Rick Myers - Obstacle 79: Memory Is Current LP (Open Mouth, 2022)
"Obstacle #79: MEMORY IS CURRENT offers a sequence of works for player piano, a device which captured Rick Myers’ imagination in 2017. Divining a method from mathematical measurements and intuitive drawing systems, Myers obstructed piano rolls using adhesive tape. Performed in this altered state on a player piano in the hallway of Easthampton Machine and Tool in Easthampton, Massachusetts, the music embedded in the rolls was extricated from its history and given fresh life. Restriction forged a pathway to expanse. Here are the enchanting results.
The workings of the machine are evident throughout, wistfully recalling music box fantasias, even as the tumbling notes confound expectations. The meticulously constructed scenarios invariably run amok, and in between chaos and melody, frustration and freedom, an impossible helix fashions its own celestial music. The sounds grumble against one another, summoning subterranean promises and unearthing unexpected delights.
As the tracks run into one another, Myers interposes spoken dispatches, detailing aspects of the story behind the record. Like the sounds of the piano, they transcend mere reportage. Increasingly obscured over the course of the two sides, these ghostly interjections are part of the sonic fabric, enhancing both the narrative and acousmatic aspects of the project.
Rick Myers is an artist whose decades-long career has studiously disregarded the confines of medium – there are books, drawings, sculptures, installations, exhibitions, videos, performances, design projects, texts, and combinations thereof. Sound, as evidenced by his recent focus on recorded material, is but another potent arrow in his quiver. Plus, it’s nothing new – he cut his teeth as a DJ.
This record is an interior travelogue shot through with ecstatic truth. In furthering the process of obstruction by which the player piano makes its music possible, Myers is, in his own words, looking to “cast and dislodge time.” Like God or Loss or Love, Time is one of the bedeviling bottomless wells from which the most affecting art springs. This is the real thing.
Rick Myers is not in search of lost time, he is attempting to lose it, and in so doing to chart the inevitable trajectory of that loss, of its apparent disappearance, its peculiar habit of hiding in plain sight." - OM