Devin Sarno’s excellent netlabel Absence of Wax introduced the world (okay, maybe a hundred of us) to Sarah J. Ritch with the release of 16 Days. This drone work was designed in Max/MSP and contained “100 sines organized into 16 individually tuned oscillator instruments”. (You can read my review of 16 Days here, “Leaving and Returning to Las Vegas”). A few months later and another excellent netlabel, this time Pan Y Rosas out of Chicago, gives us an EP of Ritch’s work, String Theory. Netlabel operator Keith Holt also interviewed Ritch, herself a transplanted Chicagoan, and this well-done interview gives much insight into Ritch’s creative process.
In the interview, Ritch shares with us a composing techinque where she draws out her composition using crayons. It’s absolutely wonderful and an interesting way to creatively visualize a piece of music. The drawing above this post is from one of Ritch’s composition.
Ritch is a classically trained cellist so her attraction to drones is quite understandable. String Theory is part drone and part contemporary classical.* The album starts out with a short drone piece, “Celli”, which cements in my mind that the cello is the original drone creator. The second track, “400g Live” is a Ritch composition for violin and cello – though the cello is so good at drones, I sometimes wonder if it is not a laptop process these sounds. Carmel Raz plays the violin on this track. The third track is the aforemention drone piece, “16 Days”. With “Sonata de Kinor – 1st Movement”, Aurelien Pederzoli plays violin to Ritch’s cello. This would be the contemporary classical piece which I found to be alive and colorful. The last track is an interesting construction given by it’s title, “Duo for Solo Cello”. This work is filled with wonderful drones and noises. An exquisite way to end the album.
I cannot be happier that Ritch is continuing her relationship with netlabels. I can only hope that other experimental/academic musicans can see the opportunities that the netlabel audience has to offer as a way to expand their audience.
* What is contemporary classical? For me, classical is a music that puts me to sleep. Contemporary classical engages me.
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