2020 / 2021 / Raymond Richards / ESP Institute

Raymond Richards` The Lost Art Of Wandering was another of my favourite records of 2020. Produced by Lovefingers, and released on the vinyl guru`s ESP Institute imprint, the album focused on Raymond`s pedal steel virtuosity – filtered through a youth misspent in stoner rock and shoe gaze bands – and placed in him a pantheon of experimental players such as Mike Cooper and BJ Cole. Very much a piece of modern cosmic Americana, and a hymn to his homeland’s landscape, the treatments of his chosen instrument`s soothing whale-like song had me ranting on about The KLF`s Chillout, and Eno & Lanois` Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks. Trust me, The Lost Art Of Wandering, is a touchstone that will be recognized as just as timeless in years to come. 

Words and selections by Raymond Richards.

Could you please give me a few pieces of music, released or reissued this year, that have helped you make it through 2020?

This year has been the most challenging, unsettling, year of my life in so many ways. I went from being in the studio multiple days a week to being at home, adrift and without an income or the close-knit family I have with my band and studio musicians. Most of the music I listened to involved my search for comfort and solace, so here goes;

Far and away the most listened to record this year was Harold Budd’s first record, a collaboration with Brian Eno, The Pavilion of Dreams. It is other-worldly without relying on synthetic sounds – full of legato vocal performances, sparkling glockenspiel, and softly played piano. There are even a few sultry tenor saxophone moments. Certainly not released or re-issued this year, but I just discovered it this year and am surprised how few people have experienced this masterpiece.

There was the excellent collaboration between Khruangbin and Leon Bridges, Texas Sun, the Oberheim exotica of Frankie Reyes` Originalitos – my main collaborator of 2020. Along with my pod-pal Megan Diana, I listened to him obsessively. 

Suddenly, the lovely, languid collaboration between Drugdealer and Weyes Blood.

All News Is Good News by Surprise Chef – a band I’d love to work with.

This will be hard to answer, but all being “well” what plans do you have for 2021?

I`m very much in the process of taking over Long Play Recording – one of the premier recording studios in Portland, Oregon. I`ve not owned my own studio since moving here from Los Angeles with my wife Bri in 2015. I`ll be working more on my own compositions in the ambient genre now that I have my own space. Andrew Hogge, aka Lovefingers, definitely got me started in that direction by commissioning, and then producing, The Lost Art of Wandering – which is a name that he came up with.

Is there any way that I, we, others, can help and assist you in achieving these goals? Are you looking for partners / collaborators – folks who might have access to resources that you currently don’t? – in that sense of “if we stand together then we will survive”? 

Absolutely. Two things come to mind. I would like to continue putting out ambient music and am open to any assistance with that. I`ve recently collaborated with my friend Dean Wareham – of Galaxie 500 and  Luna – on an ambient record for local label, Lung records.

Also, I hope to showcase touring artists playing a few live songs in my studio – with a multi-camera recording and studio quality sound. I have all the instruments a band might need, ready to go so, they can just drop in before soundcheck at a gig and record a live set. I’d like to launch a website featuring these performances – with sponsors helping to fund the activity – and so keep this special studio, so that I’ll be the shepherd of alive and healthy.

Raymond Richards` The Lost Art Of Wandering is available directly from ESP Institute. 

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