Seven Horses for Seven Kings was completed during a particularly prolific period for Marc Richter. Working on a broad range of commissions since his last album - from writing for film and theatre works to composing for art installations, apps and sleep music - generated a flurry of new ideas and influences. Site-specific residencies in particular let Richter shift his focus from melody and song architecture to more abstract sound art. Extensive touring would equally come to inform a key shift in Richter's music, simulating the raw, unpredictable energy of live performances on record. Rather than ironing out mistakes in samples or his own playing, he exploits or even forces such imperfections. While rhythm has been largely absent from previous Black to Comm releases, here the music seems totally bound to it, from the fractured techno breaks of Fly on You to the pounding war drums of Rameses II and pulsing Mellotron sounds of Angel Investor. The album's breath-taking pace drives Richter's music to new levels of intensity.
Richter's creative practice is informed as much by careful, attentive listening as it is studio experimentation. Pieces often begin life as a single sound that catches his ear, be it a record from his extensive collection, or something in the natural environment. Samples and instrumentation are sometimes presented authentically, a deliberate reference to an era, place or player, and at other times are twisted beyond recognition. Samples from contemporary artists like Nils Frahm are bent and compounded with fragments of early recorded music and medieval songs. Richter blurs the lines between organic instrumentation and digital production to the extent that the two become inseparable. Being able to separate sound from context gives Richter complete command of the emotional impact of his music, imbuing pieces with meaning or stripping it back as he sees fit.
While Richter questions whether instrumental music needs to have deeper meaning beyond its sonic qualities, he accepts that the wider world inevitably bleeds into his art. Reflecting the violence and unreality of modern life, Seven Horses for Seven Kings is unashamedly dark, undeniably angry. But rather than be consumed by such emotions, Richter employs them as ecstatic release. Through his mastery of sound, he achieves transcendence through noise, beauty through intensity.
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