AMN Reviews: Rick Sanders – Four Pieces (Nobeat)

For his debut recording, Rick Sanders of Nijmegen offers four pieces of “improvised and partly generative music.” As described by early champion Brian Eno, generative music is music created with materials and processes the artist specifies, resulting in combinations and interactions he or she did not. In theory, it could go on forever, without ever repeating a phrase.

For his part, Sanders chooses to curtail the duration of his pieces to just over eight and nine minutes each. Mustering a passel of electronic equipment, all carefully listed in the liner notes (which are encased in a plain cardboard package adorned with an austere but strikingly appropriate cover watercolor), Sanders built the album around three concise acoustic-guitar themes, sampled and looped, randomized and modulated, to which he adds elements percussive and elusive and blends in a single, synthesized take.

The final result is a quartet of transportive miniatures, textures that tumble delicately in clear, dry air. The first two pieces are exquisitely meditative, all lovely and round, while the third is suspenseful, offering no release, in a good way. For this listener, the fourth track is marred by a big ol’ bell being struck with a mallet at irregular intervals, which frankly distracts from the sinewy texture developing beneath.

Sanders writes that he has archived further themes for piano, flute and more, which hopefully will serve as the starting point for future explorations in this realm.

Stephen Fruitman