Electric Counterpoint is an established and respected classic of its genre. Overdubbed recordings modelled on the Pat Metheny original have become increasingly thick on the ground of late, and live performances with more than a dozen guitarists on stage are by no means uncommon. All this is to be welcomed, since the hypnotic textures of the work as a whole and the punchy rhythmic content of the final movement still retain the subtle allure that first made its mark in the late ’80s. That said, the at times almost robotic content of the individual lines leaves little scope for individual interpretation. Subsequent studio versions tend to differ only in detail from what Metheny achieved almost three decades ago. So it is with this 2014 release, in which Richard Durrant plays all the instruments and successfully delivers the goods, but does not break significant new ground.
Thus it follows that the material that piece is coupled with will be the determinative factor whether or not this disc will be a desirable purchase. This is where Durrant really scores, particularly with the six-part studio creation that gives the album its title. Employing a range of guitars bathed in electronics, Cycling Music uses language compatible with Electric Counterpoint, while resolutely ploughing its own furrow. When I suggested to Durrant that the music contained a hint of early Mike Oldfield (“tubular bells,” et al), especially in the movement titled “Ballad of the Rusting Bikes,” he raised no objections and seemed genuinely pleased to have his work placed in such exalted company.
Having now perhaps sold this superbly recorded offering to virtually anyone who was around in the ’70s, it just remains for me to voice my unconditional approval of the excruciating pun in the title of the closing track, which is a suitably quirky take on J.S. Bach’s Prelude BWV 999.
Album Info.: Richard Durrant: Cycling Music. Steve Reich: Electric Counterpoint. Durrant: J.S. Bike. (LongMan 063CD)