: Ascensionism
(Quirkworks - 2000)

Richard Bone has recently released the final chapter of a trilogy which includes predecessors Electropica and Coxa. Like those discs, this newest is awash in neo-loungey light-heartedness with some seriously grooving attitudes, while unlike the others, Ascensionism assimilates Richard's interpretations of the Kabbalah's mysticism (as filtered through his retrofunky musicality).

The gorgeous Waters of Assiyah flow in on a golden cosmic glow, which soon is overshadowed by the jazz-pulse of a stand-up bass riff, suave ivory-tinkling and tiki-style drumming. Sister Samadhi's choral voices rise through the pattering drumbeats which precede softly dancing synthtones, ambling bass and an accordian-like lead. Twittering birds add an outdoorsy sense to Kavannah's less-swinging, flute, string, drum and piano pastoral.

The groove returns as Bone goes Walkin' With The Dharma Bums (6:09), strutting with jazz-lite guitar and organ sounds and spattering cymbals eventually leading through a muted-conversation-filled space. The percussion and keys of Ascensionism have just an intriguing extra bit of "ripple" which adds to the good-naturedly hip-shaking experience. The bass is pumped up in The Continuing Adventures of Jet Swami, driving the accompanying keyboards to new heights. Like an audio nightcap, a sweet secret untitled track (2:40) awaits at the end of the 45-minute-plus soiree.

Being too straightforwardly musical to be considered "ambient" is not a problem; the pieces are as airy as any backdrop could hope to be, if chosen to be listened to obtusely. My only gripe is that quite a few of the instrument voices (for instance, the brass tones of Ariel Dane & the Seraphim Swing, or flute sounds of Sultry Sally's Meditation Alley which, don't get me wrong, is a very cool tune) seem overly cheesy... While I understand these are retro-homages, and I definitely enjoy a little "cheese", don't forget what the ingestion of too much can cause in some people...

That observation aside, Ascensionism's buoyancy and warmth will delight Richard Bone followers as well as new fans-to-be. Irresistibly "hip" arrangements will stir the blood of all but the most curmudgeonly listener. An 8.5 of appreciation, and hey, the great taste of cheese is part of any successful party spread...

Richard interviewed with the AmbiEntrance in November 1999; read up for more insights, or visit the website of Richard's biggest fan, Marleen.

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This review posted August 30, 2000

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