Welcome to an atmospheric realm of blurred synth drones, textural shortwave radio, and vivid sine waves. Welcome to the highly individual sonic world of Rick Reed. For more than 30 years now Reed has been toiling away, composing, performing, and fine-tuning his craft of very personal and powerful electronic experimentation. And his expertise is plainly evident. His is incredibly engaging music with an almost physical presence. Reed’s level of mastery is virtually unparalleled – it seems that no one else can combine these elements with quite the same finesse, with the same ear for arrangement, or with the same sense of purpose.
If Rick Reed’s is not yet a household name it is likely due to his relatively slim body of work. “The Way Things Go,” then, is an attempt at resolving this issue, for here are 83 worthy minutes of top-shelf electronic tonalities. “The Way Things Go” covers a span of nearly ten years of work, and yet the material flows very naturally from one piece to the next. Yes, the evolution of technique is on display here, but Reed found his voice some years ago and his stylistic development has therefore been suitably subtle and deliberate. This is the work of a composer who is extraordinarily familiar with the sounds at his disposal and whose editorial skills are equally honed.
Massimo Ricci, inspired by one of the pieces in this set (“Hidden Voices”), has noted:
“I can’t stress enough the importance of composers like Reed, who thrive in semi-obscurity and without the praises given to people [worth] less than half their value, continuously finding alternative interpretations of the word ’emotion.'”
The observation is astute and the idea of an emotional presence is crucial to understanding Reed’s work. His music is sometimes noisy, sometimes tranquil. Harsh frequencies give way to beautifully sustained tones. Jarring textures and lilting melodies are both to be found in this sphere. Above all, though, Rick Reed’s work is challenging. There is no easy classification for music of this complexity. The curious listener is best advised to investigate personally.
In addition to his solo work, Rick Reed has participated in a number of productive collaborations over the years with Keith Rowe, Jgrzinich (in Frequency Curtain), the Abrasion Ensemble, and SIRSIT, among others. He currently resides in Austin.