Ris Paul Ric Purple Blaze

Ris Paul Ric Purple Blaze
Purple Blaze is the debut solo album of Chris Paul Richards, former front-man for the Dischord-reared DC trio Q and Not U. Over three albums, that band built up a rabid cult following for their originality and enigmatic songwriting. Arty but not quite art, poppy but not quite pop, punky but not quite punk, Q and Not U were as hard to categorise as they were familiar. In this respect, Purple Blaze rides the same lines. At their foundations, songs like "Hanging from the Grapevines” and "The Sleeparound” could have been slower numbers on a Q and Not U album, but without the band Richards has pulled them in an altogether direction. He takes the singer-songwriter approach — that’s expected — but the real gem of this album is careful attention to the sonic elements in the post-production process. Richards worked with Canadian laptop artist Tim Hecker, who recorded, produced, mixed, and then mastered the album. The finished result is a meticulously crafted listening experience, in which every note shines and reverberates, where songs refract into warm, granular ambience. Not Q nor U, Purple Blaze nevertheless confirms Richards’ strengths as a talented songwriter bolstered by unique vision and eclectic taste. Highly recommended.

Song-wise, Purple Blaze is similar to quieter Q & not U material, but the real shift here is sonically. How important was it for you to craft a very detailed sound for this album? I’m glad you hear it that way. I think popular culture has taught us to interpret music almost completely in terms of style, presentation and attitude and it’s hard to actually recognise music on a purely sonic level, or a texture. I definitely believe in exploiting style and attitude to the fullest, but I really wanted the sounds to feel different when they touched your ears.

How was it developing this material outside the group creative dynamic of a band? Very free. Q and Not U was all about freedom, but we still had to go through the labours of reconciliation during our songwriting. With these Ris songs I took a "first-thought-best-thought” approach. It felt nice to put something together on a quick burst of energy, rather than chipping away at it. I counted on Tim Hecker to do most of the necessary chipping when he mixed the tracks. (Academy Fight Song)