Electroshock Records: Review:  
Richard Bone: "Indium"
(Electroshock Records 2003, ELCD 033)

08 tracks. Total time - 61:31

Without knowing founder of Aikido Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) described American composer Richard Bone's new album when explaining which the eight forces that sustain creation are: movement and stillness, solidification and fluidity, extension and contraction, unification and division. Translating those eight forces in sounds seems to be exactly Bone's mastery because you can feel those strengths. You can hear the absolutely still tranquillity move around you in a warping fashion, you can feel the fluid sounds solidify at times and then flow away with the same grace they were flowing in, you can sense the way the visions drawn by these aural sonics extend beyond imagination designing new landscapes that your mind has not yet conceived and then contract inside to change the surrounding environment, you can allow your mind and your soul to unify while dividing what is around you from what is inside you while listening to this. "Indium" (a soft, malleable, ductile, lustrous and silver-white metallic element that remains liquid over a wide range of temperatures) is the right title for such achievement and the beautiful artwork in helps conveying the message. If you are in search of your intimate universal balance and you want to deepen your research with some first-class organic ambience, "Indium" should be the next CD you accompany your voyage of exploration with. Beauty is mystified, stillness is actualized, quietness is spread and ethereal softness is solidified. Never boring (even without beats), quite simply excellent and utterly astonishing.

Marc Urselli-Scharer ("Chain DLK")

One thing can be said about "Electroshock Records" without any fear of contradiction, and that's they're one hell of an interesting electronic label. I'd be the first to say that not all their releases have hit the mark, that would be, frankly, impossible, but all credit is given to them for not sticking to a winning formulae. It's only recently I finished the mammoth task of reviewing their last batch when bang! another five arrive. Not that I'm moaning, anything from this label is always a welcome addition. Richard Bone is the composer responsible for the next release, "Indium" (ELCD033). In some respects, the opening sequence is very similar to Cerullo's work above. What makes it slightly different, and equally as beautiful, is when the piano comes in after a couple of minutes. Similar to Roger Eno (and Brian to a lesser extent) Bone, within the space of a few moments, transports you to some "other" place where nothing is short of wonderful - an incredibly reflective opening track, "Indium. Part I". Seems such a shame not have bestowed a more thought provoking title, and the track is far too short! "Mercurial Wave" is the second track, and once again, the reflective mood is strengthened by Bone's unbelievable sense of calm and creativity. The ebb and flow of the sounds are like the waves of some strange sea where it invites you in. "Mayapan", track four, is a little more sinister. It's got a more darker feel to it, with an unease that's only slightly alleviated with the introduction of those mellow piano notes. What more can I say? A truly awesome and relaxing album.

Dave W. Hughes ("Modern Dance")

The Russian label "Electroshock Records" has, until now, given us attractive confrontations between orchestral and electroacoustic music. With Richard Bone's new album "Indium", it broadens its scope of exploration to atmospheric ambiences. This is a meeting of American-Soviet influences, and more particularly the all-out opening of a new musical frontier. The new project by American composer Richard Bone is a penetrating exercise in musical weightlessness. On this occasion, "Electroshock Records" wanders a bit from its usual aspirations, and replaces its usual style (of joining orchestral contemporary and electroacoustic music) for a modernized approach at relaxing resonances of ambient music that from time to time come close to New Age. A recognized artist in this genre, and among other things founder of the "Quirkworks Laboratory Discs" label, Richard Bone shares similar musical inclinations as some artists on the "Hearts Of Space" label, such as Steve Roach. The musical style is deep and luxurious, with faint layering and structured resonances rather than heavy and dense. The atmospheres are equally progressive and mellow, but the harmony that follows varies enough to break up the face of tranquility. Sparse piano notes resound finely on the sonic walls of the surface releasing lovely harmonic nuances ("In a Space Between Marigolds", "Jasminia"), and then return the darker atmospheres, machinery noises that hauntingly come from the main title. A musical universe of controlled mischief, it will delight in keeping you interested.

Laurent Catala ("Octopus/Movement")

Yet another album of what could be called "experimental" music that crashes through the barriers of expectations and is actually quite approachable. This is my introduction to composer Richard Bone, and on the basis of this album I'd be more than happy to hear more. Whereas The Victor Cerullo album was extremely cosmic, "Indium" is a little more organic sounding - the opening track, "Indium Part I" features the sampled sounds of wildlife underpinning a mixture of choral synths and piano. Very reflective and beautiful. "Mercurial Wave" follows, this is more "spacey", I guess utilising those shimmering steely sounds that seem to be a trademark sound of "Electroshock" recordings. Yet, again, the spaciness is tempered with lyrical piano lines that bring in some welcome humanity. "The Mists of Pallenque" is another gently atmospheric mix of electronics and piano which could almost be classed as "new age", though it's much better than that. The next track, "Mayapan", changes again, into one of those Eno-like ambient soundscapes that just seem to drift outside of time. The same goes for "In a Space Between Marigolds", a simple repetitive piano motive that slowly shifts in space. Very reflective and hauntingly sad. Track seven, "Jasminia", carries this sadness on with a piece built on soft drones and synth pads, though the end result is perhaps more wistful than outright sadness. The final track is "Indium Part II", the album's magnum opus, lasting a whopping thirty minutes - and it doesn't disappoint, taking the disparate elements used in all of the previous tracks and creating a wonderful soundscape with them. "Indium" is an excellent album, mixing ambience and trance to good effect.

John Peters ("Borderland")

Richard Bone goes to Russia - in a manner of speaking, of course. The keyboard artist who continually reinvents himself has released an album on Artemiy Artemiev's fine "Electroshock Records" label and the results are, of course, immensely rewarding for fans of Bone's more ambient/minimal music, such as "Tales of the Incantina", as well as the artist's earlier works on the "Hypnos" label. However, something about being hooked up with Artemiev obviously influenced Richard because "Indium" (named for the metallic element) also contains Bone's first long-form ambient track, the album closer, "Indium, Part II". At thirty minutes in duration, it's longer than anything that I've ever heard from Bone, whom I consider one of the most versatile, talented and appealing artists recording electronic music today.

Before arriving at the long piece, however, the listener is treated to seven delightful and minimal explorations of both light and shadow. "Indium Part I" begins with nocturnal creature sounds (ya gotta hear this on headphones - the various critters are everywhere), before enveloping the listener in warm drones, lush choruses (a la Larry Kucharz) and subtly echoed minimal piano. "Mercurial Waves" is a newly recorded version of the great track from Bone's previous recording, "A Survey of Remembered Things". Gentle undulations of synth washes, ebbing and flowing drones, and twinkling keyboards are too beautiful for words to do them justice and that's all before the upper register piano enters the track!

Among the other five short tracks are more gems, some wandering into slightly shadowy realms, such as "Mayapan", and its noir-ish sound textures and drones acting as an undercurrent for some of Bone's most minimal piano yet (definitely sounding like Harold Budd at times), although as the track develops, lighter elements come into play, such as twinkling bells, serving up a delicate juxtaposition of emotions. "In a Space Between Marigolds" casts a pastoral glow over a warm soundscape, reminding me of recent recordings from Michael Allison, a.k.a. Darshan Ambient. Liquid-warm synths flow serenely over and around muted bass notes and a delicate electronic melodic refrain, and once again the introduction of minimal bell-tones toward the song's conclusion lends an air of gentility and grace to the overall impact of the music. Both "Jasmnia" and "Laguna Blue" are among my favorites on "Indium", although (as usual for a Bone album) I love everything on the CD. The latter is truly luxurious electronic ambient music, with ultra-lush synth choruses sighing in ecstasy on top of an assortment of pillow-soft electronic keyboard undertones. Liquid Mind-like synth strings impart even more peacefulness later in the track.

"Indium Part II", like any long-form ambient work, is difficult (to say the least) to review/describe in conventional terms. Over its thirty minutes, it swings from the abstract opening passage, featuring alien-ish swirling effects (lots of whooshing and whishing in the soundfield) and arrhythmic 24th century-meets-'50s SF chattering EM, to a slightly warm undulating ambient drone stretch that floats on top of the more disturbing textures, and beyond that friendlier and decidedly ethereal sonic landscapes, not unlike a distant cousin of Kevin Braheny's "The Way Home". But, Richard Bone is just getting warmed up at this point of the song, and lots more cool stuff remains to be heard, such as a type of music I've not heard from him - kinetic neo-Berlin EM, intermixing twinkling bell-tree tones, waves of (what sounds like) sequenced synth notes, and sumptuous undercurrents of luxurious synth strings. This kinetic section of the song goes on for a while, although Bone introduces different musical elements as it progresses (such as echoed piano and other electronic keyboard sounds) as well as discarding/removing previous instrumentation. As the track ends, we're back where we started with - whooshing and whirring effects and vague chattering electronics.

Certainly, "Indium Part II" represents something new and exciting from Richard Bone, and once I got used to its length, I loved it. In some ways, his evolutionary technique with the piece mirrors what Thomas Ronkin (and his albums "Within: Distance and Symmetric") does on his long-form tracks, i.e. allow the music to have a life of its own - meandering, morphing, and flowing with an almost organic subtle patience. By doing so, the music maintains listener interest over the entire length of the piece. The significant difference between Bone and Ronkin is, of course, the latter's emphasis of Berlin school themes and motifs, whereas Bone's music is less linear and more vertical in its diversity, although some Germanic elements surface in "Indium Part II".

After having released the cyber-lounge trilogy ("Electropica", "Coxa", "Ascensionism"), the ambient-meets-new age of "Tales of the Incantina", and the bouncy world-beat electronica of "Disorient", I (and other astute critics and fans) recognize that Richard Bone is a veritable master of musical disguises. With "Indium", Bone once again pushes both his personal envelope and the envelope of electronic/ambient music in general. From Budd-like minimalism to soothing synth string ambience to that fantastic long-form exploration of neo-Germanism and beyond, "Indium" represents a high-water mark for this highly imaginative and immensely talented artist. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Richard, I can't even conceive of what you have up your sleeve next, but I doubt I'll be disappointed! As for "Indium", well, need I say it - it earns my highest recommendation.

Bill Binkelman ("Wind & Wire")

Richard Bone is an American composer and musician who has been regularly releasing albums since 1993, mostly on his own Quickworks Laboratory Discs label. The music on Indium consists of unreleased music as well as music written to be performed at Artemiy Artemiev's First International Festival of Electronic, Electroacoustic, Experimental and Avant-garde Music in Saint-Petersburg, Russia (supposed to be held in 2002 but postponed until this year).

The CD opens with "Indium Part I", a 5 minute introductory piece consisting of a soft piano melody and electronics. "Indium Part II" is a 30 minute epic that opens with a spacey vibe and includes low drones, pulsating tones and sound waves, and what sounds like high speed traffic in space. Piano soon joins in with another gentle melody along with choral electronic strings. Bone does a good job of bringing together the meditative melodic and spacey avant-garde elements into a harmonious whole. After a while a repetitive keyboard pattern kicks in that reminds me of some of Manuel Gættsching's guitar creations, and the resulting atmosphere seems to draw on ambient, kosmiche, and maybe some prog rock influences. The rest of the CD consists of dreamy ambient pieces that reflect Bone's interests in accessible melodic music and more avant-garde investigations, though his real strength, and what makes "Indium" such an enjoyable listening experience, is his ability to seamlessly blend the two together. It's nice to have a peaceful floating journey that also provides a little something challenging for the attentive listener.

Jerry Kranitz ("Aural Innovations")

Having already been particularly impressed by Richard Bone's 2001 "Tales From Incantina" album, I was quite looking forward to this release. "Indium. Part I" opens the album gracefully with a moody low echoing hum amidst the chatter of birdsong, until the familiar droplets of piano provide an ambient serenity more in keeping with the previous works of Harold Budd & Brian Eno. Quite a comparison to be made it must be said. "Indium" floats and glides through eight tracks of contemplative ambient bliss, its heart and soul borne from Bone's deeply imbedded emotional clock. Unlike previous albums, where Bone was influenced by various ancient mysticism's, this appears to be an intensely personal album, certainly darker, with the piano flickering around the moody currents of synthesised sound, rather than offering rays of bright melodic hope. Only on "Jasminia" does Bone allow the processed piano to take a lead role, pushing the previous gaseous backdrops into the background to deliver a more accessible directive, yet this delightful track seems to end a little too hastily for my liking. Occasionally "Indium" lapses into an apathetic indifference though, witness "Laguna Blue", whilst the closing 30-minute "Indium. Part II" is a workhorse of an ambient track, which struggles to capture the imagination despite it's various subtle intricacies and heartwarming string padded thrusts. All in all, not his best work, but still an enjoyable release, which should be welcomed by the ambient fraternity.

Danny Tumer ("Barcode")

"Indium" is American composer Richard Bone's latest electronic ambient album. The CD contains new material and some music written for the First International Festival of Electronic, Electroacoustic, Experimental and Avant-garde Music in St. Petersburg - an event headed by "Indium" producer Artemiy Artemiev. "Indium. Part I" sets the tone for the rest of the album and is focused around soft piano and synth parts elevating over a backdrop of atmospheric samples and washes. Piano and string-based synth sounds provide most of the melodic content in the songs. In the last couple of tracks, the piano is absent and the ethereal sweeping synth textures take center stage. Lots of the background sounds and swirls are brittle and metallic sounding electronic tones, but remain fluid nevertheless. The album's closer "Indium. Part II" is a good example of this. This 30-minute track also provides the soundtrack to a recent limited-edition ambient video, also called "Indium". Perhaps this clangorous aspect of this composition is the origin of the album's title? All the instruments on "Indium" sound keyboard or computer based. Sampling notwithstanding, there aren't any obvious percussion, bass, or guitar instruments used. That's not to say Bone uses every day or run-of-the-mill keyboard patches. The tone selection actually sounds quite vibrant and shifting. He does a good job keeping the music interesting, even though the pace is slow and tranquil throughout. Electronic ambient fans should enjoy this.

Mike Grimes ("Expose")

The music in this album by Richard Bone explores new, imaginative regions of Ambient, yet it never falls into chancy experimentation. Although there are static passages, many others possess complex orchestrations, and even rhythmic sections that, even if they are slow, they do provide the music with a strong vitality. The melodies range from the space atmosphere to the romantic, at times with a triumphant air, while at other times it presents a subtle melancholy.

Jorge Munnshe ("Amazing Sounds")

An organic, liquid structure starts to drain out from speakers from the very moment you push "play". There's no skeleton in this musical "Organon", neither flesh nor blood: only urgent and fleeing sonical "spirit" going out in a delicate way to final Highness. In certain way Richard Bone pays a sincere tribute to the peculiar element he has chosen to portrays here: INDIUM...discovered in 1883 by F. Reich and H. T. Richter, which remains stubbornly liquid, even under opposite temperature regimes. Bone builds -successfully- a quietly biological "multi-layered" symphony, filled with pulsing & summoning "inner search" instants. These "instants" are beautiful "soundscapes" like postcards from a promised land... As I said before: neither flesh nor blood: only "Holy Ghost" invading our senses without any resistance from us. Last time I felt the same ineffable sensation was the very first time I listened David Bowie's "Subterraneans" (from "Low", 1977) a touching theme played along with Brian Eno... Eureka!! Richard Bone might be the most worthy Eno's heir, but he has chosen his own way.... Suggested themes: "Indium. Part 2" and "Mercurial Wave"

Rene Atilio Araya ("Extraco Revoltijo")

A couple of years ago, composer Richard Bone was approached to present 21 piece at an electronic music festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. "I hadn't performed in 20 years, but for some unknown reason I said yes," he says. He was afraid that getting his equipment to St. Petersburg would be a "nightmare," so he decided to compose a "minimal piece of slow-moving music and use a video to accompany it."

Bone found inspiration for that piece in the most unlikely of places - the Periodic Table of the Elements. The combination of music and video is known as "Indium," a 30-minute composition consisting of three distinct sections. In the accompanying video, the scene changes every 10 minutes to match the changes in the music. It falls into the genre of experimental music known as ambient music.

Bone got his start in pop music and says that lie is still something of a pop song-writer, because most of his pieces are only three or four minutes long, "This was the first time I had ever attempted to compose something that was 30 minutes long and try to keep it interesting and moving," he says. It was written as three separate pieces that Bone then had to flow into each other to make one continuous piece of music.

Interestingly, although indium ultimately provided the inspiration for the finished piece, the idea was originally planted by another element. A fan of the Spanish surrealist painter Joan Miro, Bone visited the Fundacio Joan Miro in Barcelona, where he saw the "Mercury fountain," which was created by Alexander Calder for the 1937 World's Fair in Paris. In this sculpture, liquid mercury is piped from a pool and flows down a series of curved metal pieces back into the pool. The sculpture was created as a political statement against the seizure of the Almaden mercury mines by Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War.

"I could watch that mercury flow forever," Bone says. "I came back and wanted to do 21 piece that slowly evolved like lowing mercury"

But he didn't want to call a piece "Mercury" because that had already been done, so he looked elsewhere for an appropriate name. "I somehow stumbled across a periodic table and saw the word indium," Bone says. "I'd never heard of it, so I looked up the description of it. The description almost perfectly described the music and the video that I wanted to do."

Indium is a soft, lustrous, silvery white metal. It is useful for making alloys with low melting points. For example, an alloy of 24% indium and 76% gallium is a liquid at room temperature. The element was discovered spectroscopically in 1863 by Ferdinand Reich and his assistant Hieronymous ". Richter while they were searching for thallium in zinc ore. The element was named for the brilliant indigo line in its spectrum. The pure metal was first isolated in 1867 by Richter. Until 1924 about a gram represented the entire world supply of the isolated metal. Indium was originally thought to be rare, but it is actually about as abundant as silver.

The definition of indium that Bone found "evoked in me the music I was creating," He printed the definition ant taped it over the keyboard where he could see it as he worked on the piece. "There was something about the description of that element that seemed to capture what I wanted to create in the music," he says.

He took the definition to Jim Karpeichik, a local videographer, and told him that he wanted to create a visual that evolved and moved very slowly Karpeichik filmed ocean scenes at the beach in Rhode Island, slowed them down, and colorized them.

Bone's approach to composing "Indium" was unusual for him. Typically, he improvises on the keyboard, looking for an unusual sound that he hasn't worked with before that can inspire him melodically. The work slowly starts to evolve from there. Often, he doesn't have a title for a work until he's done. "This was going to be a live performance piece, originally," Bone says. "I needed to have some very clear concept of what I was going to do."

The music festival fell through when the Russian government declined to fund it, but the festival producers also owned a record company. The Russian record company "Electroshock Records" released the album "Indium" in January 2003. In the US., it is exclusively available from the online ordering site http://www.eurock.com

Another interesting tidbit, given that this is G&EN's 80th or "mercurial" anniversary: The second track on the album is called "Mercurial Wave."

Celia Henry ("C&EN" - "Chemical & Engineering News")

Apparently this is the same guy who used to do Kraftwerk cum Gary Nutman type electro-pop in the early-1980's. It seems that now he is turned into new-age romantic. This follows his releases on the "Hypnos" label, and sees the schmaltz setting-in, with lush choral tones, atmospheric jungle backdrops, and richly joyous (but restrained) piano melodies. The first seven such short tracks thus lend to sound like a slightly morose Tim Story or Roger Eno, whereas the final "Part II" of the final track, at 30 minutes, is more of controlled meditation that gradually swells and grows focus, starting akin to Eno & Budd and shifting to Nik Tyndall, for want of a better description.

Alan Freeman ("Audion")

Richard Bone is considered one of the most significant US composers of ambient music. He began experimenting with synthesizers very early and in the beginning of eighties he already released several LP's of his music and participated in various collaborative projects. During that early stage the music of Bone was influenced by the synth-pop style and the then flourishing new-wave club scene. The music was produced by Artemiy Artemiev and the album consists of music written for live performance during the First International Festival of Electronic, Electroacoustic, Experimental and Avant-garde Music in St. Petersburg, as well as several unreleased ambient pieces. The sound includes piano with atmospheric melodies that are relaxing and real ear candy. Songs like "Mercurial Wave" and "In a Space Between Marigolds" will seduce many listeners. "Indium. Part II" counts over thirty minutes of listening pleasure and ends the album in a special way.

Peter Jan Van Damme ("Darker Than the Bat")


Reference to "Electroshock Records" website is obligatory in case of any usage of printed & photo materials from the site © "Electroshock Records", 2004