Richard Francis, bio, discography, bandcamp, contact


Richard Francis & Bruce Russell
'Garage Music' CD
Released by Alone At Last, Russia, 2012

Label Press Release:
"Bruce Russell has an MA in Political Studies, and works as an information designer. He has previously worked in the field of archives management, during which time he ran the National Radio sound archive. As a sound artist Russell is known mainly for his involvement in New Zealand’s longest-running improvisational 'post-rock' group, the Dead C., although he also works in the field of radiophonic composition, and records as a solo artist and with the trio A Handful of Dust. He performs with electric guitar, electronic devices and analogue tapes. Bruce also runs the internationally respected record label Corpus Hermeticum.
Richard Francis (b. 1977) is representing the younger generation of NZ musicians, working mainly with electronics and noise matters. Auckland based sound artist, he is active for the last 16 years composing and improvising, releasing sound work on CD/LP, performing live concerts and producing sound installations. He uses recordings of acoustic and electronic sounds, a tone generator, analogue electronics and computer to produce sound works. He has released solo and collaborative albums on a number of international and local record labels including Korm Plastics, Monochrome Vision, Drone Records, Scarcelight, Digitalis Industries, Last Visible Dog, CPP and his own record label CMR. Recent published collaborative CDs have been with Jason Kahn (USA) and Francisco Lopez (Spain). He has performed live concerts at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Adam Art Gallery, De Affair Festival, Tuned City Festival, Issue Project Room etc. From 2003-2006 Francis co-operated ACROMA, an organization that coordinated a series of experimental music events in Auckland hosting local and visiting experimental sound artists. From 2004-2007 Francis was a member of the Alt.Music committee - New Zealands long running experimental music festival and performance series, and from 2005-06 served on the board of the Audio Foundation. This album is a collection of their collaborations in different modes. Three parts of "Garage" are their showcase of mail music exchange, the "Undead" piece is the justaposition of two solo sets from 2009, and "Live" is recorded during the concert at The Physics Room, Christchurch. Francis plays modular synthesizer and computer, and Russell uses guitar, tapes and clavioline (the old synthesizer like instrument invented in 1947). Limited edition of 500 copies in special packaging - custom made of textured paper, assembled by hand. Different surface tones and textures available: cream, vellum, pearl, verge, diamond white etc. Comes with two photos of modern buildings, first 50 copies are signed by the artists."


"Excellent set of post/live/studio collaborations between Bruce Russell of The Dead C and Richard Francis (Esso Steel/Toitu Seance/With Throats As Fine As Needles etc). Garage Music features three postal collaborations with Russell on guitar and Francis on computer and modular synthesizer that touch on the kind of hermetic/alchemical drone work of A Handful Of Dust while further alienating the guitar from anything that could remotely be described as rock, with Russell piloting six strings with alla the blunt force of a steamroller. “Undead” is even better, a layering of a solo show from each player that results in all sorts of spontaneous incidentals and aleatoric confluence, with Russell on clavioline and tapes and Francis on computer and modular synth. The final track might be the most psychedelic of the bunch, a live duo jam that trades F/X damaged eruptions of clavioline with the sound of analog fuzz, distant drones and hovering synth tones to generate an Industrial-minimalist classic. Packaged in elaborate fold-out card sleeves with postcard inserts."
Volcanic Tongue, Scotland, 2012

"The second immaculately packaged volume in Alone At Last’s new series of limited CDs, Richard Francis and Bruce Russell’s Garage Music finds itself sandwiched between Francisco López’s Untitled (2010) and Maurizio Bianchi’s Celtichants in a striking trio of début releases from this label. Bruce Russell will be familiar to most as a member of the legendary Dead C, and Francis is well known as a solo artist and serial collaborator with a long list of releases under his belt. This is his first collaboration with Russell, coming after similar experiments with luminaries like Birchville Cat Motel, Lawrence English and Tetuzi Akayama.
The shorter tracks (all titled ‘Garage’) were composed by mail exchange – one artist’s work being posted across the globe for the other to manipulate and build upon – and they form a whirring electronic core for the longer pieces to thunder around. Garages ’1′, ’2′ and ’3′ are also the noisiest pieces of music on the album, being closer to Francis’s sound than Russell’s and largely electronic. The tones are dense and angry, like damaged neon lights being forced to stay alive, occasionally firing off a spark you can sense the artists flinching at. Russell garrottes his guitar with its own electrified strings for ‘Garage 2′.
The two longer pieces – one of them (‘Live’) a rare live experiment between the two, the other (‘Undead’) a stunning juxtaposition of separate solo outings – use the Dead C’s willingness to pummel an audience into a numb-minded stupor to their advantage. Far more stable than the shorter electronic tracks, they stretch on across broken classical tape loops, mangled clavioline and droning, rumbling guitar. Patience is the watchword, and any explosion you might rightfully expect never comes. As ‘Live’ fades and the venue is left in silence there’s only one thing stopping a standing ovation; it’s not apathy, it’s sheer aural exhaustion."
Foxy Digitalis, USA, 2012

"La troisième et dernière production du label Alone At Last est une collaboration entre le néo-zélandais Bruce Russell (guitariste de The Dead C, et ce n’est pas rien) et son compatriote électronicien Richard Francis. Résultat d’échange de fichiers (les trois morceaux Garage), captation de concert (Live) ou juxtaposition de deux sets solo (Undead), Garage Music fait totalement honneur à l’excellente réputation de la scène noise improv du pays des All Blacks.
Finalement assez éloignée d’une abstraction sonore qui pourrait effrayer, notamment sur le second titre, la manière de Russell et Francis expose un faux calme – une des caractéristiques des sorties AAL – où les grincements et grésillements font jaillir des profondeurs un entrelacs abrupt et brinquebalant. Very nice indeed."
Le son du grisli, France, 2012

"The surprise release on Alone At Last is the CD by Richard Francis and Bruce Russell. The latter one of my heroes from the New Zealand improvisation scene, and the first one a genuine nice person. Their collaborative CD sees them working in various ways. Three pieces are collaborations through mail, one piece is made out of separate solo sets being layered together and one is a real live set. On the postal pieces, Russell plays guitar and live wise he uses clavioline and tapes whereas Francis gets the credit on all tracks for computer and modular synthesizer. An excellent work here. The three postal pieces, 'Garage 1' etc, are the most noisy ones of this lot working extensively with feedback sounds and heavy oscillations from the synths. The layered solo set piece work by contrast almost as an relaxing piece of shimmering tones but together they retain some of that heavy character that the postal pieces also have. But in that piece, the taped material also plays an important role it seems - saxophones, I was thinking of? Maybe I am mistaken. These five pieces are quite distinct pieces and have that trademark of New Zealand's finest in lo-fi rock based improvisation. In a different decade this would have made a great CD on Russell's own Corpus Hermeticum label. Great CD - the best out of these first three."
Vital Weekly, The Netherlands, 2012

"Ruský label Alone At Last nám předkládá album, jehož páteří je korespondenční spolupráce dvou novozélandských hudebníků - Bruce Russella a Richarda Francise. CD ukryté v tradičním papírovém skládaném obalu, typickém pro vydavatelství Alone At Last (který je trochu umění otevřít), obsahuje vlastní trilogii Garage a dva delší kusy Undead a Live, pohybující se kolem stopáže patnácti minut. Jak název napoví, jedině skladba Live zachycuje oba hudebníky společně pohromadě v reálném čase. Garage 1-3 tvoří kratší skladby, vzešlé z mailové korespondence a výměny souborů. Undead tvoří pak nejrozsáhlejší kompozici, která vznikla sloučením dvou sólových vystoupení obou hudebníků. Hudba na albu Garage Music je improvizovaná, o míře pozdější editace se můžeme domýšlet, vzhledem ke skladbě Undead tvořené spojením dvou nesourodých materiálů bych se domníval, že zúčastněné hudebníky bude prvek náhody zajímat. Zvukově konzistentní nahrávku tvoří převážně masivní drony a množství smyček a drobných motivů vyvěrajících z ničeho a ztrácejících se v dalším množství neidentifikovatelných zvuků. Přes syrovější, jednoznačně noisový charakter nahrávky má Garage Music nicméně i jisté relaxační kvality. Jako kdybyste Klausovi Schulzemu rozbili polovinu syntezátorů, na tu druhou mu dali několik distortionů a jemu samotnému dali vydatně napít nějakého omamného nápoje. Použité nástroje se ve zkresleném zvuku ztrácejí a je obtížné je rozlišit. Mnohdy lze dešifrovat Russellovu kytaru, ale ani ta nezní tak, jak jsme na ni zvyklí. Russell dále obsluhuje Clavioline - ikonický syntezátor z 50.let známý například z hitů Telstar či Runaway, ale ani tento poklad se v nahrávce neprojeví svým typickým zvukem. Rozpoznat nelze příliš ani Francisův modulární syntezátor. Všechny zvuky se podřizují celku, kterým je masivní noisový ambient postavený na mocných dronech linoucích se ze všech použitých nástrojů.
Části trilogie Garage nám poslouží jako úvod do zvukového světa obou pánů, vrchol alba ovšem přichází s kompozicí Undead. Skladba je výjimečná i svou délkou přes sedmnáct minut, ale především pak svou dramatičností. Dvě solová vystoupení spojená v jedno přinesla mnoho náhodných spojů, mnoho náhodných gradovaných napětí a také paradoxní souhry. Jedním slovem je tato kompozice zdaleka nejdobrodružnější z celého CD. Ve skladbě Live pak můžeme sledovat, jak souhra obou hudebníků vypadá doopravdy. Lovecraftovsky opulentní a temné basové burácení, pichlavé ječení claviolinu, šumění a praskání jak z temné Innsmouthské noci.
Kultivovaný noise, vhodný k večernímu poslechu, dýmce a ušlechtilému destilátu."
His Voice, Czech Republic, 2012

"The independent russian label 'Alone at Last' despite its name certainly does not leave us alone. This label announced his birth until march of this year and has already released three excellent works simultaneously. One of these discs are the "Celtichants" by Maurizio Bianchi. I have already talked about here on Chain DLK. And I also said about the painstaking care with which, our friend Dimitry (the eclectic producer of Alone At Last) realizes his records. A treatment that makes all limited edition copies as little gems contained into a package similar to an origami paper, with color and graphics intriguing and different.
The content of this review is one of this origami work, produced by a duo of great New-Zealand's noise- musicians. One of them is certainly more well known also here in Italy, a country from which I write. It is the volcanic Bruce Russell. And i hope most of you remember him thanks to its "free-noise manifesto". Bruce is also the musician who has created (with Michael Morley) a very important band like the DEAD C. The Dead C is considered by many people to be a real cult formation that invented the 'New Zealand-Noise'. Bruce Russell in the eighties, also founded an independent label named 'XpressWay Records' (the one that produced works of other noise artists such as Dadamah, Pin Group and Terminals) and after XpressWay experience Bruce created also another label, the Corpus Hermeticum, which published the works of his most recent project "A Handful Of Dust" (with the violinist Alastair Galbraith). For all of those reasons I think Bruce Russel is certainly a big name in the noise musical scene.
The other musician who played with Bruce in this "Garage Music" is Richard Francis. I don't know Richard before this work, but i've found many materials on the web and about it. And i think it is another interesting musician with different important works and many collaborations between New Zealand and Japan, also thanks to his project called Eso Steel. And here, into this work with Bruce, Richard proves certainly lives up to comparisons with the another great noise-designer.
We come finally to talk about this record of our two "noisers". It is a disc which contains 3 short tracks about 5 minutes each entitled at the same mode: Garage 1, 2 and 3. And contain also two beautiful and long suites of sound, of 13 and 17 minutes. The resulting product is a big example of industrial minimalism and noise ambient based on drones, with analog sounds, guitars and other synthesis music. But I want to tell about this work not only for the beautiful substance of his sound but also for the very particular form in which it was created and registered.
The two musicians have in fact cooperated at a distance. Initially only by exchanging mail, one with each other, between 2007 and 2009. In this way recorded all traces of guitar, played by Bruce, and synthesizers and computers, manipulated by Richard and finally assembly into these 3 short tracks i talk before, with the same title "Garage" . But also the two long suites are the result of a different and strange mix of live recordings in part sincronous and part a-sincronous.
One of those two long suites is titled "Undead" and is a strange marriage between two different recordings of a solo-set performed by authors. The gigs are recorded separately but are performed on the same day. The resulting fusion is really intense and highly processed. This long track is titled "Undead" and is certainly the best piece of the whole work. A carpet of sound industrial smoke and whirring motors that rotate and beat synchronously in-phase or anti-phase. Also in this track sound manipulation and real-time computer and synthesizers owned by Richard and cords and ribbons clavioline played by Bruce, create a dough environmental dense and liquid from which it emerges hypnotic listening to fatigue. Really a great job.
For me Undead is very beautiful, alienating and also personally upsetting for the kind of ambient noise-that in some instances is created. With drones sounds and cyclic sinusoidal rhythms. All of these drones going to overlap, defeating and counter-beating, to meet at the end, even if quite by chance, on the same rhythmic pulse.
The fifth and last track of this album, also long, is titled simply "Live" and was recording during a live real-time concert. This concert happens in February 2009 and in the same place as other live tracks. And finally he sees, for the first time in this work, the two musicians play together your noise and industrial music. Live is a great final noise gig for all of us. To leave us "Not alone at last..!"
I close here my review. But I will tell you that, even if our Bruce and Richard are surely accustomed to frequent the lands and seas far away from our Europe, as I listened to their record I imagined the ideal backdrop to their live set with sounds of this type. I hope these two noise-surfers will forgive me if I don't imagine them lying on the sands under their New-Zealand's sun but I see them play their industrial musics in a nocturnal gig set, amid the ruins of a factory and near the cold seas of north Europe. I imagine also, behind them and their musics, only the dark blue color of sky and the grey of clouds moving slowly over the Finns seawaves. "
Chain DLK, USA, 2012