Terrific record of solo electronic music from Richard Scott is called Everything Is Always At Once (DISCUS MUSIC DISCUS133CD) (nothing to do with the recent Dan Kwan movie with a similar title) and offers us eight tracks of synthesised goodiness, some of it quite overpowering…I may say “solo”, but in fact Scott’s intention here is to sound like an entire group, or at any rate emulate the “feeling” of playing in an ensemble, in a process he describes as “simultaneity of voices and events and a coexistence of multiple lines suggesting distinct musical roles and instrumental characteristics”.
He lists a substantial number of instruments on his credit list, and these are mostly combinations of a commercial brand name with a descriptive name indicating its function, such as the “Oberheim Xpander” – but I am totally clueless as to what these devices do, so I’ll settle for “analogue and modular synthesisers”. Gotta admit he’s really found a way to make the “virtual group” notion pay off in triple jackpots – there’s a lot of bizarre, noisy action going down and plenty of curious, fascinating sounds bursting out of their respective pods, like alien flowers on Planet Venus. His “ensemble” approach means his music doesn’t resemble “classic” electro-acoustic music from the old Schools (by which I mean anything from Koenig to Stockhausen by way of Bayle and Parmegiani), where quite often the projected sound can appear rather lonely and isolated for some reason. Perhaps it’s the cold formality of an academic experiment that induces that loneliness. Contrariwise, Scott is happily bouncing around inside his studio unleashing the tongues of a dozen or more gabbling voices, trills, birds, beasts, and pots of clay.
Kinda surprised I never heard of this Scott before, as he’s been hovering around on many “scenes” and locales of exciting endeavour since the 1980s, one of which was the London Musician’s Collective, and another was releasing his “underground cassettes” since the late 1980s. As to the LMC, seems he used to parp the saxophone as his chosen machine, and studied it under Elton Dean and Steve Lacy. As to the cassette thing, this may have grown out of his teenage post-punk band period. I mention these strands as they all point to one thing – his love of playing and playing in groups, and that brings us round to the whole point of this album. He’s pretty much replaced his friends and collaborators with machines, which is the best way to go as people will always let you down in the long run. More recently, our man has found time – when he’s not mutating his own nervous system into a circuit board so he can enjoy a closer bond with his little friends – to set up and operate his own record label Sound Anatomy, active since 2015 and a good breeding ground for improvisers and electronic composers alike.
I realise after all this verbiage I still haven’t said very much about the form of his music here, which is (to my superficial lugs) extremely complex and dense, and probably containing more ideas per square inch than the human brain can comfortably process. I’m reminded in places of Thomas Dimuzio, except Scott doesn’t “do” noise as such and doesn’t want to waste a single second of music time if he can’t occupy it with multiple voices unearthly sounds twisted into super-intricate trillamagoos and curliblodgens. And he’s also pushing the form – no tunes, no melody, no patterns, no repeats, just generous scads of atonal modernism pushed through the oscillators and filters. Did I mention he was bowled over when he first heard Stockhausen on the wireless? Well, that and Cabaret Voltaire, and erm, Jon Hassell…seriously, I’ve no doubt that Professor Karlheinz would have been impressed by the complexity, largesse and sheer ingenuity on offer here. From 4 May 2022.