Richard Burmer Sails into the Aether

Another musician has left us and this one is closer to home. Richard Burmer was an unassumingly brilliant artist and one of the original Southern California synthesists along with Steve Roach, Michael Stearns and Kevin Braheny. But Richard always had a stronger interest in melody, a dramatic flair in arrangements and a rhythmic vitality that set him apart from his contemporaries. You could hear the difference on the original issue of Western Spaces, which featured Roach, Braheny & Burmer. Although he was slotted into the New Age, Burmer never maintained any of those trappings. He was always a down-to-earth guy. In fact, when I first interviewed him in the mid-1980s, I thought he could’ve been a suburban blue collar worker throwing back a few at the bar, and not the creator of miniature electronic symphonies.

Richard’s first album, Mosaic, remains a masterpiece of modern music, full of acoustic instruments warped ever so slightly and atmosphere drenched devices like the Chamberlin and Mellotron that played tapes of acoustic instruments. They were meant to replicate an orchestra of flutes, strings and choirs, but what made them so great was they actually distorted those sounds and surrounded them with a gauze-like mist that seemed to wreak of the antique. Richard knew this and he used it to great effect on the fever dream track, “The Serum” aa well as more serene compositions like “Winter on the Wind.”
Richard got a bit more romantic and lush on albums like On the Third Extreme and Treasures of the Saints, and although he was a sentimental guy, that only occasionally showed up in his music. There was always a deep, yearning soulfulness in his music and the feeling of grandeur without being grandiose. Even though Richard hadn’t put out a new CD in a decade, he remained a favorite here at Echoes.
At 50 years of age, Richard Burmer left the planet on Saturday, September 9, 2006 in Saginaw.
He’s gone, but even when he was here, his music was a gift from the other side.
Shining by the River Treasures of the Saints Bhakti Point

Comment posted by
at 9/14/2006 6:51:09 PM

Richard has always been a fave of mine as I enjoy his rich melodies. Bhakti Point and Western Spaces have had many many spins on my CD player over the years!

Although far away in Australia his music has touched my heart and filled my life with joy. His music will live on in many hearts and souls all over the world.

I am sure he is dancing now amongst the stars and galaxies!

Comment posted by
at 9/17/2006 4:53:46 AM

Although Richard passed his music will live on for people to enjoy. His music’s sound was unique when so many other New Age (EM) artists were starting to all sound similar.

Hopefully more will discover his talents and originality. Props go out to Richard’s musical body of works. It wasn’t just the same ole Berlin School New Age Music. His music contained more character and heart than what most of the newer breed of retro New Age (EM) artists out there now could even dream of with their own music.

Comment posted by
at 9/20/2006 1:25:30 AM

What a treat it was to find a copy of “Shining by the River” at the end of August and play it again as I drove around the Berkeley hills. Such soaring, heartfelt and emotional melodies. “Across the View” or “Waking the Icons” always made me stop and listen intently. (I never understood why the CD of Desert Solitaire omitted Burmer’s tracks; they were the reason I bought the cassette years ago.) Every now and then I’ll come across a video of nature photography set to one of Richard’s melodies. Always a treat.

Farewell, Richard. And thanks.

Comment posted by
at 9/20/2006 6:41:23 AM

Richard Burmer was a friend of mine – a “phone-pal/ pen-pal” for many years. What folks need to know is that his music was true to his Soul: He believed in places like “Bhakti Point; ” he was in awe of the “treasures of the saints.” One day, I told him of my admiration for the work of the patron saint of immigrants, Mother Cabrini. He was quite moved by her story, and that became the title/ theme of my favorite cut on his CD, “Treasures of the Saints.”

Folks will remember Richard Burmer as an original – a musical genius. But I’ll also remember him as “Merlin” – a magic man with a heart of gold.

Love and prayers to his family and fans . . . and to my departed friend now in the heavens. DB

Comment posted by
at 9/22/2006 1:12:58 PM

Rick is my best friend of 35 years, we used to jam in his parents basement as teenagers, and I later lived with him and Debbie in Los Angeles, we talked weekly and I will always love him and miss him.

Comment posted by
at 3/19/2007 10:35:50 AM

I didn’t hear about Richards passing until today. I should have known better. He was always that guy that called, said he couldn’t talk long, and never stopped talking. He was passionate.

I should have sensed something wrong damn it. We hadn’t spoken all year. I should have called.

Folks, life is short. Make that call. Be a good listener

paul adams

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