Keith Richie is a puzzling artistic character; sometimes essential, sometimes sophisticated, somewhat rustic, oftentimes complex, and yet essentially urban in outlook. But there a few things he never seems to exhibit: monotony, indifference, or ineptitude. Instead he appears in full flower on his latest 9-track release, “Skylines”, an album of remarkable breadth, depth and ambition. The album features musical interpretations of major city skylines from across the globe. The music captures Richie’s visions of Seattle, New York, Beijing China as well as unique album versions of the previously released singles, “Seattle Walk”, “Lost in Beijing” and “Goodbye Dubai”.
It is precisely Richie’s lack of sneering musical superiority that makes “Skylines” such a treat. These layered instrumental arrangements and electronic pop structures could all have been an exercise of ego run amok, like a bad progressive rock album. But that doesn’t happen. Instead, we are treated to a song cycle so fresh and honest I hardly know where to start. From the sweet pulsating gentleness and ever expanding melody of the opening number “Seattle Walk” to the nearly magnetic electronic overture of “City of Angels” that comes afterwards, one gets a glimpse of what will follow. Imagery follows tone follows place follows events both personal and public in a seamless fabric. By the time we are through with the racy synths on “Windy City”, Richie has already taken us through a small American symphony of ideas.
The mood is quietly shattered with the over eight minutes of “Lost in Beijing”, which switches continents. If this one doesn’t make you nod your head slightly, or tweak your little toe a bit, check your pulse rate. I’m not sure if Keith Richie has assiduously frequented all these places, but my question was, “Can a songwriter express the spirit of a place he’s never called home?” Richie weaves various instrumental textures into a tapestry of places iconic, obscure, and intriguing. Possible myths, memories, and personal anecdotes are recalled and swept up with electro symphonic flourishes, as Richie reaches to where most others would need words to do so. Beautiful, haunting, and incredible complexities are executed in such an expert way that they seem simple and right.
The album is lovingly rendered all the way through, and Richie comes across as not only a musician but as a consummate symphonist. Enrapturing arrangements such as “Manhattan Nights”, “Sun in Central Park” and “Big Dreams”, leave no doubt about this. Keith Richie has so far created very high expectations for each album he has released since 2006’s “The Maestoso Interstellar Suite”. However my expectations were again surpassed with the stunning music on “Skylines”. Good headphones are revelatory for this one. To shuffle the songs or pick out a few is almost a crime – “Skylines” is a complete work of astonishing freshness, and I find it difficult to imagine how Keith Richie will top this effort in the near future. Though I am more than certain that he will!
About: Keith Richie, born 1969 and based in Mesquite, is a musician and composer for Ambient, Symphonic Electronica and Soundtrack music. Keith first became obsessed with electronic music in the early 80’s by being exposed to the fascinating music of John Carpenter, and later Tangerine Dream which are two of his biggest influences. Additional major influences include Carbon Based Lifeforms, Enya, Deep Forest, Kraftwerk, Vangelis, and Christopher Franke. Most of his work reflects those major influences.
Keith Richie Discography: In 2006 Keith released his album “The Maestoso Interstellar Suite”. This album contains a continuous piece of space music split across 6 movements. In 2008 he released “La Famille Du Solénoïde”, which is a musical tour through our solar system, inspired by the book The Planets by Dava Sobel. Four years later in 2012 brought the release “For the Willow Wept”. A collection of soothing electronic music about those once lost and those found.
“March of the Inanimate” was released in October 2014 and pays homage to the classic horror movie soundtracks produced by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth who co-wrote the music to classics such as Halloween, the Fog, and numerous others. “Ambient Highways”, released in August of 2015, represents a collection of songs that range from a melancholy like feeling to an exuberant state. On February 12, 2016 the album “Skylines” was released.