AMN Reviews: Stephanie Richards – Fullmoon (2018; Relative Pitch Records)

Stephanie Richards is a Canadian-born composer / improviser whose armament of choice is the trumpet. Now a resident of New York, she has collaborated with Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Butch Morris, and John ZornFullmoon is her first release, a solo effort with live samples from Dino J.A. Deane.

As far as I can tell, all sounds on the album are derived in some fashion from Richards’ trumpet. But she does not play the instrument in the conventional sense – instead, she explores her ability to create drones, percussion, and resonance, using varied extended techniques. Yes, she does provide a melody or two, but in a non-repetitious, improvised sense. Deane’s contributions build up Richards’ pieces with overdubbed layers of the samples, often resulting in an electroacoustic feel. These processed acoustic sounds emulate not only percussive elements but even string instruments.

Richards refers to her approach as re-composition, where she breaks down each recording and then builds it back up from constituent parts. This is a lengthy process, as it took her over two years to finalize the nine pieces of Fullmoon. As a result, this is a singular release. Both harsh and alluring at the same time, this album will make you unthink what you know about the structure of music.