Nick Riff - voc, g
Peter Platten - synth, keyb
Kevin Hines - b
Rob King - perc
Carl Hatcher - voice mutations
CD/download from www.17f.ch) Fourth in the Riffdisc series, The Universe is Mental sees Mr Riff, stepping along into some spacey psychedelic instrumentals, sounding not unlike those huge sequence driven epics that Tangerine Dream were so good at creating in the mid seventies. Of course, cynics may suggest that with the technology of today, this is all to easy (maybe it is), however Nick assures us that the music was created without the use of MIDI, drum machines or synchronisation, meaning the musician has to listen and respond as he creates the sounds. All this means that we have here a huge pulsating beast of a record, with a human heart, generating a warmth that lift the music high into space, with a smile and a positive glow. Opening with the electronic sweetness of Cast into the Firmament, a beating drum keeps the pace as the twinkling ripples of the music flow over you with a calm assurance. Once settled, Paleo Vision adds a weird funk to the proceedings, Tim Blake meeting 808 State, in a warehouse on the dark side of the moon, which is much better than it possibly sounds. As we progress through the album, the music ebbs beautifully, the rhythmic elements being matched with patches of lightness, such as The Limits of Perception, a blissful track with a relaxed piano dancing through the clouds. Although mainly instrumental, the addition of vocals and saxaphone (played by Jhaz Sigeret) on the lilting Forever offer another layer to the album,before Sumerian Spaceport plunges straight back into the space rock pool, a warped eastern theme taking the music into weird territory for 5 glorious minutes. This psychedelic sheen continues on the excellent Snake Charmers Ritual, a track that seems to shimmer out of the speakers, a hypnotic mirage of great power. Stretching out over ten minutes 30 seconds Implant Procedure Explained takes a different path with droning swirls of synth and voice samples being thrown through all manner of effects, creating a stuttering monster of a tune, bringing to mind some of the finer work by The Orb. Finally the lighter tones return, with vocals woodwind and that lovely piano drifting slowly back to earth,a falling leaf landing softly on warm ground.
A Review and Interview with Nick Riff by Jeff Fitzgerald -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From Aural Innovations #42 (May 2011) Nick Riff has been playing on the music scene since the late 70´s, and over the course of a long career he has created some of the best psychedelic music and space rock out there. He´s still at it today; right in the midst of a series of CD´s called The Riffdisc series. I caught up with the very busy Nick and had the pleasure of talking with him via e-mail to find out more about this fascinating series of CD´s as well as a look into Nick´s ideas and insights, his past and a little sneak preview into his future! First my review of Nick´s latest album, The Universe is Mental, then onto the interview! Nick Riff ? "The Universe Is Mental" (Riffdisc 2011, Riffdisc 004) Nick Riff has been playing on the psychedelic music scene since the late 70´s, exploring many different dimensions of psychedelia and space rock. With the Riffdisc series, Nick set out to release a sequence of albums, each one focusing on a different aspect of his music. The Universe is Mental is the fourth in the series following Magick Museum, The World´s Alive (featuring Nick Riff´s Freak Element), and last year´s excellent Photon Shift. The Universe Is Mental steers away (for the most part) from song writing, to focus on a sort of organic ambient rhythmic fusion. It´s not the first time Nick has taken a more textural approach to music, even within the Riffdisc series. The lengthy track Pre-Millennium Transmissions from The World´s Alive was a deeply ambient, cosmic odyssey woven around modern jazzy rhythms. But Nick´s approach on The Universe is Mental is entirely different. Nick creates a kind of future primitivism where cosmic synths and deep organic layers meet up with ancient rhythms derived from Paleolithic sources. The music on The Universe Is Mental, however spacey, is always rhythmic. Drawing from ancient sources, the rhythms are simple, powerful, trance inducing. The rhythms played by ancient peoples were meant to guide listeners on their spiritual journeys, and I get the sense that this is exactly what Nick is trying to do here. The simple tapping of the drum (reminiscent of Native American rhythms) on the opening cut, Cast into the Firmament, almost seems to sync with the body´s natural rhythms, preparing the listener for the journey as liquid synths and deep space textures gurgle around it, like water flowing around rocks in a stream. The most complicated rhythm we get is on the second track, Paleo Vision, which presents us with a sort of prehistoric, protofunk, but the textural design and Nick´s haunting voice singing chant-like, melodic vocals continues the journey into deep space, both outer and inner. Nick can´t resist throwing in a couple of his psychedelic pop tunes on the album as well. These ones are piano and synth based, rather than being played on his usual guitar and feature Jhaz Sigeret on sax and woodwinds. They are beautiful little numbers, especially Heaven with its trippy, swirly synths. But they do seem a tad out of place amidst the intensity and mystery generated by the rest of the music on the album. It´s tempting to call the majority of the music on The Universe Is Mental ´new age music´, but it´s all a bit too intense for that label. Nick himself likes to refer to it as ´new age punk rock´. And while I don´t quite hear the ´punk´ aspect to it, there are definitely subtle undertones of space rock always there in the mix, whether it is the Tangerine Dream-like electronic sequences of Where Are We Now or the strange, alien voices and analogue space whooshes of Implant Procedure Explained or the throbbing intensity of the Eastern influenced Sumerian Spaceport. If you´ve heard some of Nick´s other stuff and are expecting the full out space and psych rock of many of those albums, be prepared for something entirely different here. Close your eyes, relax and float off towards the psychedelic horizon. The Universe Is Mental is the perfect soundtrack to that trip. It will take you to vistas both ancient and futuristic, and make them seem one and the same. Interview Aural Innovations(AI): You´ve been playing in the music scene for a long time, originally in more punk and hard rock oriented bands. What first got you interested in playing psychedelic music? What artists influenced you back then? Nick Riff (NR): I came of age when the counter culture and psychedelic era was establishing itself as a concept and lifestyle. Being on the coattails of the Woodstock generation I just took that direction naturally because most of my friends were a few years older and turned me on to hemp and psychedelics as time progressed and the interest in all things psychedelic and mind expanding just naturally occurred. Even in the punk and hard rock bands I was in later on, the psychedelic influence was superimposed in the mix. My earliest influences as far as psychedelic music would be most noticeably The Beatles, Hendrix, Blue Cheer, Moody Blues, Tyrannosaurus Rex, SRC, Pearls Before Swine, and Hawkwind. Then it was on into Yes, early Genesis, King Crimson and Prog rock with the flipside at the same time of the Stooges, MC5, Blue Oyster Cult and on and on. Listening to and living for music 24/7 was probably the biggest influence as a whole. AI: What are some of the artists (old or new) that you´re listening to these days that either inspire you or that you just like? NR: I only have a few hours a week where I can actually check out new music. I listen to Aural Innovations shows of course and a few others as regular as I can, and I listen to college radio where I hear a lot of great new psych type bands but due to short term memory loss unless I write them down when they stand out I couldn´t tell you who they are. At this point it all goes into the big melting pot. I like almost everything on the SoundAwesome site. AI: What is the idea behind the Riffdisc series, and how does it differ from your previous releases? NR: The Riffdisc Series is exactly that, a series of limited edition CDs that started in 2006 and will end in 2012 emanating from the official website and monthly newsletter. The idea being that each release has a slightly different focus in regards to lyrical approach and musical style. This came about due to the fact some people only like the heavy fuzz psych, some like the etheric acoustic style, and some like the cosmic space rock and the experimental pieces. The previous releases contained all these elements at once depending on the song. My concept for the Riffdisc Series was to separate and expand each element a little more by focusing each release on one of these characteristics and still maintain my musical identity. On a business level it allows me to market each release slightly overlapping into different markets so more people can discover the sounds and then maybe check out a different release as well. Being psychedelic in nature they are also created to be relevant whenever in time they come into the listener´s awareness. AI: The first CD, the appropriately titled Magick Museum was made from earlier recorded tracks, to become a sort of introduction to Nick Riff. How did you go about selecting the songs to appear on this album? NR: At the turn of the century the band Freak Element was put on hold because everyone had other commitments. I had a situation that took me out of performing and recording music for nearly five years. Having recorded for Delerium and Sonic Swirl in the 90s with a good number of compilation tracks I realized that a lot of time had passed and I basically had to start over building awareness of my music again. I thought a compilation of those releases would be a good foundation to build the rest of the Riffdisc Series from and like you said, introduce myself again to a new generation of psych music lovers. I picked the songs that over the years kept being mentioned whenever I talked to people or got the most response from the live shows or radio. Bottom line is I just wanted to put together a great psychedelic rock CD that would be perfect to listen to stoned. The original pressing is sold out but is available as download, and we are going to release a re-issue later this year when the official website gets a redesign. AI: Was the Riffdisc concept already in place when you were putting together this compilation? NR: Yes. I also wanted to follow Magick Museum with a studio recording of Nick Riffs Freak Element and bring everything back up to date and enable the series to continue. AI: Riffdisc 002, The World´s Alive brings your old band from the 90´s, Nick Riff´s Freak Element, back together. Was this the same line-up as the 90´s incarnation? NR: Yes same line up. Myself on guitar & vocals, Peter Platten - synthesizers, Kevin Hines - bass guitar, Rob King - drums, with original NRFE drummer Tim Lane - percussion, and Carl Hatcher - sound mutations. The core group of Freak Element is Peter, Kevin, Rob and myself. There´s sort of a collective of musicians who know my songs and I have been lucky to be in a situation where I can put together the best band for any given show I might need to play. Sometimes Steve Hayes from Secret Saucer plays synths, or Tim on drums. I have a deep space project with Carl and drummer Bob Bailey that may develop into a separate recording project after the Riffdisc Series is complete. AI: I understand there are two different versions of Nick Riff´s Freak Element, the four-piece rock band and the two-piece psychedelic folk unit. Are there any thoughts or plans to release recordings from the two piece unit as part of the Riffdisc series? NR: The psych folk unit is called Freak Element Duo and it´s a way I can present my acoustic-psych-folk songwriter music. Very atmospheric sounding. I play acoustic guitar with various effects and Peter accompanies with synthesizers and backing vocals. We released a five song bonus disc as part of the Riffdisc Series with the first 300 orders of Photon Shift called Songs From Another Dimension. I hope we will get a full length CD together after the Riffdisc Series is complete. AI: I loved Photon Shift; it was one of my favourite albums of last year. Photon shift showed a wide variety of styles from psych rock to ambient to folk song writingeven a pulsing dance piece. You´ve said that each disc in the Riffdisc series represents a different side of your musical explorationswhich side did Photon Shift represent? NR: The confused side. I tried to keep it in a more hard rock energy and feel with a heavier guitar and drum sound. All the variations of that were only there to keep the listening experience flowing and interesting. Mark KIein from the legendary Cleveland hard rock metal group Breaker produced it. Other than Already Gone and Halls Of Amenti I think the sound is fairly consistent as a psych hard rock set of songs. Mindflow is a soundscape set behind a driving rock beat and I guess you could dance to it around a bonfire on top of a hill or something. AI: Was there a lyrical theme to Photon Shift (the album)? If so, what was the larger picture? NR: We joked in the studio that it was my grumpy old man album. I was at a point of observing the relentless media manipulation of the general population and how easily it is to sway public opinion regardless of the truth. The government is basically a talking head for the corporations, banks, and alien presence that are destroying the planet with no concern for future survival of the human race. Chemtrails, big pharm, war machine, weather control, surrender of personal freedoms without any regard to the documents this country was founded on. Fixed electionson and on. Then there are the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of the time we are in. The shift in consciousness from the material values into a more cosmic awareness for those who are tuning in that direction as the process begins to manifest, as opposed to the zombie like acceptance of a matrix reality and empty consumer values. So it was sort of lyrically saying wake up while there´s still a chance. Mix in some theories of 2012 and the possibility of transcending out of the 3rd dimension as multi-dimensional and quantum realities become more established, and rock on. AI: Already Gone, off of Photon Shift, you´ve said is inspired by a true story. What is the story behind it? NR: The lyrics are literally the true story pretty straight forward. I was visiting my daughter´s family and my 4 year old grandson wanted to look at a book with animals in it. As we turned through the pages I realized many of these animals are already or will be extinct in the wild if not in my lifetime, definitely in his. He was just laughing and showing me the animals without even thinking there would be a world without them. He would show me one and we would say what a beautiful creature it was or something and I am playing along but I was thinking this one´s already gone and trying not to cry. AI: You´ve just released The Universe is Mental, the fourth volume in the Riffdisc series. Inspired, it says, by your recent studies in ´psychotropic astronomy´. That sounds interesting. What can you tell me about that and how it relates to the music on The Universe Is Mental? NR: The last few years I have been getting back into my astronomy hobby that I spent time with in high school and have always sorta been involved with. I simply added the psychotropics to the equation when possible. I like viewing with astronomy binoculars and scanning the sky until I find a view that is cosmic and psychedelic and spiritual. Then I will stare into that view and sometimes leave. A lot of the music was inspired by some of those celestial sights. I didn´t want to make a new age sounding CD which is why I added drums and a couple of structured songs. Photon Shift had a lot of serious lyrical content and metaphysical theories to think about, and that is one of the reasons there are mostly instrumental soundscapes on this one. I also wanted to have music available for licensing to indie films and videos if any filmmakers would be interested. Looking into outer space or inner space is only a perspective. I just made a CD of music that would complement both directions to complete the circle. AI: Your website also mentions your studies in Paleo-rhythms. What did you learn about those rhythms that inspired you? NR: Again, the astronomy connection relating to the speed of light and time. When staring into space you are looking back into the distant past and I was thinking the same sky I was seeing was the same sky that Paleolithic people experienced. In fact they saw more because there was no light pollution. I related to the universal rhythms that haven´t changed and the human heartbeat and breathing. Most of the CD there is only one drum playing the most primitive beat I could take it to in regards to all the technological and space music going on around it. I just beat it like a caveman to create a trance state that could help the listener space out. AI: You called it a kind of new age punk. I get the new age influence, but punk? I know that you had some of your roots in punk bands and in your more rocking tunes you can still hear touches of that influence, but what is punk to you about the music on The Universe Is Mental? NR: That was something I thought was hilarious because there are all these spacey echoes and drones that might be tipping into new age type music and I am just beating the crap out of this drum. There´s nothing punk rock sound wise or musically about it, just the way I was playing the drum that was so primitive I just came up with that phrase. You can´t take that phrase in terms of rock music, you have to see it from my distorted reality. AI: I love that you take risks and do your own thing, like putting two gentle psychedelic ballads on The Universe Is Mental in total contrast to the rest of the music. Is there a method to the madness or do you just like to surprise the listener with the unexpected? NR: The idea of the song Forever was simply a pause after the first four tracks. The concept of that song was to be like a spaceship traveling through space and picking up an old radio broadcast from Earth bouncing off a distant star. That´s why it has a fifties doo wop early sixties AM radio feel to it. I guess if I had put some static and short wave signals first people would have understood why it´s there in relation to the rest of the music. With the last song, Heaven, I wanted a chill out after the intensity of the three previous tracks, and you could roll credits over it at the end of a tragic or victorious love story movie. think it´s a very psychedelic song in its own way. AI: I loved the title of Sumerian Spaceport. I assume it relates to the ancient astronauts theory. What are your thoughts on that? NR: It´s a thread that runs through the entire Riffdisc Series. If you look at the Magick Museum cover it´s a 6000 year old tablet that clearly shows a flying machine surrounded by stars and planets coming in for a landing. There´s just too much evidence to dismiss about the subject. People should research the more involved scholars who have written books about it. It just seems logical. Why did the US military immediately raid the Bagdad museum? Some of those artifacts still work. Ancient astronauts, multi-dimensional time portals, spirals in the sky, planet X, angelic beings, it´s all in my psyched out reality. AI: Implant Procedure Explained definitely has a different feel from the rest of the instrumental pieces on The Universe Is Mental, being more edgy, alien and futuristic. What´s the idea behind it and how does it relate to the other pieces? NR: The complete title was going to include the phrase (In real time). There are three aliens explaining each phase of the operation. The abductee is in a dream state but conscious on a table. The first phase they introduce themselves then explain the instruments, then proceed to make the laser incision over the area of the 3rd eye and separate the skin layers to the skull. Next, there´s a description of how the laser will cut a small square in the skull exposing the brain. Once the brain is accessed the laser opens a passage directly to the Pineal Gland and there is a short pause to stabilize the subject. Finally a micro thin transparent film is overlaid on the gland and a frequency initialization occurs. From this point it is simply a matter of using the laser to close the incisions and return the abductee to whereever they were before the procedure took place. It takes about ten and a half minutes and the matrix reality projection superimposes itself through the film chip on the subject´s perception of reality. These beings have nothing to do with the previously mentioned ancient astronauts. AI: Any hints as to what is coming up in the Riffdisc series? You´ve said you plan to finish up the Riffdisc series in 2012. Since this coincides with the Mayan prophecies and that number is part of your e-mail address, is there significance to finishing up the series in the year 2012? NR: I have two more CDs planned and will hopefully have them released by the end of 2012. There are so many theories about that date I just thought it would be a good time to end the Riffdisc Series since one of the end of the world theories is that date as well. I don´t think the planet ends, just changes, and we are obviously in the initial stages now on all levels in the physical world and consciousness. I really don´t have any big prophetic statement about it. I just think it´s time to get yourself to wherever you need to be to survive mentally and spiritually. If there is indeed a photon shift in consciousness or rapture or dimension shift or alien intervention the only reality is going to be how this relates to the individual in relation to the creator source. The properties of quantum physics and the multi-verse may become reality in the blink of an eye to some and to others just another day. If the Universe is Mental, is there an answer? AI: Thanks Nick, for taking the time to chat with us! To learn more about Nick Riff and the Riffdisc series, visit his website at: http://www.nickriff.com
Nick Riff has been watching the stars intensively and tried to find paleolithic rhythms to solve the question "if the Universe is mental, is there an answer?" This record is very different from what we have heared from him: space and psychedelia instead of catchy rock tunes. A very inspired and inspiring album, but also very different. And still great stuff! Try to listen to some tunes on the various radio shows at "Aural Innovations".
Nicks a positive veteran of the space rock scene. Veteran in that he´s been playing music since the mid ´70s, releasing his first single with hard rock band Serpent (influenced by Hendrix, Sex Pistols, UFO and Cheap Trick) back in 1978 and going on to play with various bands before deciding to pursue a solo career that yielded albums in the UK on the fabled Delerium and for Cleveland´s garage rock imprint Sonic Swirl. ´Positive´ in that despite dropping out of sight for a large chunk of the noughties, he´s recently returned to the music scene, revved-up and committed to an on-going series of releases on his Riffdisc imprint, of which Photon Shift is the third. And ´positive´ again, in that he´s also playing live and recording with Freak Element, his ever-changing, peripatetic band who have a free bonus disc, Music From Another Dimension, included with the first three hundred orders for Photon Shift. Nick has very kindly sent me both discs, though I´ll concentrate here on talking about the highly-charged and exciting Photon Shift, which kicks off loud and proud with the fuzz-laden ´Edge of Time´, all meshed sounds and studded with Nick´s righteous railings against the corporate state and the generation that ´worships junk technology´. Like all the other tracks here, it´s extended, trippy, dynamic stuff and totally deserves a place amongst any self-respecting space rock enthusiast´s collection. It´s easy just to hear Nick´s music as one sprawling head trip, loaded with cosmic gusto, spaced-out and psychedelic and completely thrilling in its verve and atmospherics. But then, there´s also a highly intelligent counterpoint to the freakzone sounds and that´s his opinionated, challenging in a thoughtful way, lyric writings. So he does make use of the standards of the psychedelic movement, If you leave your body use your thoughts instead, no ending to forever, that´s what the mushroom said, he writes on the eastern-flavoured ´Symbiont, but he´s also talking about stuff that´s highly relevant, often in a quite touching manner. The most laid-back moments of the album, on ´Already Gone´, are an effective and affecting rumination on extinction that has both the despair of what´s been lost and a contrastingly hopeful expression that the next generation might be better custodians of what´s been left; a quite lovely song. ´Already Gone´ is one of the quiet pauses in the album, along with the play-out number, ´Halls of Amenti´, a broodingly low-key piece, and the title track, a brilliant and beguiling jewel of song-writing, all swaying, heartfelt, charm. The surrounding tracks are generally punchy and energetic, with a brilliant sense of groove, often danceable and put together to be played all the way up. ´Glowing Bowl´ is a real pounding wall of sound, lyrically and musically pulling the listener Higher and Higher. ´Symbiont´ is classic psychedelia that has the spirit of the genre, both musically and literary, rippled through it; ´Mindflow´ an expansive nine-minute trance piece. Absolutely great stuff, get this CD and quick! Update! Don´t be quick... be really quick... the bonus CD is almost sold-out! Nick Riff Official Website Posted by Ian Abrahams
Nick Riff is getting better and better, where shall this lead to? A great record and when you hurry up, you listen to his song on Aural Innovations Spacerock Radio
Psychedelic / Rock / Punk NICK RIFFS FREAK ELEMENT - THE WORLD´S ALIVE CD was recorded at Metrosync Studio in Cleveland Ohio. Nick Riff - vocals, guitar. Peter Platten - keyboards, synthesizers. Kevin Hines - bass guitar, and Rob King drums, comprise the cosmic powered festival band and studio band in this incarnation of Freak Element. Tim Lane from an early version of Freak Element adds percussion, and Carl Hatcher joins with a vocal mutation device. The music ranges from psychedelic rock, to spacey psych-pop, to ancient tribal soundscapes. It is music to let unfold before you as it happens. An audio companion on your next psychedelic adventure. Multi-dimensional rock and roll for your next party on Earth or where ever you may find yourself in space and time. Best to turn off the cell phones and use your imagination on this one. Get it here : http://cdbaby.com/cd/nickriff2. This is the second release on the Riffdisc label and continues the series that started with the Magick Museum cd from 2006. The series will continue until 2012. Brief overview : After the unfortunate demise of The Attitude in 1988, founding member John Lyon changed his name to Nick Riff, lost his mind, and embarked on a solo career that included worldwide CD / LP, 7 inchvinyl, cassette, and mini disc releases on labels such as Delerium Records, Cleopatra , Sonic Swirl , Pangea, Sound Of The Sea, and Riffdisc. Various line ups for live performances and solo concerts have shared concert billings with Yes, Moody Blues, Hawkwind, Daevid Allen, Kasim Sulton, and many Cleveland area bands. Between incarnations of Freak Element, Nick performs as a solo artist playing acoustic versions of songs from his cd releases and unreleased songs performed exclusively in a solo environment. Nick is currently working with former Freak Element synthesist Peter Platten on a new live presentation. The Magick Museum cd is the perfect introduction for those still unfamiliar with this hybrid form of psychedelic rock music. It is an internet only release for now , available from cdbaby.com , and Amazon.com . Digital downloads are available from iTunes , Indiecentric and others. MP3s from the Snocap store. Nick is busy recording a new solo cd of all new material, nearly completed. A requested soundtrack for the recent gathering of the Psychedelic Council is in the final stages of mixing. A set of acoustic based psych-space pop is also in the works, along with the possible new release of an Attitude cd. For more info please visit the official website www.nickriff.com This music has been known to cause missing time, restless leg syndrome, Jedi cramps, Gollum writhing, stained fingertips, and general Rock & Roll behavior. Band Members Nick Riff - vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, lyrics Chris Keffer - studio engineer, co-producer JD Kimple - bass guitar Rich Maserik - drums Patrick Pryor - drums Amber Ferguson - backing vocals Thom Marianetti - drums Steve Taylor - bass guitar Chris Di Santis - percussion Ched Stanisic - keyboards Louise Macaulay - artist Tim Lane - drums, percussion Peter Platten - synthesizers, b vocals Kevin Hines - bass guitar, b.vocals Rob King - drums Carl Hatcher - si fi samples Angel Wolff - artist Influences The Attitude, Garage Rock, THC, Prog Rock, Hendrix, Psychedelics, Loud guitars, Ramones, T Rex , Alien abductions, Elvis , Beatles, you name it from 1955 on.. Releases Freak Element AMAZON.COM Magick Museum AMAZON.COM
CD Review: Nick Riff Nick Riffs Freak Element December 5, 2008 by Matheson Kamin Musician Nick Riff was born to be a musician. He has spent the last several decades going from one rock band to another. Throughout his musical career, Riff has performed with all sorts of rock bands; some of which were straight-out rock, some were hard rock, and some were very psychedelic. With a resume that stretches back into the seventies, Nick Riff has become a seasoned professional. And with that long of a resume, it also means that he has created quite a discography. By this point in his career, Nick Riff has amassed a collection of recordings that adds up to almost twenty-five releases, some of which were compilations on which his songs were included. While most of Nick Riff´s discography is made up of albums that were strictly released in the U.S, some of his work has been released for consumption in England, as well. Riff´s release From The Heart of Oblivion in 1989 on English label Delirium. The label had so much confidence in Riff and his music that it also released two other albums: Cloak Of Immortality in 1995, and the album the came between the other two albums, the 1992 release, Freak Element. Freak Element is the name of one of Nick Riff´s musical projects. The band was put together by Riff to create a certain style and feel to the music. The band only exists at certain times. When the members are available, they record; otherwise, Riff records with other musicians, or on his own. The year 2008 happened to be one of those times when Nick Riff got together with Freak Element. For this project, the band consists of: Nick Riff on guitar and vocals, Peter Platten on synthesizers, keyboards, Kevin Hines on bass, and Rob King on drums. Together, this formation of Freak Element has created the 2008 release The World´s Alive. The World´s Alive is a release that features a musical mixture that you don´t find everywhere: part of the music is psychedelic in nature, and part of the music has a very spaced out feel to it. Although that might seem like a very unusual combination, with the meaning behind the lyrics to Riff´s songs, the combination works in a way that seems very natural. The songs on Nick Riff´s Freak Element album entitled The World´s Alive, the songs have a lot to do with the acknowledgement of the existence of life from beyond our planet. The album deals with existing with that life and trying to make contact. While the majority of the material on The World´s Alive was written by Nick Riff, the band of musicians of Freak Element help to give the songs shape. Peter Platten, Kevin Hines and Rob King add the final touches to Riff´s compositions to make them full-fledged songs. And on The Hidden Path and Pre-Millennium Transmission, the band helps to compose the songs. Whether helping to add dimension to Riff´s songs, or actually helping to compose the songs, Platten, Hines, and King help make The World´s Alive an enjoyable listening experience. The World´s Alive by Nick Riff´s Freak Element features the right amount of psychedelic rock and extra-terrestrial elements to create a unique listening experience. If you´re up for something that´s a little out of this world, take a chance with this 2008 release. To experience the fascinating album of The World´s Alive by Nick Riff´s Freak Element, go to www.nickriff.com. You can also find Nick on MySpace at www.myspace.com/nickriff.
Nick Riff - "Magick Museum" (Riffdisc 2005, 001) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From Aural Innovations #34 (August 2006) A veteran of the Cleveland, Ohio alternative music scene, Nick Riff is known to the world from the 2 albums he recorded for the great Delerium label in the 1990´s, as well as contributions to numerous compilations. Though he seemed to have disappeared for a while, Nick is back in action with a new web site and his self-released Magick Museum, a collection of limited edition and out of print material, intended as an introduction to those who may have missed him in his 90´s psychedelic heyday. The album opens hot ´n heavy with "Freak Element", a blazing punky psychedelic song that not only ROCKS but shows what a solid songwriter Nick is. This guy really excels at fusing psychedelic influences from a number of eras. The 60´s are well in evidence, yet there´s a freshness to Nick´s sound that heads off the temptation to tag him as being too retro. "Forbidden Love" is another strong track with the song itself based firmly in the 60´s, but the power rock pulse giving the music a potent hard psych rock attack. "Cloak of Immortality" and "The Other Ones" are bouncy psych-pop numbers with an injection of harder edged acid rock and great jam sections. Ditto for "Creature Feature", which is like something right out of a 60´s dance party flick, but with Frankie and Annette heavily dosed while playing bingo on their beach blankets. And dig that space rock electronics landing in the last minute of the song. Awesome. "Mystified" is a short pop-psych song with elements of space rock. "Staring into Space" is a little different, being a short Pink Floyd like acoustic guitar and space synth piece. I would have liked to hear Nick stretch this one out a bit. "Vagabond Unknown" is one of the more space rock oriented tracks of the set, while never straying far from Nick´s core song oriented psychedelic sound. Pop based space rock actually the instrumental segment at the end sounds a bit like Neu!, and look how many freaky pop groups they influenced! Same for "Go Far Go Wide" it´s got that pop side of Neu! feel to it. And "Tribal Elders" and "Limitless Light" are THE most space rock oriented tracks of the set. In fact, if Daevid Allen were on vocals on "Tribal Elders" I could snow you into believing this were a long lost Steve Hillage era Gong tune. And I love that ripping looped guitar and droning pulsating synths and electro beats on "Limitless Light" Killer!! In summary, if you´ve not been tuned into Nick Riff before then you should head over to his web site and grab this collection right now. Of course the whole idea is to set the stage for some upcoming NEW music, and revisiting these songs has me hoping that happens very SOON. For more information you can visit the Nick Riff web site at: http://www.nickriff.com. Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz
I love this cd, it rocks !..and the songs make me happy.
WOW. THIS CD IS REALLY GREAT... VERY SWEET GUITAR AND PROFOUND LYRICS...DOES THIS GUY EVER TOUR?
The song continues to be a wonderful influence, after hearing it for the first time years ago. Thanks Nick.
Goldmine The Neo-psych scene appears to be a minor rage in England, but it can´t seem to pick up steam here in the States. as a result, Riff´s debut release has been picked up by Delerium Records (affiliated with Freakbeat Magazine). Riff´s music is characterised by loads of fuzz guitar, metaphysical and otherwise transcendental lyrics (check out titles such as "Strange Disposition", "Electric Eye God", and "Freak Element") droning harmonies, reverb-saturated vocals, bits of raga-rock and plenty of other psychedelic effects and gestures. His voice is a rather thin tenor, but Riff´s intonation is dead on and it fits the character of the music quite well. the one caveat is the presence of drum machines and other occasional synthesised sounds which make this one-man band possible. While it is clear that Riff is heavily into the psychedelic sound, it has been processed and filtered through his experiences with new-wave, punk and alternative rock (in the 80´s he was in a group known as the Attitude). As in such music, Riff often employs an austere, stripped-down texture and sonority, though the rip-snortin´ fuzz guitars keep the music from becoming anaemic. This results in a music that is at once nostalgic and contemporary.
Thursday, January 8, 2009 Nick Riff-From The Heart Of Oblivion,tape,1989,UK/USA "Nick Riff, America´s secret, psychedelic son, has always been in or around Rock & Roll in one form or another. Appearing at times as a studio musician, stage crew member, backing musician, or leader of one of Cleveland´s more successful local bands of the mis-eighties, The Attitude he has always tried to maintain the original essence of Rock & Roll in a predominantly middle of the road society.Throughout his various incarnations as a musician, he has released or contributed musically to vinyl EPs, 7 inch singles and cassette LP projects. A five song EP released in 1986 by The Attitude, on an independant Cleveland label, was well received on targeted college radio stations, nationwide and in Europe.Over the course of his performing career, in various bands, he has appeared on concert billings with such diverse acts as D.O.A., The Replacements, R.E.M., Human Switchboard, Brian Adamas, Greg Kihn, The Feelies, Guadalcanal Diary, Chesterfield Kings, The Saints, Faith No More, The Ramones, Daevid Allen and Kevin Ayers.1989 saw the release of his first solo project, for which he played, recorded and produced all sounds human and otherwise, on a six song cassette entitled "From The Heart of Oblivion". While receiving positive reviews in the United States and Europe from specialist publications like Factsheet Five, Unhinged, Freakbeat, Crohinga Well and CMJ Report, two songs from the "Oblivion" tape found their way onto compilation releases."Tripping Over Clouds" was featured on "Another Listen Is In Order", a CD of local Cleveland area bands released at the 1989 CMJ Music Marathon in New York City. "Lost and Wild" appeared on a Delerium Records compilation of bands from around the world called "A Psychedelic Psauna" which was released to critical acclaim worldwide, in 1991.On June 1st 1992, Delerium Records unleashed Nick Riff´s debut album on CD and LP in Europe. "Freak Element" a nine song excursion into psychedelic rock & roll, gained a rapid cult following and favourable reviews in Europe and America and was followed with a full article in Freakbeat magazine No.8, and the release of a previously unavailable track "The Limitless Light" on the free 7 inch that came with the magazine.When it became obvious that to reach beyond a cult audience Nick would have to abandon his home produced music in favour of a wider studio production, expanded with extra musicians, Delerium Records agreed to finance Nick´s new project "Cloak of Immortality". Between the Autumn of 1993 and the Spring of 1994 Nick has recorded the new album in a studio in Cleveland, Ohio. The result is amazing - a fusion of acid rock & roll, punk energy, new wave, vocal harmony and psychedelic otherworldliness... "Cloak of Immortality" is an aural gemstone of many sparkling hues. "