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Richard Davies -Travel Without Movement

During what has been on eof the quietest periods of music making history, Richard Davies has produced work redolent of the pandemic era. Richard told me, "The album came out of emergence from lockdown. I took the title from a line in the original version of the movie ‘Dune’ to reflect that while I had stayed at home, I still travelled to other places in my mind and through connecting with others across the world. Now it is time to move on from the lockdown I find myself reluctant to do so, and I wonder about my future as a result.”

‘A New City Speaks’ has an almost beginning, but the track builds, perhaps symbolising emergence, the melody repeated with a gentle rise toward the trumpet solo, which emerges from the background clear and defiant, its voice a beautiful variation on the theme, improvising around the chordal continuum provided by the electric piano. The saxophone rises and sings over occasional car horn hoots, the sounds of a city re-awakening. The sax delves into a gorgeous harmonic minor before the effusive flourish in the final section, the confidence seemingly arising over pervasive percussion. Davies on sax is a revelation.

‘Canadian Borders’ is a sonic experience with different effects and the sax gently interspersing musical motifs, thoughts, and exquisite riffs, lifting and adding a sense of contemplation. Under the sax is a rhythmic pulse of electronic piano and a repeated melodic phrase that gives a depth of texture to the track and emphasises the sax playing.

‘Dance, Robot, Dance’ is mesmeric in its rhythms and repeated theme, the piano providing a melody over which the sax works magic. The sax leads a beautifully worked melody, rising and falling with the beautifully worked melody, played with intelligence and gently nuanced. An outstanding track, just too short.

‘I Used To Travel’ starts with a lift-off sequence, and then we journey through a sonic landscape painted by trumpet, trombone, tenor sax, piano, and keyboard bass. The journey is punctuated with distant screams, squeals, and sounds of life as the slow melody and off-kilter piano (which is divine), are topped by sublimely melodic tenor saxophone. The gentleness of the sax is countered by the disharmonies in the counterpoint of the accompaniment, which creates beauty and rise, lifting the very soul.

‘Inner Working’ is a well-structured number, the backdrop of sound providing a vehicle over which the sax sings and rises. Some unexpected deviations make this a track that is as unpredictable as it is intriguing. The trumpet and trombone provide a brassy harmony, while the quiet central section is simply piano with a melody and echoey silence surrounding it, chords added for depth, percussion joins, and then the brass again enters, creating layers and providing strength to the melody. The vibraphone adds airy depths to this stand-out track.

‘July 1975 is a digitally enhanced rhythmic escapade with trance-like ergonomics until the 1.40 mark when the sax enters, creating a completely different track. Davies plays sax like a man possessed and knows when to pitch a note and place a pause in such ways to lift and capture the listener. A voice repeats ‘July 1975’ for no apparent reason in the middle third before the sax smoothly lifts and rises to top the backdrop sounds and sail away with the track to the end.

‘Kyiv’ is a track of beauty, with string effects underpinning a delicate melody on the piano, which creates the atmosphere into which the soprano saxophone drops, adding its voice, in turn giving way to synthesised electronic buzzed notes, creating an edge to the otherwise melodic arrangement. The string rise under this, indicating beauty lying within, and the soprano sax once again lifts its voice to sing across the top. And sing it does, sighing exquisitely heavenward, lifting the spirit towards the sky. There are blended contrasts in this track and a sense of powers at odds, and finally, at the finish, birdsong prevails, showing beauty is always there.

‘Mercy’ is heavier, to begin with, with emceebrownbear providing voice over the keyboard and rising sax as he speaks words from the Sermon On The Mount and other biblical references, the deep, sonorous voice providing powerful, clear messages. The tenor sax seems to echo the power and strength of the words. A terrific track.

‘Rising’ is short, quirky, and enjoyable, the rhythms picking their way around the melodies. Short and sweet, while ‘The Last Rain’ is another of Davies’ soundscapes, aided by digital programming and percussion, the sense of water dripping and pattering is cleverly recreated before the sax rises, adding a curve of beauty over the top. The track is a beautifully worked, melodic number.

‘Travel Without Movement’ is an atmospheric and beautiful number, with spacious effects, glorious sax, and many layers within.

This album is special. It has a huge number of ideas, each of which is taken, worked, and fits the theme of traveling beautifully. There is movement, change, and some similarities which tie things together, and the sax is used effectively to create moments of harmony, disharmony, and crazily effective music which both surprises, delights, and fulfils. From the gentle and beautiful ‘Dance, Robot Dance’ to the off-balance harmonics in ‘Rising’ and the powerful, spoken lines of ‘Mercy’, there is variety and the recording gives glimpses into the talents of the musician behind the release.

Personnel: Richard Davies – Trumpet, Trombone, Piano, Saxophones, cello, vibraphone, keyboard


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