Electric Violinist Vicki Richards Appears with Echoes April CD of the Month: She Vanishes
Vicki Richards is a violinist who’s plugged in and globally wired. And she has been since we started playing her music back at the dawn of Echoes in 1989 with the original version of her album, Parting The Waters. She’s played on albums by Steve Roach (The Serpent’s Lair) and Black Tape for a Blue Girl (Remnants of a Deeper Purity) and released four solo albums since then, but her latest, She Vanishes, is the most complete realization of a sound that was always based in world fusion motifs and classically tinged melodies.
You can hear it in the energized groove of “Trail Head (Berkshires)” with Richards soloing freely across the two-handed guitar maze of Mitch Kopp and the Indian tabla percolations of Jeff Deen. The title track on the other hand, takes a more elegiac approach, with Richards and Koop dueting as Richards layers and loops her violin creating electric string sections in a work that soars over a serengeti plain.
While the imagery Vicki Richards has employed in the past have put her in the New Age category, (and a CD of guided meditations called Cleansing Water – Pura Vida amplified that image), her music has always exhibited an edge and improvisational daring that reveals her to be a fusion burner at heart. You can hear it in her freewheeling solos as well as the arpeggiated guitar riff that runs through “Midnight Whisper,” recalling The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s “Birds of Fire” without the electric firestorm roar.
Richards is a modern violinist, expanding her instrument with loops, harmonizers and other effects that often turn her into an orchestra as she does on the serene but relentlessly moving “Driving Till Dawn,” creating string beds while soloing down the midnight highway. Even when she plays solo, it’s not merely solo as she turns herself into a string ensemble on tracks like”Riding the Thermals.” She plays with the expression of an Indian sarangi on another solo track, “It Was Love,” an alap of serpentine violin and trailing string pads.
Richards has had good musicians on all her albums, but there seems to be a special simpatico between her current trio. Kopp and Deen latch onto grooves that seem to hover between India and Africa and Kopp especially lays the groundwork for several tracks, like “Ocean Sun.” His two handed tapping brings out bass lines and ostinato pads that propel the track. You can see their intuitive interplay in this live video.
Vicki Richards’ She Vanishes is an album of intimate moods, but expansive designs. It’s the Echoes CD of the Month for April.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))