Tokafi  (March 2010)
With "Four Malleable", the double CD released by and/OAR in late 2009,
Richard Garet offers us, if not a definitive statement of his work, at least a
focused itinerary through his sound production over the last six years. Garet
is a visual artist as well as a sound composer, working with video and
photography in addition to the sound- and image-process installations and
performances for which he increasingly is becoming known. The process of
working a given material for its internally-defined qualities, without regard to
associational or representational meanings, is a major focus of Garet’s
work, whether he is working with projected light, digital sound, printer ink, or
acrylic on canvas. With “Four Malleable” we get to see that process at work in
a number of ways, and this release gives us the perfect vantage from which
to appreciate the strengths of this approach, as well as to view some of its
contradictions.

“Nocturne” is the first and most recent of the CD’s compositions, and the
release’s strongest work. Tonal arrangements hover without resolving into
actual harmony with an undercurrent of digital grit running throughout. This
gives way to a hazy squall of white noise midway through the piece, then to a
kind of feedback tone which in turn evolves slowly into an ultra-high
frequency buzz and hiss, and a return to static, arriving at an abrupt full stop.
The open question in any of Garet’s sound works seems to be, “how does a
material in the process of becoming, be it through a “natural” unguided
process or through a “compositional” process, come to find its form? And
how does one recognize this form as appropriate, or even necessary, to the
material?” “Nocturne” takes up this issue and brings it to a tight and logical
extension, giving us 30 minutes of what feels like an effortless, casual
unfolding that on closer inspection becomes a marker of the work’s formal
rigor. Garet puts many things in play in his complex works, often placing
contradictory impulses and ideas in dynamic tension. When this balance is
struck, as in “Nocturne”, the result is quite powerful.

One immediately apparent touchstone for “Nocturne”, and to a lesser extent
for all the pieces on “Four Malleable”, is Illusion of Safety’s late 1990’s work,
especially their own double CD “Of and The”. This process of balancing
impulses is a driver in both epic-length works: balancing noise and repose,
natural and post-processed sound, meditative and sinisterly imposing
gestures. Garet takes IOS’s instincts to transformation to another level of
abstraction, rarely touching down on recognizable field recordings on the one
hand or on traditional musical scale on the other. This parallel with Garet’s
work extends to an extent to other artists in Illusion of Safety’s orbit, including
Kevin Drumm and Jim O’Rourke, who share an interest in working with the
heft and menace of noise in a refined manner.

As suggested by the title, both J.M.W Turner and Claude Debussy also
surface as resonant touchstones for “Nocturne”. Both provide telling cues to
Garet’s use of abstraction, and the processing of recordings into passages
of organized sound. Despite Garet’s stated interest in sound’s purely
inherent qualities, the work seems to strive for a kind of imagistic perspective
as much as for a pure abstract plane of affect. “Nocturne” is so effective partly
because its abstraction does not arrive pure, but rather “infected” by a stong
visual sense. But a visual sense that is at the same time always held at bay,
as if through the kind of blurring in Turner’s own nocturnes – an abstraction
through complexity, of holding too much of the environment (the mist, the
smoke, the shadow) in the image. Garet’s sound shares this additive logic,
developing sheets of interpenetrating detail rather than reducing to a focal
point.

“Sceneries” shares this emphasis on the visual, in both title and sound,
starting with high piercing tones and an almost tidal recurrence of different
drones, fading finally into what sounds like soft traffic. Returning to Debussy,
we can hear how much of Garet’s work is also indebted to classical formal
structure: each of the four works on “Four Malleable” are almost exactly 30
minutes long; each is structured in a progression of sections, one might say
“movements”, that pass into each other more of less smoothly; and within
each section there is a consistent micro-structure of multiple voices coming
slowly into and out of focus in relation to one another. It is interesting to
balance this apparent structure against what the liner notes suggest is a
program of pure sound exploration without reference to any kind of external
or generic model. What one finds coming from the sound is a rather more
dynamic complex of factors, logics, and effects. It is very much a process
which is unresolved, however, and so the pieces vary in their effects, or
effectiveness. In the case of “Sceneries”, the work stays somewhat moored
in its structure, each sound content to stay within some invisible boundary.

“From Modified Tapes”, perhaps the most interesting piece of the quartet,
shows this unresolved tension between compositional logics in yet another
way. The work is developed from partially erased and re-recorded cassette
tapes, and it is bathed in that medium’s hazy mid-range hiss. It is fascinating
to hear what is in many ways the backdrop to what might have been, the
empty stage of low-fidelity sound, organized and magnified to the focus of
listening. It is the most easily readable as a process-based piece, and yet it
also begins to approach “Nocturne”’s Turner-esque sublime in its near-total
landscape of what was once background noise. Until a moment at 18
minutes, however, when what sound like voices from the radio burble up in
the mix. The effect is quite interesting, if vexing: the piece turns from a
landscape back into a portrait, one might say: the voice is impossible to
ignore or to assimilate into listening the same way one would any other type
of abstract sound, and its gravity here is such that it forces all the
surrounding and following sounds into relation with it. Noise becomes noise
around the voice again, a frame, backdrop, or container, but no longer the
thing-in-itself focus of the work’s being. It is in some ways a breaking of the
integral character of the piece in favor of a counter-logic, or counterforce, that
complicates the work and refuses to allow it to resolve or cohere totally.

This occurrence of spoken language in “From Modified Tapes” operates in a
way similar to the release’s liner notes: it insists on a logic which the work
overall is somehow interested in complicating, or subverting. The liner notes
seem to disavow any referentiality in the work, for example, instead putting
forth a rather self-evident list of sound qualities that Garet focuses on,
including “time, pitch, timbre, amplitude… and structure”. But this is simply
another way to say one is attending to the work, rather than a statement
about what the work is. It functions more as a kind of dodge or feint away
from meaning than any kind of engagement with it. One is left with the feeling
that a potent subconscious force flows throughout this work that keeps
elements in a fascinating tension, but at the same time holding them away
from a full resolution of form. Or perhaps it is that the primary formal tension
is precisely between conscious control and the free becoming of the
material; between a knowing control and a calculated suspension of
knowledge, in order to let the world breathe through the work, and perhaps
by extension through the composer.

The material has its logic, its needs, and its formal tectonics, while Garet
has his own, which like those of the material may perhaps only come to the
surface slowly and through an intensive dynamic of friction, the results of
which will eventually be called “the composition”. It is partly this uncertainty
about the pieces, about how they arrived to us, whether through magic,
calculation, or chance, that makes the process of encountering them so
intriguing.  (Andy Graydon)
Artist: Richard Garet
Title: Four Malleable
Catalog Number: and/34
Release Year: 2009
Format: CD x 2
Status:  Sold Out

Track List:

CD 1:
01.
Nocturne
02. Sceneries

CD 2:
01.
From Modified Tapes
02. Imaginative Elements
Four Malleable is comprised of what are among Richard's best
compositions from four different years: Imaginative Elements (2004), From
Modified Tapes (2005), Sceneries (2006), and Nocturne (2009). Four
previously unreleased works that place the mind's eye inside malleable
forms and blurred locations.

Richard Garet works interweaving multiple media including moving image,
sound, live performances, and photography. He completed his MFA at Bard
College, and was awarded the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency
Grant, Jerome Foundation Residency Grant through IPR, and the New York
State Council on the Arts Grant through Lehman College. He recently
completed a three months artist residency at Issue Project Room, NY in
2010, and previously completed a residency at Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd
Wright School of Architecture, Scottsdale, Arizona in 2006. Recent exhibitions
and performances include: Fine Arts Museum of Montreal, San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA),
Barcelona, Spain; Art Museum of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico; and El
Museo del Barrio, NYC. Additional exhibitions include Never Can Say
Goodbye at the former Tower Records store; Sonochrome: at the Public
Trust Gallery, Dallas, Texas; Leervoll, Diapason Gallery, and more. His
sound compositions have been published through sound art labels such as
and/OAR, Non Visual Objects, Winds Measure Recordings, Unframed
Recordings, Con-V, Leerraum, White_Line Editions, and Contour Editions.
Additionally Garet currently directs the independent media label Contour
Editions publishing works that explore the various possibilities of sound and
light. Garet also co-curates with Louky Keijsers Koning, the monthly
performance event LMAKseries, which integrates film, video, sound art, and
media performance into the gallery's mission at LMAK Projects in the L.E.S,
NYC.

Richard Garet is interested in the phenomena found and produced in time-
based media, and human beings' relationship with both artificial and natural
environments. His audiovisual exploratory steps are focused on concept and
function, material and process, listening, viewing, and experience. Even
though Garet’s work suits the standard gallery setting, many of his other
activities as an artist explore the various practices of experimental sound and
video performance. All of these modes are additional ways in which Garet’s
work exposes the audience to real time explorations of audiovisual
processes, emphasizing the experiential, the sensorial, and the active-
reception of the body and mind. Richard Garet states, “when creating a piece
I reflect on what the work is meant to accomplish, how it functions in
relationship to the space, how it affects the audience, and how sound and
visual content are connected to one another. These questions determine my
choices and influence the direction of the work."
Aquarius Records  (December 2009)
Richard Garet is a multimedia artist who has been quite active in and around
New York for many years now. Our only exposure to his work was by way of
an excellent if under-appreciated collaboration with perennial AQ-favorite
Brendan Murray entitled Of Distance, which came out earlier in 2009.
Unfortunately, we missed out on a couple of Garet's earlier recordings on
NonVisualRecordings and Winds Measure, but when and/OAR announced
an album from Mr. Garet, we were quite intrigued. Given the strength of this
recording, he's definitely making us reconsider going back and digging up
those earlier records. This double disc set is a fantastic collection of hushed
drone music, cracked silences, stacked tape hiss, controlled feedback, and
stoic masses of gray noise.

The four extended pieces date from 2004-2009, and all exhibit a restrained
aesthetic balancing an environmental stillness from various field recordings
with the grandeur of minimalist strategies in composition. In many ways, it
makes a lot of sense that Garet would be drawn to work with Brendan
Murray, as both generate work that oozes with a hypnotic, wholly
monochromatic sound design that could act as the soundtrack to a
sandstorm as viewed from the other side of the Sahara Desert or to missile
tests that are supposed to be hidden from public view. Something ominous
is at hand in Garet's work, and the mystery as to what exactly 'it' is works to
his advantage. Amidst these accumulations of layered textures and slow
gravitational orbits of sonic detritus, Garet alludes to the swells of oceanic
currents, the nocturnal buzzing of amassed insects, and reverberant echoes
bellow from the depths of some underground bunker. All of which falls
somewhere near Joe Colley, Tarab, John Duncan, and Coelacanth. So yeah,
we dig it.
Downtown Music Gallery  (December 2009)
"Four Malleable" is four compositions containing four different sound
sources, recorded in four different years, each ranging around the half-hour
mark.  All four tracks delve into the microsounds and drones that have been
championed by fellow travelers with whom he shares some musical
kinsmanship; Francisco Lopez, Brendan Murray, and the Onkyo crew. As
Garet points a microscope at these small and delicate (possibly even
decaying) sounds, it highlights the vibrant life of the nano world in which we
barely encounter.  He handles each tone with such precision and
gentleness, guiding the frequencies deep into your ear canal to resonate
your cranial cavity.  A master at his craft and very impressive indeed!  Job well
done Senor Garet! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!  (Chuck Bettis)
Just Outside  (December 2009)
Four pieces, each about 1/2 hour long, from 2004-2009. Garet is an expert in
the art of the "grainy drone", taking sound sources that may be natural or
industrial, usually with some amount of variegated texture, some particulate
aspect, extending and layering them into sheets of sound many plies thick,
the material always capable of being listened to on several levels, the
re-listener likely to pick up aspects he missed the first few go-rounds. They
often shift, as does the first track here, "Nocturne", from relatively consonant
and soft to more abrasive and granular, though rarely if ever very harsh. The
tracks are presented in reverse chronological order and, though I enjoyed
them all to some degree, I really liked the older two the best; not sure what
that says! Those earlier ones have a bit more grit and grime in the works,
providing more of a textural variation between the sine hums and the detritus.
The last track, "Imaginative Elements", also contains a kind of sparseness
that's something of a tonic in relation to the earlier (later) ones. All would be
nice to hear within a video environment, btw, which is how I've experienced
his work on occasion. But on the whole, the four works are fine and excellent
samples of both Garet's music and this neck of the sonic woods generally.
Recommended!  (Brian Olewnick)
Paris Transatlantic  (February 2010)
A double CD featuring compositions dating between 2004 and 2009, Four
Malleable is an excellent introduction to Richard Garet's strategies. One of
the most noticeable traits of this artist's vision is the constant transition
between different states, as, with a degree of analytical coldness, he
designs platforms for sonic events to develop gradually yet unpredictably,
giving the listener a chance to connect with a particular environment before
becoming an active psychoacoustic participant in its progressive alteration.
Several of these soundscapes tend towards instability only partially
camouflaged by Garet's accurate placement of detail. 2005's "From Modified
Tapes" explores settings that range from the accumulation of murmured
pressure and reverberant vibration (substantial to the point of near-opacity) to
the ever-puzzling seduction of remote metropolitan echoes. The processing
filter lets emerge just a few identifiable factors – heavily equalized voices, in
this case – from an unbearably dense fog hiding whatever meaning might lie
behind. The composer declares to have been focussing on "materiality,
malleability, process, and on the aural digital permutations resulted from
computer synthesis". Yet the sharp nuances of certain frequencies, fused
with the absence of physical weight typifying some of these pieces, dispel
any doubt relative to concreteness, for in Garet's conception tactile matter
seems to be a mere instrument for attempting an improved classification of
our fundamental nature.  (Massimo Ricci)
Igloo  (November 2010)
An astonishing talent continues rising as Richard Garet slowly unveils the
richly embedded hues that encompass his latest release,
Four Malleable.
Broken into four stealthy long parts Nocturne offsets things from the top, long
before we cross any bridge. A bit of a luminescent drone collage harkening
early Thomas Köner. Lapping and drifting, then soaring it’s quite oceanic in
scope, and a bit of head trip. It scales outward, feels quite expansive, yet
subtly rocks the intimate side of the center of your chest. Deep bass
rumbling makes way for something that simulates a creepy, low-fi invasive
presence, then quiets to a hollow atonal frequency and elapses into static
white noise like a fine mist waterfall. And that’s just track one. The remaining
work follows suit, with high-pitched sine waves and molded experimentation.
Two untitled tracks couldn’t be more different, one a bit unnerving dabbling in
minimal crispy static while the other sounds like a document of floating in
open space, muffled voices, et al. At thirty-one minutes 'Sceneries' is the
lengthiest track here and doesn’t skimp on the tonal/pitch play of bells and
motors that bring about both sounds of rapid intensity and breathy
sensuality. Though take this one a half hour at a time, especially for
beginners. If you’ve got a surround system this double disc set is a must —
Instructions: play loud in low light.  (TJ Norris)
Scrapyard Forecast  (January 2010)
Richard Garet is a name that I'm not all too familiar with. He's a visual artist
from New York who creates scores of wonderful drone music as
accompaniment to his films. His collaboration with Brendan Murray released
in March entitled Of Distance is a big year end favourite amongst critics. That
albums in the mail, but I can assure you that if its even remotely as good as
Four Malleable, its would have probably ended up on this list too. Four
Malleable is another album that turns its focus on the tactile drone, a sub
genre that has recently ignited every flammable part of my psyche. Garet
focuses a microscope on his compositions, the fading in and out of gritty
minimalist fragments is only interrupted by pockets of mini-typhoon swells
and extraterrestrial frequencies. Almost two hours of material here, and its all
worth while.