REVIEW: Ris Paul Ric - Purple Blaze

REVIEW: Ris Paul Ric – Purple Blaze

If you’re a regular visitor to Static + Distance, then you may have noticed

Ris Paul Ric is the solo project of Christopher Paul Richards (of the now defunct Q And Not U — an incredible band in their own right, but that’s another post) who with help from ambient-electro-noise-crafter Tim Hecker has made what to date remains one of the finest albums in my collection. Why is it called Purple Blaze? I’d be lying if I said there weren’t at least a few hazy references scattered throughout this album, but it’s far from what I’d call stoner music. These tracks are beautifully and intricately crafted.

“Purple Blaze”

The album opens with the title track, “Purple Blaze,” wherein Richards drops a bunch of pleasant sounding words. What’s the meaning here? I couldn’t begin to tell you. It feels more like memories of some abstract dream than a cohesive song. The strange instrumentation behind the gorgeous guitar lines only add to the effect.

Richards continually proves throughout Purple Blaze that he knows how to craft an interesting, complex song without going overboard. Take “Colonialism” for example.

“Colonialism”

On the surface, it’s just the artist’s voice and guitar, but like most songs on the album, there are some interesting field recordings that sound like they’re pulled from some remote oasis. The song is a bit of a mystery lyrically. You might get the idea this is a love letter to imperialism, but given the content of Q And Not U’s songs and the temperament of the DC indie scene in general, it’s certainly something much more nuanced. Many of the songs on Purple Blaze have this vagueness that leaves the tracks up to interpretation, but this one always catches my ear: “I’m feeling like a guest / a tourist in their war / I’m always overdressed”

“I Wish You Love Me”

“I Wish You Love Me” is another highlight. Slightly more upbeat than most of the album and perhaps the closest thing to a pop song on the album. The whistling lends an odd skip to the track. Speaking of skips, there’s some interesting glitching going on with the guitar — whether electronic or organic, I can’t say, but I’m guessing that’s Hecker’s work. “I Wish You Love Me” winds down with… sitar? Some strange auto harp? (I still don’t know) and gradually fades out into “Valerie Teardrop.”

“Valerie Teardrop”

Purple Blaze may never get it’s fair due. Perhaps having this album come into my life when I did has caused me to place it on a pedestal, but I have no hesitation in saying it’s one of the best of the ’00s.