Stephanie Richards, originally from Canada, has established herself as a trumpet player and composer while living in Brooklyn, where she’s collaborated with Butch Morris, John Zorn, and Henry Threadgill. She has expanded the trumpet’s sonic possibilities through extended techniques such as layering sounds emitted from the bell with close-miked valve noise. On Fullmoon, however, the layers arise instead from the sampler of Dino J. A. Deane, who makes live repetitions and manipulations of Richards’ playing and mixes them with a swirl of gurgles and pointillistic jingle-jangles. Deane’s diverse associations intersect with those of Richards’ through Zorn and Morris, but also pass through Bill Frisell and early studio work with Ike and Tina Turner.
Fullmoon consists of nine titles, four of which refer to the moon (“New Moon,” “Half Moon,” “Full Moon Part I,” “Full Moon Part II”). These lunar tracks are the musical equivalent of wandering lost in an enchanted moonlit forest. The remaining tracks are named after instruments—piano, snare, gong. and timpani—which are not actually played but are instead used to create sympathetic vibrations when sound waves from the trumpet are directed towards them. The effects are as one might expect: the gongs emit eerie, high-pitched screeches, and the timpani add a deep resonance. The overall results are emotionally charged and hauntingly musical. For example, “Snare” is driven by a clever juxtaposition of background electronics, evoking an industrial wasteland, and trumpet blasts are looped over that, reminding one of a train yard, while Richards punches in with wailing trumpet lines that never quite break into melody.
Fullmoon is a captivating CD that’s all about atmosphere.