Richard Haswell





Scots Whay Hae! Review - Live In Kemback - 26.01.15

One of Scots Whay Hae!'s favourite musicians is Richard Haswell, and his album Asteroids, was one of the best of 2013. A prolific master of experimental pop, I did wonder how his music would translate to being played live. I need wonder no more as he has released a live EP called Live In Kemback, and he pares his music down to an acoustic minimum which lets the songs shine through and his personality come to the fore. What it shows once more is that this is a man who lives and breathes music, and who works hard at making it seem this effortless.

Bluesbunny Music Reviews - Live in Kemback - 02.01.15

Growing old gracefully...

There used to be this thing called light entertainment and, with a wry sense of humour on his side, Richard Haswell invokes its ghost for two and a half acoustical minutes on the glories of getting old. In “Virtual Record Collection” he even manages to name check Aldi so he’s alright for urban cool too.

The Rock Club - Live in Kemback - 31.12.14

"A witty and charming recording as ever."

Scots Whay Hae! Review - From The Fleet To The Medlock - 12.04.14

First off; it's possible album of the year ahoy! Richard Haswell's Asteroids was one of the best things I heard last year, and he made the end of year round up. He has now released a compilation album; From The Fleet To The Medlock: A Compilation (1997 - 2014) and you have to get yourself a copy as this man's music deserves a place in your life. To put the tin lid on it, the first track is called Third Lanark.

Scots Whay Hae! Review - Asteroids - 08.07.13

Now for some wonderfully inventive and anthemic pop music of the kind few even try to make any more. Richard Haswell's album Asteroids is like a journey through a peculiarly personal, and tasteful, history of great indie/pop/rock of the last 40 odd years. There are touches of Bowie, Gabriel, Eno, Tim Buckley, The Smashing Pumpkins, Detroit House, Sigur Ros, New Order and Talk Talk. If it wasn't for The Boards of Canada, Asteroids would be the best thing I heard last month, and is one of the best of the year. Richard Haswell is a man to sit up and take notice of. This is my favourite track, but they're all worthy of your attention.

Americana UK Review - Asteroids - 11.08.13

  • 22 albums in, can Haswell impress again?

Richard Haswell’s prolific output continues with the release of his 22nd studio album, ‘Asteroids’. The album moves ever so slightly away from the acoustic-dominated sound of ‘Safety In Movement’, the music has a vast, electronic, spacey sound, an interesting juxtaposition to the home grown, self recorded background Haswell is known for. On the whole the recording is done well. The mix is a bit strange at times (the acoustic guitar and electronic drums of ‘One More House From Happiness’ are jarring together), but who am I to say this isn’t deliberate? Each track has me waiting to see what the next will bring, so this has to be a good thing.

Each song is so packed full of instrumentation and layers, the time and effort that has gone into making the album is clear. The acoustic guitar and electric drum mix is hard to enjoy at times, ‘The Water Poet’ has some lovely melodies that would benefit from less rigid timing on the drums. The non-acoustic tracks flow more smoothly with the electronic drums, and the droning guitars on ‘Surfacing’ create a dense layer which overhangs a steady groove created by the rhythm section.

Haswell’s relative obscurity after 22 albums seems pretty unfair; he’s able to easily write catchy, radio worthy songs, and is obviously not short of ideas! ‘The Undreamed Of’ wouldn’t seem out of place amongst current popular indie acts, and it the seeming ease with which he creates a song like this that is so impressive.

8/10

Jason's Jukebox Review - Asteroids - 07.08.13

When one hears the statement “prolific artist” you can almost hear a collective groan from the audience. Prolific, you see, doesn’t always translate to quality. I can spout off a random list of artists that release way too much material – for every album that I enjoy, there are 2 to 3 that I’d rather have skipped (like a fool, I usually pick up everything). It’s also a curious time in musical history – downloads were seen as the savior of the physical medium, yet streaming services have zapped some of that thunder. What’s an artist to do? If you are Richard Haswell from Edinburgh, Scotland – you continue to release stunning music at a healthy clip while maintaining a tight rein on quality control.

Asteroids is somewhere around Haswell’s 22nd release or so since the mid 90′s. Sounds like an intimidating figure, and it kind of is to be honest. Fortunately you don’t need to feel stressed out about that. Eight songs of stunning musicianship that flirt with several different genres and styles. Folk styled songs sit comfortably up against Bowie inspired electronic soundscapes (think the Berlin trilogy). I even hear a bit of a Smashing Pumpkins influence on a few tracks (and really heavily on one track, which I’ll get to in just a bit). The album isn’t just a mish-mash of influences – it takes all of these colliding forces and spins it into its own unique blend. A menagerie of brilliance, Asteroids is an album that grows in stature with each listen.

this is permanent damage (album highlights)

Jarvik-13 has a title straight out of a science fiction movie and starts the album off on a strong note. Bowie-esque vocals over top of a driving 90′s guitar drone sets the stage for the rest of the record by throwing a few different influences & styles into the mix. The Undreamed Of pays homage to 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins. The introduction to the tune sounds very similar to the hit song by the ‘Pumpkins before moving into dreamier territory. The phrase / lyric that sticks out is the way he pronounces “It’s the great unknown!”. The Distance Between You and I is a foreboding title of a song and in this instance the music matches the melancholy. Spooky sound f/x for the 1st minute or so before a galloping bass line enters the mix. Soft sung vocals are quite effective as the song builds to a white noise crescendo of guitar noise whilst never losing sense of melody. That’d be the shoegazing influence showings its face, take note. The Thinner the Ice is about as perfect of a closing track as you’d want on an album. Atmospheric and conveying emotion with each word, it is nothing short of stunning. (think about how Street Spirit closed out The Bends by everyone’s favorite underground mainstream act, Radiohead). Strummed acoustic guitar, assorted synths & sound f/x, and beautiful vocals. Key lyrics: “For to resist I have no will / So let these creatures have their fill / So no more covert disguises / No unwelcome surprises”

An essential release of 2013 and one that belongs in your collection.

Verdict: Space Pop Madness

For Fans of: David Bowie, Nick Cave, Smashing Pumpkins, Peter Gabriel, Babybird

The Sound Of Confusion Review - Asteroids - 14.08.13

For Richard Haswell music isn't a passing fad, something to get him through his 20s and then give up on later in life. 'Asteroids' is his 22nd album; that's more than most bands can even contemplate, let alone find enough ideas to fill. Having previously released records under the monikers of Rhubarb and G For Gnome, this is actually his first material since 2010. So that's 22 albums and still enough time for a three year sabbatical then. As we continually mention, you can put out as many records as you like, write more songs than anyone you know and go on making music for decades and decades, but if the songs aren't good then the only real benefactor is yourself and you own sense of satisfaction.

Which naturally leads us to ask whether or not Richard Haswell is any good. He's hardly a household name, but then neither are some of the most talented bands and artists ever. This may not sound like a compliment, but it's intended as one: 'Asteroids' sounds like a debut album. Not because it amateurish, contains immature songwriting or is not produced well, it sounds like this because Haswell sounds fresh and energised. It doesn't feel like a mid-career, treading-water album. It sounds new and it sounds like Haswell is still trying to prove a point. We don't know how old he is or when his first release was but it doesn't matter. 'Asteroids' is an enjoyable record, it won't top any charts or polls but it does contain some ideas and plenty of vitality. There's no sign of fatigue.

Check out the lively indie/pop of 'One More House From Happiness', this is vibrant, melodic and well made; it's a very good song. The album title implies space-rock and we touch on that with robust opener 'Jarvik-13', a song that, like most here, unveils hidden depths upon repeat plays. The cosmos enters the fray again on the (what sounds to be) Stereolab-influenced 'The Undreamed Of', and this is followed by 'Routinely Armed' which also shares some of that influence, adding an poppier element. 'The Distance Between You And I' has the feel of a centrepiece: it's big, bold, serious powerful and a little psychedelic. The almost dubby, acoustic 'The Water Poet' is subdued by comparison but the storming 'Surfacing' soon gives you a wake-up call. One of the best is saved for last, as 'The Thinner The Ice' gives us a majestic slow build. Make no mistake, 'Asteroids' is an album full of very good music.

7bitArcade Review - Asteroids - 12.07.13

Richard Haswell is one of those musicians that fancier types would refer to as an ‘engineer’. The Edinburgh man’s work is made up of precision-crafted electronica fastened with acoustic sensibilities and, despite airiness about the proceedings, a very real sense of direction. Think 7Bit Great Escape favourite Birkwin Jersey with sharper sound and even sharper intentions.

Asteroids, as a whole, is a mish-mash of indie structures and prog-rock experimentation. Jarvik-13 opens the album with buzzy, bitter synth matched by equally aggressive lyrics. The minimalistic stylings of the song drag out the break-up as Haswell sings, “I was your erstwhile vote, the great white hope, I was the apple of your eye”. The lyrics, as a whole, deal with bitterness which masks dogged determination to become something more.

Each track is rich with unique arrangements of instrumentation that you can only imagine would be incredible live, with a full house band. The Undreamed Of throws determined drums over Silversun Pickups guitars; Routinely Armed opts for blippy-bloopy stabs of keys over jangly guitars which soar and phase into boosted electric screams. As the percussion builds, Haswell’s scratchy vocals rain down vengeance in a tone unbefitting of its lyrics, but somehow utterly appropriate. There’s even room for house beats on One More House From Happiness, which builds into 70s disco-pop of Bowie-esque proprotions.

Oddly, one of the album’s real highlights is an instrumental piece just after the half-way mark. The Water Poet bounces acoustic guitars and lightweight beats off of one another across four minutes of uninterrupted playtime. It’s a break from the intensity of Haswell’s lyrics and complex instrumentation which compliments this summer’s hazy afternoons like nothing else out there. Yet it also demonstrate’s Haswell’s immense, genre-spanning talents as a multi-instrumentalist.

Asteroids probably gained its name through the fact that it’s a barrage. Eight rocks, none like the other, bounce off of your ears for forty minutes. The last two hit the hardest. Surfacing is angry and motivated, screeching guitars which wail like nails down a blackboard suffering a glitch in the Matrix, recalling Overseer. The Thinner The Ice is the comedown after the power trip, revisiting the gentle acoustics of The Water Poet. “We both know this boat has drifted, the boundaries have shifted,” Haswell notes. “The water’s deep and dark, and there roam the sharks, those hungry sharks who wish to feed – so let them feed.”

The Thinner The Ice is hardly the happy send-off that the album feels as if it’s heading for. But after the rogue trip of anger that Asteroids explores it’s the inevitable conclusion to an instrumentally diverse and holistic album in which each part is its own and yet also forms a coherent and surefire whole. Haswell is an inventive performer and writer, a craftsman and a precise perfectionist – an engineer. Asteroids is the result of his dedication to ensuring every piece has its place.

Skope Magazine Review - Asteroids - 12.07.13

Richard Haswell’s latest release, “Asteroids” is appropriately named as it takes you on a cosmic journey through his psyche. Reigning from the UK he is bringing a vibe both old and new. It is slightly reminiscent of Depeche Mode, but has an edge unlike anything else currently on the radio.

There are long instrumental introductions that get our attention and start putting you into a dreamy state. Then he kicks in with smooth vocals that provide a succinct prosody between the lyrics and music. Haswell has an intellectual approach to his music that is thought provoking and intrigues your senses. This is a thinking man’s entertainment. It is relaxing but invokes awareness at the same time.

There is up tempo tracks that get your toes tapping and head bobbing. Then there are mystical head turners that make you stop and listen. The production is spot on and serves the purpose of representing the music to its best ability. There is a mesh of instrumentation that connects one sound to another with style and grace. The moment you feel fixated on one thing he twists and bends your emotions down another path, leaving you curious to see where he is going next.

Richard Haswell has put his heart and soul into this latest release, “Asteroids”. His talent exudes from your speakers and wraps around your brain like a blanket. It has an epic appeal and making waves across ages and miles. This is definitely a CD worth paying close attention to, it consumes your being.

I rate this 4 out 5
Rebecca Hosking

FreshOntheNet - 17.05.13 - The Thinner the Ice has been voted into the top 11 tracks that feature on DJ Tom Robinson's BBC 6 programme. The song is described as "An understated gem of self-expression and sonic talent. Profound."

Terrascope Online Review - Asteroids - 13.10.13

Richard Haswell had The Word's album of the month in June 2010, and here he is now with his new album "Asteroids," opening with the stark and striking 'Jarvik,' which hints at some of the early 'eighties British acts, though his voice is more Bowie, with hints of Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks - a voice that strikes the listener at once. The arrangement is synth-heavy, hinting at Joy Division and others of that ilk and era, as is that of 'The Undreamed Of.' 'Routinely Armed' is a bouncy pop song, again in synth-mode, though some guitars do poke through the mix. 'One More House From Happiness' is a bit of a dance floor stomper, again carried by Haswell's voice. 'The Distance Between You & I' is a trippy little bop through weird synth textures and sound experimentation, while 'The Water Poet' is a rolling guitar-inflected instrumental. 'Surfacing' returns the listener to 'eighties Britain somewhere up north (though with freer, whooping vocals, which work really well) and album closer 'The Thinner The Ice' is slow and melancholy, reflecting on broken relationships. What a very good, engaging and enjoyable album this is.

Access All Areas Music Review - Asteroids - 17.07.13

Solo Scottish musician Richard Haswell combines curious instrumentals with his own particular classic rock style. His music has a satisfying, retrospective feel reminiscent of Nick Cave, David Bowie and Peter Gabriel.

Richard Haswell’s imaginative 22nd studio album Asteroids was released on 15th July, 2013 on Rhubarb Music.

The noisy ‘Jarvik-13′ is a driving, forceful number with a cosmic, spacey and intense feel, whilst ‘One More House From Happiness’ is indie rock with a persistent rhythmic pulse. ‘The Distance Between You And I’, a dark, moody progressive song, is danceable but perhaps only just. Pleasant folk instrumental ‘The Water Poet’ contrasts with the vibrant and distorted ‘Surfacing’, whilst the gentle, reflective number ‘The Thinner The Ice’ is moving and melodic.

Asteroids is a fairly short but enjoyable album where the crisp, professional production helps maintain quality. It’s musically rich with interesting effects, good riffs and pounding guitars.
★★★★ Anthony Weightman

Hear-Feel Review - Asteroids - 14.06.13

Releasing 22 albums is no mean feat, and yet this is exactly the number that Richard Haswell has produced over the course of his career, under his own name as well as a couple of aliases. Admittedly, I’ve only heard of Richard and his work (under the Rhubarb pseudonym) but I’ve never actually listened to any of his work, so Asteroids is my virgin encounter with his material, and I’m pleasantly surprised for someone who appears to operate out of his home and record on his laptop (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Now, I’m a bit, ok a lot, out of practice when it comes to reviewing music that contains lyrics. It’s been some time since I’ve had to unravel the intricacies of lyrics and it hasn’t been an easy reintroduction with Haswell, whos songs are laid out more like stories in some cases as opposed to that more typical poetic or rhythmic meter. I must say, it’s quite nice not to have the endlessly repeated, entirely predictable verse-chorus-verse structure once again. Unusually titled opener “Jarvik-13″ is a really impressive start to the album and introduces is immediately to that storylike or almost conversational attitude on a bed of meaty lo-fi guitar and nicely propelling percussion. It’s bold and determined and unlike on later tracks, Haswell uses a second set of quieter vocals to give his message a boost in strength and credibility as opposed to the later personal comfort and affirmation. Here he is seen to take the moral highground, as he says:

“But I was never one to vent
I’ll just quietly remember every word you’ve said
This will feed my motivation”

That kind of home-grown vibe really does seem to come through on “Routinely Armed”, which oddly enough is not the longest track in playtime yet contains more lyrics than any other track. There’s an oddly flat and anechoic tone to Haswell’s voice, as always supplemented and reinforced quietly by himself in the background, a form of aural reinforcement and comfort. There’s lots of skittering percussion here as well as crooning, wailing guitars as Richard takes a possibly political turn in his work as policemen are mentioned as the track enters its final phase, but even throughout it becomes clear that he is unhappy as he talks of humanity and “lording [it] from your pulpit”, quite apt for these politically terse times.

Tracks like “The Distance Between You and I” have something of a Post-Rock feel to them with the vast guitar-drone leads, sparse content and slow builds. Even the vocals feel muffled and lo-fi to help build that mood. The more I read the lyrics sheets, the more I think that the “relationships” I mentioned earlier are not between a person but more an entity, as possibly hinted at in the political undercurrents of “Routinely Armed”. As the defocused, lo-fi guitar goes into a sweet breakdown I cant help but feel like Haswell’s references to “former glories” and gulfs and the thickening of his skin that he’s aiming his sights not at an individual but at a group, that former agreements and relatedness has been lost and he’s beginning to see the subtle changes that have generated this gap in opinions.

We have a late-album instrumental track actually in “The Water Poet” which is appreciated. Admittedly I would have been happier to have seen it break up some of the meatier tracks of the album a little, bridge a few gaps with some nice interludes, but alas. I’m not mistaken it also uses an unusual instrument listed as a “cardboard Appalacian dulcimer”, which has a jovial, tinkling sound not too dissimilar from a harpischord, which does seem a little odd juxtaposed against the grating, noisy guitars and high electronic warbles of “Surfacing”.

I was told by Richard that closer “The Thinner The Ice” was widely accepted to be the best track of the album from what feedback he’d received and I’m in some ways inclined to agree. It’s quite a slow moving piece that relies much more heavily on the acoustic guitar to create a more downtempo attitude not seen much in the preceding album, and seems to help bring us closer to Haswell’s voice, make it a bit more intimate. It’s also something (in my mind) of the continuation of the thread picked up by those other seemingly politically orientated tracks like “The Distance Between You and I”, raising references of hungry sharks whilst also admitting to the desire to forgive and forget but seeming to resign to the fact that it is too late as he closes with the eerily poignant lines:

“This is damage
This is permanent damage”

I’m probably way off track here and we probably are dealing with a cut-and-dry album that talks of the pangs and pains of relationships as opposed to all these political undercurrents I feel like I’m introducing for my own personal gratification, but whatever way you chose to approach Haswell’s album, whether that be from the heartbroken, love-damaged relationship perspective or the eerily similar political aspect, you can’t deny that this is a finely polished and intelligently crafted album that manages to plant itself nicely between the familiar and the ever-so-slightly unconventional, and pulls it off very well indeed.

Rock Club UK - Interview re. Asteroids - 18.06.13

Review by Kevin Hand, June 2013

I like this album, the latest by prolific solo electronic Edinburgh artist Richard Haswell. It’s extremely well produced, by the man himself, with references to post-Dark Side Pink Floyd. At times his voice sounds uncannily like Gilmour. But it’s more imaginative than that –first track Jarvik-13 is a driving anthem with treated guitars that sound like bagpipes. The Distance Between You and I feels like dark dancefloor Depeche Mode. And his admitted influences sound like a dream playlist – see below. Much is moving and mellow, especially the closer The Thinner the Ice.

I wanted to hear more – which should not be hard, as Richard has recorded over 20 albums! Recorded, produced and self-promoted, single-handedly. I was fascinated by this alternative way of music-making, and Richard was very open to my questioning:

KH: How easy it is it to self-produce your own material to this quality?

RH: If I was being honest the self-production process is a difficult and painstaking one. I don't have the best of equipment or software but having recorded on a 4-track tape recorder for years there are many advantages with computer software. Sometimes though a song will drive you to your absolute limit, as with Jarvik-13 (I almost lost the will to live mixing that! :). You are trying to get as close to the sound you have in your head and it often requires a lot of sifting and many different mixes before you get near that.

KH: Is it a personal choice, or would you prefer to be working with a label?

RH: Sometimes I feel I would like the support of a label, as to promote your own album requires a lot of work and it probably doesn't reach as wide an audience. Also the live aspect suffers - if I had a manager / label I would probably play live more but having to organise it myself it often gets put on the back burner. However I do love the artistic freedom I have to follow my own path

KH: I guess labels and managers give critical feedback, useful or otherwise– do you miss this when working alone?

RH: The question regarding critical feedback is a good one as sometimes you're not sure whether a song or mix is good or not and feedback can be useful at that point. Over the years I've learned to follow my gut instinct. Until I get a song to the point where it moves me in some way and that 'sound in my head' has been achieved, I won't release it. I like to feel when an album is finished that it's the best album I could possibly make at that moment in time.

KH what was your inspirations for Asteroids?

RH: my new album is always a conscious reaction to the album that preceded it. In this case, Safety In Movement was very favourably received but I didn't want to make a Safety In Movement part 2. That album had more of a folk / acoustic feel to it so I deliberately stripped acoustic guitars from many of the songs and avoided violins / mandolins etc in favour of synths and treated electric guitar to create more of a pop / rock album. While that may disappoint those that like my acoustic work I felt by the time I'd finished mixing the album that I had achieved my objective. A lot of my musical heroes like Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Tim Buckley, Richard Youngs, etc have been determined to follow their own musical path and they have been a great source of inspiration to me to do the same thing regardless of whether it's commercially successful or not - for me that is a bonus. I actually caught Richard Youngs live recently supporting Barn Owl in Glasgow and it was one of the most random, inspiring and unique performances I have ever seen.

KH: I saw him at Palimpsest in a Cambridge church a while back – it was amazing!

RH: As regards the title Asteroids, I felt that, unlike Safety in Movement, which seemed to have a common musical theme running through it, the songs on this album were more fragmentary and seemed to inhabit their own world, a bit like random rocks hurtling through space! Lyrically too, on previous albums my lyrics were often semi-autobiographical whereas there was a deliberate attempt this time round to create characters for the songs and remove myself from the process, so in that way the songs were more individual instead of relating to a common theme.

If the notable influences on Safety In Movement were Will Oldham, Neu!, Townes Van Zandt, Radiohead, Eric Taylor, James Yorkston and Pink Floyd this time round it was Teeth Of The Sea, French Kicks, Wooden Shjips, La Dusseldorf, early Simple Minds, Nick Cave, and my favourite album of all time - Heartworm by the Irish band Whipping Boy.

KH: Are you playing live in the near future?

RH: There are no definite plans in place to play live yet but it would be nice to play some small venues later in the year on the back of this album release. I would like to play with a full band this time round so we''ll see what happens...

Leonard's Lair Review - Asteroids - 02.07.13

Recording both under his own name and that of the disturbingly-named Rhubarb and G For Gnome, Scotland’s Richard Haswell has been making albums of a space/prog rock bent for over twenty years. Pleasingly, for a cult concern, the fact that his music still strikes a positive chord and yet also sounds rather “out there” after two decades is something he should be proud of.

‘Jarvik-13′ is an early indicator of Haswell’s penchant for space rock. It’s not unlike The Secret Machines in its execution but newcomers to his material may wonder what they’ve let themselves in for. Well, on the evidence of the next three tracks, some surprisingly infectious indie/prog rock, as it happens. Underscored by a nagging guitar line, ‘The Undreamed Of’ proves that there’s a tunesmith at the heart of this record. The good run of form is continued on ‘Routinely Armed’ whilst an insistent, rhythmic pulse lends a modern indie rock edge to the involving ‘One More House From Happiness’.

Haswell is less successful when he succumbs to the kind of indulgence one normally associates with the progressive rock moment and for that reason ‘The Distance Between You And I’ feels like an unnecessary loss of momentum. Better is ‘The Water Poet’, an instrumental track but one which finds a hypnotic middle ground between folky strumming and throbbing bass. Full marks too for the excellent ‘Surfacing’ where Haswell swings and distorts like a Madchester Baggy act whereas the closing, reflective ‘The Thinner The Ice’ is a solemn yet dignified way to end the album.

Overall, ‘Asteroids’ sounds like the sonic result of Peter Gabriel entering a 1990′s indie club. Moreover, it’s another fine showcase for a performer who is content to do his own thing but also knows that it’s important to make his prog tendencies accessible too.

Bagging Area Review - Asteroids - 02.07.13

Richard Haswell has sent me various links for his album Asteroids (released yesterday). The Soundcloud player below has the whole lp, eight songs in total and it is pretty impressive. Opener Jarvik 13 sounds a bit like mid 70s Bowie and its followed by some other 70s inspired tracks- cosmic and spacey in places, kosmisch in others, equally melodic and noisy with a very good downbeat closer The Thinner The Ice. Worth a listen if any of that appeals.

Earthings Review - Asteroids - 14.06.13

Edinburgh-based Richard Haswell – you might know him as Rhubarb – dropped me a line to talk about his second album, Asteroids, out this July. It’s only eight tracks long, but it’s a pretty tight collection of tracks that take their cue from the spacier side of 1970s rock. “Jarvik-13" is my personal favorite, the way it kicks the record off in a flourish – a grand welcome, if you may. But since I don’t have a video of that, I’ll post what most reviews think is the best song on the album, “The Thinner The Ice”. By the time you hit this point Asteroids has already taken you on a roll, and this is a comedown that doesn’t lose the qualities of the earlier tracks.

Bluesbunny Review - Asteroids - 17.06.13

In the eternally spinning world of laptop music making the loop is everything and, even if the music is not actually looped, it will probably sound like it is looped. Using that limitation to advantage is Richard Haswell as he surreptitiously sneaks out his 22nd album “Asteroids”.

With such commendable productivity, it is perhaps unsurprisingly that Richard Haswell loops back over himself but, to his credit, he uses his trademark downbeat guitar crashing melancholy to divert your attention from the verisimilitude. This approach works best on “Jarvik” where that feeling of familiarity is overcome by the sheer force of directed sonic emotion.

With edgy guitar much to the fore in matters of driving his songs along, it is inevitable that a comparison is made to classic era Scottish guitar pop with that pleasing retro feeling being reinforced with the sound of analogue synths. It’s amazing the inspiration that you will find in a postcard.

Being recorded on a laptop effectively limits the sound here to flat, dull lo-fi which is a shame as many of the songs would have benefitted from a sparkier mix (and rather laughably, there is even a mastering credit for the murk!). Still, our Mr Haswell writes a good song and of that there is no doubt.

The Cd Critic Review - Asteroids - 04.06.13

Richard Haswell’s latest album ‘Asteroids’ is one that indulges in a more classic style of rock music, echoing remnants of big artists such as David Bowie, Nick Cave and/or perhaps Peter Gabriel. Spanning eight new songs, ‘Asteroids’ offers more of Haswell’s brilliant style as the singer and musician combines brilliant instrumentals with his own vocal style. There’s some brilliant styles and effects at work on ‘Asteroids’, which seems to present itself as an album that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the seventies or eighties. It is a rich and rewarding experience that offers crisp and clear sound production that spans across the length of the whole album.

There’s many elements on ‘Asteroids’ at work, which offer up a brilliant rock performance that is sure to please fans of a more traditional rock music style. There’s much to enjoy in the music itself, which seems to just run from song to song in brilliant style, with no stops or pauses or even any jarring moments in the sound itself. Everything sounds well produced, with there being a lot of effort in the overall sound of the album. It is rewarding as it offers up a brilliant vocal style, that is by no means perfect, but simply works well for the style of music it is accompanying. The main working force on the album seems to be the bass guitars, which feature brilliant riffs and grooves that are at times, reminiscent of Roger Waters or even perhaps Tony Levin.

There’s very little that is wrong with ‘Asteroids’ as an album, which seems to have had a lot of thought and effort put into its production. Perhaps a criticism can be found with Haswell in terms of the diversity between the songs. Whilst there is a superb flow to the album, with the instrumentals in every song complimenting each other, and giving the album a brilliantly thought out character, it seems that this is achieved through using similar sounding instrumentals for some of the songs, or similar structures, meaning that Haswell isn’t showing off everything he is capable of. However, considering how well ‘Asteroids’ flows together, it is easily forgivable, and barely a problem for the overall album experience.

‘Asteroids’ is somewhat a surprising album, in that it is one that seems to be hidden away, only noticed by those who have heard of the musician beforehand. It is one though, that is incredibly rewarding and brilliantly produced. There’s a brilliant writing style, both lyrically and instrumentally, which all comes together to present ‘Asteroids’ as a wonderfully strong album. All the efforts that have been put into the album by everyone involved has come off in brilliant style, making it a worthy album, and one that Richard Haswell can easily be proud of in his grand repertoire of music.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Leicester Bangs Review - G For Gnome - Storm Clouds Gather e.p. - December 2010

Well, the storm clouds might well gather, but if this EP is anything to go by, they won’t gather for very long. At a running time of just over 18 minutes you might expect to get a bit wet, but it’s not the time that matters here, it is the intensity, and the storm whipped up by G For Gnome is one of those that saturates, despite the sou’wester and wellington boots.

Although Richard Haswell, aka G For Gnome, (which is a side project from his ‘day’ job, as well as playing in his band, Rhubarb), doesn’t keep it up for long, he does manage to pierce the outer layers, and the inner thoughts, via these three instrumentals. Besides the intensity of these compositions, he also provides the listener with variation and scope to dream a little, although the territory borders on nightmare, so any dreaming might have a razor edge to it. He manages to create three very different ‘storms’ within this limited time scale. What he might conjure up on a longer time platform could be very interesting indeed.

Kev A.

Terrascope Online Review - G For Gnome - Storm Clouds Gather e.p. - December 2010

Released under the name G for Gnome, “Storm Clouds gather” is a intense three song collection from Richard Haswell, who also works under the name Rhubarb. Commencing with a heavy drone, that will have the neighbours banging on the wall, “I See Them Coming Over the Mountain” slowly becomes lighter in texture, melodies beginning to whisper out of the speakers as the piece slowly fades. With a slow chiming pulse “Europe 80” is a hypnotic electronic piece, albeit a brief one, as it ends after only 2minutes 21 seconds, its place being taken by “This is Where I'm At”, another monolithic revolving drone that draws comparison with Tangerine Dream jamming with My Cat Is An Alien. Stretching over ten minutes, the track hardly varies, allowing time for the listener to get lost inside its floatation tank energies.

Is This Music Review - G For Gnome - Storm Clouds Gather e.p. - January 2011

I was sure that the label (Rhubarb) was simply a vehicle for releases by one Richard Haswell but the opening track ‘I See Them Coming Over The Mountains’ is a six-minute ‘drone’ of synthesized sound. All very nice for immersing yourself in… er, third track ‘This Is Where I’m At’ is, as far as I can tell a reprise of the opener, except that this one is 9 minutes long, and does, to be fair, alter in volume and intensity (albeit very subtly).
But if drones aren’t your bag, there’s… ‘Europe 80’ which kind of fits inbetween its two sonic bookends. A single guitar note that’s quickly joined by an electronic tone, then scratching, and eventually, percussion. And some more synthesised drone, which repeats… it’s also mesmerising, but in a more constructive way. And at under three minutes, practicaly a stab at the pop charts. Well, compared to what surrounds it!

Bernhard Bessing.

AllGigs Review - G For Gnome - Storm Clouds Gather e.p. - November 2010

Another year, another Richard Haswell project, this time G For Gnome, an electronic-drone side-interest for the man who has rolled out nearly two-dozen self-financed releases during the past few years (and doesn't look like stopping anytime soon).

"Storm Clouds Gather" is a trio of laptop-generated beatless monotone-symphonies that hover menacingly, rather like storm clouds in fact, but just like a rainy day in Watford, the mood doesn't change a great deal - grey, wet and distinctly intense before petering out into nothing.

The exception to all of this is the sinister assemblage of turntable-scratches, gong and bass drums present on "Europe 80", woven into a tapestry of three minutes without too much in the way of ever breaking sweat. Which is something that neither of the other two tracks do, rather they emanate and gently drift past in a rather one-dimensional manner, something that Haswell hasn't done before. It remains to be seen whether more of this G For Gnome side project comes to light again, but Haswell's solo work dwarfs this by some margin.

Paul Pledger

The Word Review - Safety In Movement - July 2010

"A cheap cover with some trees on it, "man and laptop" - to me this spelt morose, possibly rather tinny folk music. But Safety In Movement is a remarkable thing - a strange lo-fi tardis of an album whose nine subtle songs unroll from the speakers like a soundtrack to some bedsit kingdom. Arise is acoustic Pink Floyd; Loop & Lil is a druid-like meditation on three strings that makes you stop working and stare out the window. The thrill here is great songwriting with an appearance of effortlessness. Edinburgh-based Haswell has been working on it for 2 years and has apparently recorded 20 albums to date - under the names Rhubarb and G For Gnome".

Kate Mossman

Americana UK Review - Safety In Movement - July 2010

Scottish bedroom pop Etudes

Haswell has recorded over 20 albums under the guise of G For Gnome and Rhubarb, but his newest venture falls under the far less silly moniker of his own name, and was tellingly two and a half years in the making. It sounds like it too. Haswell has a real DIY ethic to his music production, laying down the whole thing at home via laptap using just acoustic guitar, keyboards and drum programs, with some added bass, mandolin and effects from guests.

The sparse folk-hued opener ‘Magnetic North’ is something of a curveball as it resembles little else at all on the record; as for the remainder of ‘Safety In Movement’ Haswell comes on like a bedroom Radiohead, with traces also of other Caledonian pop-rock stalwarts thrown in amongst the walls of orchestrated noise and ambience.

Haswell shows himself to be an inspired arranger and sonic visionary throughout these nine DIY voyages into sound. The likes of ‘Dream Hill’ and ‘The Rings of Saturn’ sport an insistent drive and have definite traces of Radiohead’s skittering electronic aesthetics, experimentation, and impressive shards of noise nailed to it’s tail end.

‘Cause and Effect’ has Indie hit writ large all over it, what with its walls of electronics, rock anthemics and subtle guitar lines. Haswell’s usual dour vocals get raised on the chorus, and could be the album’s best rock song, though hints that his well written and realised songs could benefit from a more accomplished or expressive vocalist to present them.

‘Post-Goldrush Blues’ is the set’s most charming song. A real homemade paean with it’s archaic sounding drum machine clicking away, while Haswell charts the demise of a local record shop (Perth’s Goldrush Records, whose memory the album is also dedicated to) and the profound effect the contents of the shop had on local’s lives. Alt-Country aficionados wont be able to help but smile at his suggestion that you “Ditch those Beatles records and buy some Neil Young, then invest in a vinyl copy of ‘Old Number 1’” alongside its derision at hard drives, MP3s and modern day consumerist music culture.

No doubt Haswell is perfectly happy in his homemade DIY music capsule thank you very much, and good for him. He has very interesting songs, clearly has the ideas, and most of all the production talent and vision. However if he wants his work to get the attention it deserves he wouldn’t do badly getting hired help in presenting it.

Joe's Big Toe Fanzine Review - Safety In Movement - May 2010

Richard Haswell has previously been known as “Rhubarb” and “G for Gnome”. For his latest album, however, he has ditched the monikers and is using his real name. This move reflects the overall feel of the album. It is accomplished and grown-up, and his twenty self-released album experience shines through.

The album starts slowly. The first track, Magnetic North, is sparse and quiet, and it feels a bit like you’re sitting in his living room, listening to him playing his new song — there’s a sense of trepidation, as though he’s concerned you’re not going to like it. As the short song continues, though, his confidence seems to build. Which is good news, because the second song has guts. A solid drum loop propels the song forward, and Haswell plays a repetitive, Stereophonics-esque melody. What really stands out in this track though is the e-bowed lead guitar, which clashes beautifully with the rest of the instruments. By track three though, Haswell is beginning to show off his true colours.

There’s a sense of despondency across the album, a post-apocalyptic sort of feel, particularly in Loop & Lil, track five, which would not have sounded out of place halfway through a God­speed You! Black Emperor track. A few seconds after it finishes though, Haswell launches into a more melodic, slightly more upbeat number, and that e-bowed lead guitar is back again. as the album starts to wind down in the final few tracks. “Ditch those Beatles records, and buy some Neil Young”, advises Haswell in Post Goldrush Blues, a song lamenting the death of music. I doubt anyone’s going to be singing “ditch those Neil Young records, and buy some Richard Haswell” in twenty years time, partly because it’s two syllables too long, but if you were to walk past my house on a quiet, rainy evening, twenty years from now, you might hear Magnetic North, not Southern Man, drifting out from my CD player.

Bluesbunny Muisc Reviews - Safety In Movement - May 2010

In the bedrooms of this green and pleasant land live men who ponder life and record those thoughts on their laptops. Richard Haswell - also of critic's favourite Rhubarb - is one such ponderer and a prolific one at that.

Onwards and upwards as the saying goes. Well maybe not upwards as this is undoubtedly an introspective collection of songs. I don't know how old Mr Haswell is but you get the impression that he has passed the halfway mark and is therefore spending rather more of his time looking backwards than he used to. Certainly there is plenty of sentimentality here especially in the delicate "Magnetic North" and in "Post Goldrush Blues" - the ode to a defunct record company - while the echoes of classic Scottish guitar pop bubble to the surface and add life to the robotic regimentation of songs like "Rings of Saturn".

Similarly dark, "Arise" has the feel of a folk singer who has given up on writing about the Clearances and now spends his time staring out of his bedroom window at the urban emptiness that surrounds his own life. Having said that, one man's melancholy is another man's insight into the human condition. It's almost philosophy by Morrissey.

I can see this album having a resonance for a lot of people in these days of recession and depression but I also have to say that this is something of a soundtrack for the shadows and there is more to life than the shadows.

Leonard's Lair review- Safety In Movement - June 2010

Richard Haswell is an Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter who has self-released twenty albums to date. Intriguingly, his former projects include the dubiously-named Rhubarb and G For Gnome but based on this recording under his own name, his concerns are more grounded this time around.

Haswell’s soothing tones are tailor-made for comfort listening from the moment we hear him on ‘Magnetic North’ and when wife Shelley joins in, the song sounds even more intimate. At the other end of the scale, ‘Cause & Effect’ has the full epic band effect. Mostly though, his music is rather subtle; tracks like ‘Arise’ and ‘Driftwood’ possess a pastoral dreamlike atmosphere in keeping with the blurred cover art. The same cannot be said, however, for ‘Dream Hill’ which is discordant and unlistenable. Thankfully the chiming melody to ‘Post Goldrush Blues’ (a song which bemoans the death of music) is memorable for the right reasons and makes up fo that aberration.

Haswell’s vocals are rich with experience and sometimes I couldn’t tell whether I was listening to a 1970′s folk-rock veteran or a sonic experimentalist (witness the psychedelic/shoegazing finale to ‘The Rings Of Saturn’). What is more important is that his music is enjoyable to listen to and different enough to mark him out as a true independent artist.

Terrascope Online Review - Safety In Movement - November 2010

Richard Haswell is an Edinburgh musician with more than 20 self-released albums to his own and other names like Rhubarb and G  for Gnome. His current album, entitled “Safety in Movement” (Rhubarb Music RHU026) reveals an admirable lightness of touch based on quite simple but endearing guitar motifs. Opener “Magnetic North ” is a case in point, so organic it’s straight out of the wood and on which Haswell’s untutored but not unpalatable strains are supplemented by the pleasing chirrup of Shelley Haswell.

There is an unashamed stab at commercial acceptance on track two whereby a Supertramp intro gives way to Bryan Ferry style warbling before a headlong lurch into the sort of acme, mid-paced, anthemic plod so beloved of Doves, Snow Patrol, Elbow and any number of any other safe “rock” bands of the day. Thankfully this is but a momentary lapse of reason as Haswell rights himself with “The Rings of Saturn”, a breezy melody over a sub-motorik backing.

However what he does best is understated acoustic guitar-based musing particularly on highlights like “Arise” which is how you guess Roy Harper and Pink Floyd might have sounded had they renewed their musical collaboration beyond “Have a Cigar”. The funny “Post Goldrush Blues” a (tongue in cheek?) paean to Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt and old technology is another highlight. The rest is decent enough by any reasonable standard except for the odd place where the formula becomes slightly insipid. But there’s more than enough here to make me want to explore more of Haswell’s burgeoning back catalogue. - Ian Fraser

AllGigs.co.uk Review - Safety In Movement - June 2010

Edinburgh singer songwriter Richard Haswell has amassed over 20 albums during his career without ever becoming an overly well known figure. Most of his music makes for very good listening without ever being excellent and this release is another one from that particular stable.

The album is solid from start to finish, with some fine acoustic work. There isn't a bad track on the album which is always a good thing and a few of the tracks standout as clear highlights, including 'Magnetic North', 'Arise' and the excellent 'Driftwood.' The albums main failure is in its production. Apparently it was recorded on his laptop which actually makes it quite a good result the fact that it sounds this good but unfortunately at times, especially without vocals, the album is mired with a tinny sound that distracts and annoys. I will say now it is not nearly enough to ruin what is another good release from the Scotsman but it may annoy people who like their production values high.

Overall though this is another fine set from Haswell, and his level of consistency over the years without any major financial backing is something that can only be admired. Acoustic fans could do worse than to pick up this long player. - Patrick McKiernan

Is This Music Review of Safety In Movement - May 2010

If Richard Haswell was better known there would be riots outside the offices of dictionary specialists HarperCollins, for the word ‘prolific’ would be too restrictive - crowds would throw random letters at the building with reckless abandon in a vain attempt to create new words to describe the impressive work ethic of the Edinburgh musician. Okay, probably not but with Safety in Movement his twentieth album, we know this dude means business.

The challenge with this latest album from Haswell is not the quality of the songs, which would invariably score a creditable ‘not bad’ by anyone’s criteria but the sheer lightness of the production, which gives the music an uncommonly delicate feel that is difficult to really relax around, like sitting under a tree only to have leaves fall on you steadily. Peaceably wandering through forty minutes of pleasant folk-rock, there is a lot to enjoy on this album, especially if you have some spare time to lie perfectly still.

The only problems are that the songs lack bite, there’s some great ideas that are diluted in overly long songs when something shorter would have had greater effect. Perhaps that was contrary to Haswell’s intentions but it leaves Safety In Movement with an overbearing feeling of unfulfilled potential. ‘Arise’ and ‘The Rings of Saturn’ would benefit in more slender renditions, the latter certainly doesn’t need to be pushing seven minutes, and it’s telling that ‘Magnetic North’, the shortest song on the album, is one that has the most lasting impact.

There’s also the amusing ‘Post Goldrush Blues’, which is a protest song in support of Neil Young, requesting that we discard our Beatles albums in favour of Neil Young (because surely nobody could have both?), come on! That’s like trading an orange for a satsuma. There are more worthy villains on the music scene than Paul and John surely. This is definitely a good, if flawed, album but its difficult not to view this as something of a missed opportunity. It could be a lot better.

Subba-Cultcha Review - Safety In Movement - July 2010

Prolific Scottish troubadour on album number 20. Sometimes less is more!

Edinburgh musician Richard Haswell has been skirting the surface for 15 years now releasing over 20 albums and EP's under the name of Rhubarb as well as under his own name and via numerous 'side-projects'. He is that rare beast, a man who has managed to maintain an enviable level of creativity whilst never conceding to the demands of the mainstream, conversely this has meant he'll probably never be able to quit the day job, but he's doing what he wants to do how it wants to do it and you can't say fairer than that.

This latest release (2 and a half years in the making) was recorded on his home laptop with spare contributions from guest musicians. It is obvious from the outset that this is a labour of love but unfortunately I find it hard to imagine anyone but the already converted swooning over this pleasant and well meaning but ultimately forgettable record which at times can sound a little too amateurish for it's own good.

Haswell's voice is a cracked, expressive instrument which takes some tuning into but it suits his downcast songs down to a 'T'. Lyrically he's consistently engaging but never revelatory, whether it be bemoaning 'music today' (the Neil Young referencing 'Post Goldrush Blues') or a faded relationship ('Cause and Effect') and there are some great melodies and hooks hidden amongst the records layers of loops, synths and guitar. It never really comes together though and Haswell's voice (think Roger Waters circa 'The Wall') just isn't strong enough to carry some of his more ambitious melodies. He's much more effective when he's not trying to sing (such as in the doom-laden 'Arise') and just lets his fractured, caramel tones voice the words naturally.

It's a shame Haswell has never actually sought out wider acceptance from the industry he so obviously despises as I genuinely think it would cause him to hone his craft. As it stands though he's probably happy to remain a cult, bedsit figure churning out a couple of mediocre albums a year. What a pity.
Benjamin Hiorns

Is This Music Review of Anthology 98-08 - March 2009

Rhubarb – Anthology 98-08(Rhubarb Music)5/5 *****

This two disc anthology contains tracks from 15 albums recorded by Richard Haswell between 1998 and 2008. Up until 2004 he recorded using 4-track, and since then it has all been recorded by laptop. And it sounds fantastic.

 As would be expected from this set up, many of the songs are just guitar and vocals, although often with an added edge. ‘Act 3’ starts off this way before moving into a heads down no-nonsense boogie that Status Quo would be proud of.  ‘Hannalou’ brings to mind Ryan Adams, ‘Phoenix’ is 5 minutes of out and out rock, sounding a little like Beck’s ‘Novacaine’, and a couple of tracks (‘Cuckoo’ and ‘Flotsam’) sound like Joshua Tree era U2 (which for one man recording on 4-track is quite an achievement).

‘Hell Is In Hello’ has heavily distorted vocals over a wonderful 80’s style synth, and ‘Molly and Me’ is reminiscent of ‘Violator’ era Depeche mode. The following track ‘Jesters and Kings’ is a Big Country style epic with lyrics revolving around battles and fire.

The most heartening thing about this compilation, is that it is the tracks from the two most recent albums ‘The Julius Work Calendar’ and ‘If I Could Only Make It Through January’ which standout. ‘Perfect Parallel’ is a gentle acoustic song, which contrasts perfectly with the more abrasive and distorted ‘Brick By Brick’. The last three tracks all come from ‘If I could Only Make It Through January’ and after all the distortion, feedback and static of previous songs, finds Haswell in acoustic reflection, content to leave his vocals unadorned.

This is a terrific introduction to the music of Rhubarb, and hopefully it will lead to the success, and recognition, that he so richly deserves.

Leicester Bangs Fanzine
Review of Anthology 98-08 - March 2009 Rhubarb - Anthology 98-08

Some names inspire mystery and awe. Rhubarb isn’t one of them. Rhubarb the band is one person: Edinburgh based guitarist-singer-songwriter Richard Haswell. Since 1998 he has released over 20 albums, and a large chunk of them are represented on this 37 track / 2 CD-r anthology. Considering the time span and the wealth of material on offer, the sound and style remain consistent throughout.

Haswell deals in folk nuanced melancholia and simple, fragile, uplifting, indie guitar pop. Nothing too taxing on the surface, but his words beguile and bewilder in equal measure, and without overstating his case, it’s understandable how he commands the sort of respect amongst his small but loyal band of supporters, that is usually reserved for cult favourites like Simon Joyner and Paul Roland.

It almost seems pointless listing the titles and emphasising particular favourites, as different songs will mean different things to different people. If you’re yet to dip your toes into the Rhubarb patch, then this is the obvious place to begin (and at £9.99 inc. P&P - see the Rhubarb website - provides excellent value for money). It wont be for everyone; the lack of gloss may well alienate some, but for those with open minds and in search of shelter from the corporate storm, go here, pronto!

Rob F.

Terrascope Online review of Anthology 98-08 - March 2009

Some more quality songwriting can be heard on “Anthology 98-08”, a double CD collection culled from the 21 albums released so far by Richard Haswell, working under the name Rhubarb. Similar in feel to Paul Roland or Early 90’s Robyn Hitchcock, this is thoughtful and intelligent music that slowly draws you in and then enchants you.

Mainly quieter in construction, there is still plenty of variation with the storming Hawkwind like rocker “Phoenix”, shaking the dust from your brain right in the middle of disc one, whilst the psychedelic “Red Sky” from the same disc has a definite Porcupine tree vibe. On disc two, the delightful “Travel Song” will make you smile, the pastoral “Act 3” will make you want to open a window and the spiralling guitar of “The Fall of the Sparrow” will make you want to turn the ****er up.

With 37 songs to choose from there is always something here to keep you amused and nothing to make you recoil in fear. An excellent introduction to an independent and talented musician.

Terrascope Online Review - May 2008
 
Showing a melancholy state of mind this time around Richard Haswell AKA Rhubarb has delivered his finest work so far in the shape of “If I Could Only Make It Through January”. With sparse and effective guitar, opening track “Fade Out/Fade In” is a minor key and personal song, the vocal delivery immaculate in its delivery. Even better is “3 Seconds”, the violin melody, matching the mood with understated passion. On “Wanderlust”, the addition of drums and distorted guitar gives the song a noisier demeanour, something that quickly dissipates when the haunting “Third Lanark” takes the album into darker places. This is possibly my favourite piece on the album, the ghostly percussion joined by banjo and guitar in twilight perfection. Finally, after the Roy Harper (ish) “September Wasps”, some beautiful violin enhances the delicate phrasing of “Alyth North”, a sad and gentle instrumental that ends the album with a downbeat flourish.

Woven Wheat Whispers Review - March 2008

Is it already album number three for this musical maverick at the service?   If the winter's seem darker and Summer ever shorter, then Rhubarb is here with his broken-down acoustic songs of solace.  His music forever sounds on the edge of falling apart in an emotionally devastated heap but he weathers on, fighting against the elements.   On dozens of releases he has established a quiet following who find his music the antidote to the supposed glamour of today's music industry.  Here it seems is our very own voice, unique like Will Oldham or Robin Hitchcock and operating outside the conventions of music labels like Damien Youth.   Although often fragile, his music can sway almost prettily as on the upbeat 'Wanderlust'.   His music isn't depressing though it's uplifting, getting on with life however it can.   He's the loner in the snow, hands thrust deeply into his pockets looking through the windows at us in the warm, all we have to do is invite him in.

Toescabs and Teardrops Review May 2008

I was understandably plussed when the lauded and laudable Edinburgh based "Rhubarb" dropped a line to our humble myspace site.  Broadly speaking, I would position Rhubarb as one part neo-folk,  two parts electro-kitsch, three parts shoegazer, four parts lo-fi, and in all parts awesome. If Leonard Cohen, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive, and the Sisters of Mercy were to form a pandrogynous being I think it might write music rather like this... However, none of these appear on Rhubarb's influences, and they liken their sound to "Nick Drake, Bonnie Prince Billy, Damien Jurado". My comparison occurs to me as I listen to the song "Hell is In Hello" off the 2002 release, Igbo. But I insist it stands.
"Hell Is In Hello" is actually the third song which came up on the auto-play and is not exactly represantitive of the others, but, like most bands I like none of the songs offered are definitive of "the" sound.
Fantastically, Rhubarb offers six songs from four differnt albums for all of our grub hungry ears.
"Pillow", from the 1999 self released album Piranhas, is where the auto-play actually started me. It is a simple piece of pluck and glum, a guitar, a voice, a fair dose of echo, a lament for the surface of our age which is anything but pillow-like. This reminds me of something, the melody is reminiscent of Current 93, but the singing I can't exactly pin down--but whatever it is it's feel is definitely "vintage".
In terms of lyrical wit, my vote would have to go to "Vent" from the 2008 release, If I Could Only Make It--"What is it with rappers and guns? There are easier ways to settle things". I'm a sucker for songs which repeat and drone, and this does both to perfection for about three minutes... Actually, it does not so much repeat and drone as it spools and winds the listener to a crescendo where not only no more slack remains in the string of their soul, but to the point where that soul snaps. Also on this album is the song "3 Seconds", which, I am sorry to say left me a little non-plussed after the soulful event of "Vent", and that despite the violin (or is that a viola?) and the image of 'vultures in my head circling a dream dead'.
"Brick By Brick" on the 2007 release "The Julius Work", is impossible for me not to like, and not only because I think I heard mention of a guillotine. But possibly because the vocals have an excellent overdriven and slightly distorty quality as they croon "brick by brick, you bring me down" and in such a way that not only convinces me this song is the perfect expression for something which has happened to me, but which leaves no doubt in my mind that Rhubarb has 'been there too' at the walls of their body as its mortar weakens and its weight gives out... "Perfect Parallel", off of the same release, is one of those short perfect pieces which is so god damn melancholic its emotive core somehow becomes hopeful and happy... It is a love song, and if I were to compare it to another love song which has almost the exact same effect on my scabby self it would be "Winter Lady" from Leonard Cohen's first album, only with an extra electro-pad flourish underneath the the pithy not-quite-whine of love and life in a darkened room.

Clickmusic review - Nov 2007

Rhubarb - The Julius Work Calendar
Label: Rhubarb Music
Release Date: 15/11/07
Rating: ****

After self-releasing a score of albums, Richard Haswell took some time out - three years to be precise - to write the highly anticipated 'The Julius Work Calendar' under well-worn moniker Rhubarb. For those who are aware of Edinburgh based songwriter, the complex character expressed in this album will come as little surprise, but for those who have never heard of Rhubarb, the album may trace an uncomfortable journey that the ear is unprepared for. It isn't that the ten tracks are noise and discord; rather, the depth of sadness burrowing inward from each song demands an attention most are not willing to give.

Much like the acidic Bill Callahan in his 'Julius Caesar' or 'Wild Love' days, 'The Julius Work Calendar' seems intended to alienate the listener by forcing him or her to face that which is uncomfortable to face. Each song is lyrically highly personal, with sharp cuts of sound, and is accompanied by a particular brand of intimacy, though the intimacy of a murderer not a lover. The hypnotic beat that starts 'Forest Fear', and breaks open to a trash can rampage, resembles the pulse of a criminal building up to his moment of passion, while the steely acoustic guitar riff stabs sharply into the darkness emanated by Haswell's distorted voice. Like fellow sonic-masochist Callahan, Haswell often hides behind layers of effects, only coming to the fore in moments of warmth or confidence - like in 'Too Close To See' where the disarming gentleness of his voice is eventually corroded by a metallic reverb. The chorus becomes uplifting only when considered against the backdrop of ominous tones.

The familiar sounds instruments should make Haswell ignores; instruments are shredded, extended to their breaking point. Acoustic guitars become angular when they are not distorted, and jagged violins do not croon as they normally do - they screech like a dying animal. Haswell uses his instruments to confuse and amplify the failure of our expectations - so when they do play nice and fuzzy the results are glorious, like rain in a desert. There are some sunny spells that light up the landscape too, like in 'As If' and 'Perfect Parallel'.

Although probably not the masterpiece his fans had hoped for, Rhubarb has created a subtle record with the atmosphere of a storm. It is chaotic and brooding with flashes of incredible brilliance and loud bangs. The songs buffet the listener from one emotion to another, and it is all in the music, which creates a magical experience. A listener should be touched whilst in its presence, even if one is unsure of why.

Daniel Good

IS THIS MUSIC Review Dec 2007 - The Julius Work Calendar

Rating :
*****
The Julius Work Calendar is the new album from Edinburgh based musician Richard Haswell. This album, like all his previous efforts, has been recorded pretty much by himself on either 4 track, or on his laptop, which considering the range of sounds which he has created is
a very impressive feat.

On the opening song ‘Forest Fear’ he manages to evoke memories of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ era Pink Floyd, with the rest of the album tending more towards the twisted folk of King Creosote and the more experimental side of James Yorkston.

The album’s fourth track is ‘Perfect Parallel’ a bruised ballad, which is followed by ‘Brick By Brick’ which, with its distorted and cracked vocals is the best track on the album. After this, the album takes a welcome instrumental break with ‘Boiler Room’, as if perfectly placed to let Haswell’s voice have a rest after ‘Brick By Brick’. The highlights from the remainder of the album are ‘52nd State’ which sounds a little bit like Rachel Steven’s ‘Some Girls’ (but in a good way), and ‘Lanterns’ which is heavily influenced by acoustic Led Zeppelin.

In short, this is one of the best and most varied albums that I have heard all year
Bryan Jessiman

Terrascope Online Review (The Julius Work Calendar) Nov 2007

‘The Julius Work Calendar’ is the latest offering from Richard Haswell working under the name Rhubarb. Treading the same path walked by the likes of Paul Roland or Robyn Hitchcock, the album is a fine collection of psych-tinged songs that have plenty of character of their own.

After the moody delights of ‘Forest Fear’, a Zeppelin Drum sample introduces the excellent ‘Kill It At Birth’, the tune rocking along with style. Throughout the album there is plenty of atmosphere and variety, with the acoustic based ‘Too Close To See’ tugging the heartstrings, whilst the drone led ‘Boiler Room’ is a more experimental slice of sound that works admirably.

Final song ‘The Banks of Claudy’ sets traditional lyrics to some droning strings and shuffling percussion, capturing the essence of the story with downbeat accuracy.

Woven Wheat Whispers Review - Dec 2007

Rhubarb is Britain's own enduring eccentric song-writer making his own style of acoustic indie-pop song over a number of albums.   Earlier this year he bought his 'Introduction To' album to our service and here we have his most recent set.   Richard Haswell (aka Rhubarb) has a developing aspect of folk music to his releases which is evident on this release which the artist took three years to make.     Many reviewers are discovering Rhubarb for the first time and wondering how he can have passed us all by for so many years.     Daniel Good reviewed this new album like this:
(Quotes the ClickMusic review in full.....)

This sums up the appeal of the album excellently.  When writing about his last release at the service we wrote a description that we have seen widely used since and so we say it again, to spread the word about this singular artist.   "There is so much to enjoy, his music feels constantly as though it will fall apart but it never does. Instead we are charmed and often moved by his outsider view, the eccentric perspective of the duffel coated geek with only one lens in his glasses. So it's not purely folk? Where else is he going to go? Let's welcome him in."     We've welcomed him in last time, now let's make him a tea.

Woven Wheat Whispers Review - Jan 2007

It's genuinely surprisingly that spending my time reviewing and writing about music continually that an artist as established as Rhubarb should have completely passed me by. Until Richard Haswell who effectively is Rhubarb got in touch, to my shame I hadn't heard a single album by him. I've often scratched my heard since wondering how that could have happened. After all he's released thirteen albums, has a loyal dedicated fan base and was in a band called White Noise for four years. It just shows that the popular music press must have missed on out on this musical treasure too. Thankfully we now have the opportunity to redress the balance and little and hope to bring more music from the artist in the future.
This album brings together songs across the various albums as useful introduction to his varied music. By now I'm sure you're wondering like me what the music is like, so let's press on. Opener 'Curtain Call' has a slow acoustic guitar a repetitive, insistent electric keyboard behind his deliberately blurred vocals. Although Richard has been making acoustic singer-songwriter music for years, it is perhaps only over the last few that popular music's easy acceptance of the form has grown again with artists such as Damien Rice. I'm sure both artists could reference such as Nick Drake, Damien Jurado and Sparklehorse as influences.

There is the beauty of fragility broken in these songs. On this song his guitar chimes like a mandolin, piano adds simple melodies and dirty processed drums undermine the beauty to avoid it becoming over pretty. It's a great sound, wonderful melodies and it is frankly, only the first song. The songs seem to come from the perspective of the outsider, the rejected and freaks. Such a view permeates through 'Circus Clown', the kind of elegant acoustic song from a bruised heart we associate with Ray Davies. The artist really does know how to write and structure a song.
The guitar at the start of 'Parallel' isn't flashy, but it picks out exactly the right notes, underpinned by a murky bed of sound. Richard starts to sing, as though he is only just awake and it's a moment that tears at you. He's just about holding it together you think to yourself. It doesn't seem artificial or a pretence, it's just that he's more than a singer, there is an artistry here that allows aspects of his personality to seep out in the music.

There are so many great songs, it doesn't make sense to reveal everything about them. But pick some at random and there is always something new. 'Sky' has shuffling drums, spoken word, an almost whispered vocal and spectral keyboards. 'Illmaintained Fairground Contraption' is like Tom Waits relocated to an abandoned northern British fairground. Seething guitars, ghostly electronics, stereo processing effects and a gutterbox voice. 'Road Works Intolerance' is despair at the modern world in the hushed style of the Velvet Underground's minimalist acoustic third album.

'Molly and Me' sounds like Rhubarb is backed by Boards of Canada, muddy ambient electronics, bird song and graceful keyboards combined with his vocal. 'Stone' evokes Harry Nillson spaced out. 'The Fall of the Sparrows' live shows Rhubarb playing ace dirty electric guitar too on a Yo La Tengo type song. Although naturally we try to place an artist in context by mentioning others, he is a distinctive talent who should of broken through to wider acclaim. There is so much to enjoy, his music feels constantly as though it will fall apart but it never does. Instead we are charmed and often moved by his outsider view, the eccentric perspective of the duffel coated geek with only one lens in his glasses. So it's not purely folk? Where else is he going to go? Let's welcome him in.

Daily Record Review March 2007

"..if there were record deals for workaholics Rhubarb or Richard Haswell would be Robbie Williams. Fourteen albums and counting, this is a compilation of all his best bits and the best place to start before he releases his new album, The Julius Work Calendar, due out in May.With a voice like Bob Geldolf, Rhubarb has the rootsy alt.folk of Eels, or late solo work from Peter Gabriel. It's odd but draws you in, especially beats driven tracks like Red Sky, Forest Fear (Live) and Solid Ground which sound like The Wall-era Pink Floyd in their hypnotic qualities. "

Terrascope Review - Feb 2007

Those of you who like Robyn Hitchcock or Paul Roland should check out the gentle psych songs of Rhubarb (AKA Richard Haswell), their soft melodies and pithy, world weary lyrics contrasting brilliantly on such songs as “Static Record Collection”, a song about growing old in the comfort zone. With some well constructed guitar solos and thoughtful arrangements, the song sparkle with electricity, with song like “Red Sky” and Ill-Maintained Fairground Equipment” being given plenty of room to soar. Throughout, the lyrics are well worth paying attention to, being humorous, sarcastic, optimistic, and nostalgic, often at the same time. With at least fourteen album to choose from “An Introduction To…” is recommended as the perfect doorway into a weird and wonderful universe you may recognise as your own.

Review from Is This Music Issue 26 - March 2007

"Rhubarb. A perennial plant, often used in cooking for its edible stems. The leaves, however, are highly toxic if eaten, and it’s widely considered to have a strong laxative effect. An interesting name for a one-man musical experiment, then.

Maybe the success of Conor Oberst is to blame, maybe technology has finally made the one-man band a financial possibility for wannabe musicians, maybe it’s just tough to find a decent backing group nowadays - but more and more closet musicians seem to be taking the DIY approach.

Luckily Rhubarb (real name Richard Haswell) is a cut above many of these self-made rock stars. The crackly intro to ‘Curtain Call’ probably felt like a good idea at the time, when in reality it becomes irritating after about ten seconds, but much of this‘Best of…’ compilation is unusually well-polished.

His half-spoken vocals aren’t always up to the challenges he sets them, but you can’t blame a man for trying and there are some genuine lo-fi gems to be dug up. The mechanical whirrings of‘Ill-maintained Fairground Contraption’ support moments of moving lyrical poetry, while the Jean Michel Jarre-like ‘Solid Ground’ provides the album’s heart, and its high-point.

Something of a mixed bag overall, but with a surprising strength of vision. Still not sure about the name, though."

Matchbox Records review :

"..Ending this extremely brilliant eclectic new music feast we have the appropriately titled " Curtain Call " from the wonderful, eccentric and heavenly melody maker RHUBARB . Rhubard is actually bedroom musical genius Richard Haswell at work in a different disguise. He has been recording music for years and has played in many bands but is only now getting noticed for his extreme talent and creativeness. This great leftfield acoustic based song is very different and a bit Mercury Rev like in a lo-fi experimental pop way. There are lovely distorted drum loops that thump in the background while lovely piano notes twinkle over Radiohead Spanish style guitars. The vocals are melodic and distinctive and create a mood of escape that chills your mind out completely. A breath of fresh air with a twist of leftfield beauty. You can also hear scratchy record sounds which indicates that either it was recorded before CD's were invented or Rhubarb has access to some rather modern recording software that can emulate that authentic analogue sound. We think it's the first but not sure yet. But anyway.....it's great and the perfect song to end this alternative, leftfield, acoustic , rock, electro, eclectic new music extravaganza.