Tilting at Windmills.
This album is music created mainly with experimental thumb pianos, broken guitars, and toy keyboards.
The sounds range from unprocessed to multi-processed through various effect chains and computer software. There is a special emphasis on harmonics, distortion, and texture within the subtle discourse of background and foreground.
The songs are a compilation of improv captures and modular open-ended assemblages. They involve an examination of the interplay between feeling and conceptual strategies. The moods are diverse, moving on a spectrum of the gritty to the pretty.
I have been building instruments for over 25 years, and for the last 15 years have been investigating a variety of materials, mechanisms, and techniques for the thumb piano: plucked idiophone, lamellaphone, mbira, sansa, kalimba, likembe. The same sensibility that applies to the method of making experimental instruments, where the quirky, unconventional and unique character of certain configurations is cultivated, also flows into the music.
A big inspiration for me in regards to building musical instruments is the work of Harry Partch and the strongest musical influences are African Music, World Folk Music, and Jazz.
This is #8 in a series of solo studio projects.
Issue 244 June 2004
American multi-instrumentalist RP Collier plays thumb piano, toy synthesizer, guitar and drum machine in various combinations. Titles such as \"Losing at Solitaire\" hint at a modest and self-deprecating nature but the overall title of this project suggests a quixotic spirit quietly churning beneath his humility. There are faint echoes of Harry Partch here, particularly in \"Solitaire\", whose thumb pianism, refracted and distended in a hall of home studio mirrors is positively gamelan in its scale and resonance. But this is preceded by the charming greeting of \"Aperture\", in which Collier\'s synthesizer gently cascades over an ethnologically forged loop of keyboard.
Many of Collier\'s titles are self-descriptive, such as \"Sunrise: Mars Colony Biodome 5\", grainy, ruddy and dawning, or \"Plinkage\", which evokes images of a roiling body of water glittering in the moonlight. The disc has no lowlights as such but highlights include the scorched guitar policies of \"Afterburn\" and \"Yxu\", in which all the instruments come together for a multitrack house party, albeit with each in various parts of the room carrying on lively monologues rather than conversing. Tilting@Windmills is hardly vast in its scope nor does it open up new musical wormholes. However, the allotment in the new sonic space which Collier lovingly tends here is well worth a visit. - David Stubbs
Dead Angel issue 60
The 15 tracks on this self-released effort (available via CD Baby) are not so much songs as they are short bursts of repetitive and spooky sounds, suitable for chillin\' and dronin\'. Using mainly thumb pianos (possibly treated), broken guitars, toy keyboards, and various efx, R. P. Collier manages to create a wide variety of sounds, frequently highly hypnotic sounds at that. Voice, synth, and a drum machine come into play from time to time, but mainly it\'s all about the mighty drone, endless and neverless. This is the music of the Navidson House, o my trembling li\'l goat-children. Dark and spooky, ambient and sometimes melodic, like the reverberating sounds of animals and insects carrying out secret rituals in the vestibule of an abandoned church. Dancing tunes from a mechanical forest on the edge of oblivion. Soothing tones from a ghost world, occasionally broken by rigid beats from the drum machine as disturbing sounds lurk in the background. Such a soothing sound on the verge of paranoia, suitable for your next dark and contemplative moment in the chill room.... RKF
Portland\'s RP Collier has decided to forge a novelty album of sorts, consisting of a thumb piano, a toy synth, broken guitars and a drum machine. Essentially amounting to a sonic experiment, tilting@windmills is surprisingly good, due primarily to Collier\'s knack for layering his elements in a generally primitive, non-intrusive fashion. The album breathes, sometimes in short bursts and gasps, but mostly in long, smooth cycles that invite the listener to decompress.
I may not be able to fully appreciate the audio journey that Collier has elected to undertake, but I believe he\'s on to something. His toy piano frequently assumes the luminous essence of koto bells while his synth scratches and howls across the top. Primal meets provincial? Calm versus frantic? Or is Collier merely juxtaposing opposites because it\'s the most obvious dramatic effect? It\'s hard to tell what his ultimate rationale is, since the songs here are mostly formless and occasionally underdeveloped, but as individual soundscapes go they\'re intriguing and subtly soothing. Even the more aggressive arrangements engender a musical Stockholm syndrome; only during the most feedback-filled, abrasive tracks was I truly bothered by the synth. If Collier is analyzing the modular soundscape on tilting@windmills, he\'s made the window into his study worth peeking through. JK
the Portland Mercury Vol. 4 No. 31 Jan 1-7 2004
Tilting@Windmills (Self-Released) - This longtime Portland musician made a curious experimental record from thumb pianos, broken guitars, toy pianos, and subwoofers that varied somewhere between accidental Congolese rhythms and visceral psych-outs... JS