Until I received the press release for the album RXB3 I had not heard of Richard X Bennett or his music. The email included the words “Richard a very intelligent and unique musician who is doing things differently”, which, if I am honest, usually brings out my cynical nature. So, does Richard X Bennett live up to the description with the twelve tracks on this album?
Richard X Bennett says of his latest album release:
Each song begins as a bespoke piano pattern. The melodies evolve from these patterns, resulting in a multitude of ideas that exist together. I create modern music with a melodic and funky fabric and then tear it apart. My expectation is that you can listen, dance or vibe to this music at your leisure and pleasure. Listen closer and you will hear jazz, contemporary classical and Indian raga elements threaded throughout.Press release, 2021
‘I Come from the Future’ gives a clear indication of the musical structure of the album with its use of repeating piano patterns underlying the melodic lines that can be heard over the top. This gives the tune a feeling of familiarity and something new all at the same time as well as introducing the listener to Richard’s mellifluent style. ‘This is My Code’ is similar to the opening track but punchier with added tonal depth, the left hand playing the underlying pattern while the right hand provides the melody.
‘Its Only July’ is played at a slower tempo than the previous two tracks and gives an opportunity to hear the bass playing of Adam Armstrong. This is one of the stand-out tracks for me and evoked a feeling of listening to the passing of time: a beautifully written, reflective piece of music. The tune ‘Laughing Lion’ breaks up the mood between the previous tune and the one that follows. It is a short upbeat tune that highlights Richard’s approach to RXB3. ‘One Voice’ was co-written with Paula Jeanine Bennett and is another thoughtful piece with some nicely placed stop time moments. ‘Made from Stone’ – featured in the video shown below – changes the mood completely with its rhythm and blues vibe, not what I was expecting which left me wondering what else was to come from an album that was not going to sit in one stylistic groove.
‘North Atlantic’ has a brooding quality to it with the left hand deep in the piano’s lower register. The melodic lines are much lighter in comparison, which gives this tune constantly shifting elements of light and shade. I found this number fascinating as I did the next track on the album, ‘Vape’. Richard introduces the melodica which gives the tune a slow, sultry Argentine tango feel. There are some wonderful bass lines on this track along with just the right, light touch from drummer Julian Edmond.
‘All Organic’ lifts the mood with its jaunty lines and deft drum patterns. ‘Plastique’ keeps the buoyant feel going but there is an injection of urgency about the tune that does not quite let the listener settle and the piano lines towards the end have an almost sinister feel about them. ‘The Reckoning’ is the darkest tune on the album, which should come as no surprise considering the track’s title. The tune grows from a low growl and then just sits, constantly brooding and menacing before you realise that it has come to a quiet indistinct end: great writing and playing.
‘Tum Hi Ho’ is a Bollywood standard written by Mithoon for the movie Aashiqui 2. Richard explains:
In 2019 I played Tum Hi Ho as a lighter encore for my raga concerts in India. Ballads should be all about the feel. If you’re noticing my technique then I’ve done something wrong.Press release, 2021
I didn’t notice the technique and this is a wonderful tune on which to bring the album to a close.
I enjoyed RXB3, it is different to a lot of what I listen to and I found it refreshing, interesting and thought provoking. I did hear the jazz elements, but it was the classical music components that drew me in. Many jazz musicians cite JS Bach as an influence and it is that Baroquian fugue style that fits so well with jazz music and fits so well with this album, an album I should be more than happy to have in my collection. So what of that emailed description of Richard X Bennett? An intelligent musician, certainly. Unique? Well I shall leave that for you to decide.
RGB3 released on the Ubuntu Music label 28 May. 2012
Richard X Bennett – piano, melodica. Adam Armstrong – bass. Julian Edmond – drums
1. I Come from the Future. 2. This is My Code. 3. Its Only July. 4. Laughing Lion. 5. One Voice. 6. Made from Stone. 7. North Atlantic. 8. Vape. 9. All Organic. 10. Plastique. 11. The Reckoning. 12. Tum Hi Ho.