Note to recording artists: when you include a staffer’s name in the title of your release, someone is bound to notice and smile. con richard (por la adversidad a las estrellas may have been written for another Richard, but I’d like to think that all Richards are in solidarity throughout the world. Our name was once one of the most popular on the planet, but now we are a dying breed. According to one site no Richards have been born in the U.S. in the past three years, compared to 58,862 in 1946. But Gil Sansón remembers his NYC friend Richard Garet from their musical adventures once upon a time, and dedicates con richard to those memories.
Unlike the majority of the populace, recording artists preserve memories through sound as well as photos and prose. Sansón creates this collage in Caracas, blending local recordings with sonic recreations, reflecting “the musicality of memory.” It’s no surprise that traffic is one of them, as any visitor to New York City will attest. Although con richard is a single track, the recording begins episodically with stops and starts and silences in-between. Trains pass by; subway cars screech to a halt, and the “grey sound” of Caracas meets the muted cacophony of New York. There are of course birds and dogs in each city, so their soundscapes seem like siblings separated by space and time.
In the distance, over the rattles and hums, one can hear the call of the sea. In Caracas, the Guaire River exudes the siren’s call, in New York City the Hudson. Once the initial minutes have passed, the eyes-opening-and-closing affect subsides; the cities are waking up. Industrial sounds intrude, accompanied by electronic additions. The heart of the day is the city’s symphony. The midpoint is awash in steam blast and static charge. Traffic continues to build, including noticeable honks, and power tools interrupt the city dweller’s reverie. When recalling his friend, Sansón recalls also the rhythms of his routine. And then, for a moment, all is silent again.
One wonders if these pauses are breaks between memories, or the turning of one such memory to examine another facet. When reading that “geography has made physical contact impossible,” one begins to feel a bit melancholy, the traffic sounds ~ car, bike, subway ~ insufficient to cross oceans. Field recording artists tend not to rake in the money, but perhaps each disc sold will help to grow the airline fund, and these friends will be able to see each other again. (Richard Allen)