If there is one theme that ties together all of Rick Aster’s work, it is his determination to prove to people that they can do the things they see other people do. “We are all basically the same,” Rick says, “so if you see anyone do anything that really grabs you and gets your attention, something that makes you say, ‘How did they do that?’ chances are, that means you are ready to do something along the same lines, maybe the very thing that amazed you the most.”
For Rick, that moment came with a birthday present many years ago. As Rick recalls it, “My sister gave me two albums. One of them was the Bachman-Turner Overdrive album Not Fragile — and I can’t remember what the other one was.”
Rick was a musician at a young age, playing cello and composing Baroque instrumental pieces, but BTO opened his eyes to a new kind of music. Not that it was entirely new. Rick recognized immediately that the heavy guitar-based sound he heard on the Not Fragile album was built on the same polyphony that drove Baroque music. But the insistent melodic shapes, rhythm-heavy riffs, and personal messages connected the melody to the beat in a way that made it ten times as powerful. From that moment on, Rick was a hard rock musician. He would sitll use Baroque-style layers and countermelodies, but he would use them to produce an even stronger, more passionate beat.
Rick learned to play guitar and began to write songs and record them. But after his academy training in recording studio technology and his subsequent study of computers, Rick's engineering skills were in constant demand, and he found himself working overtime on the technological side of things. In the recording studio, he has produced, engineered, and played supporting tracks for every style of music from folk to heavy metal. He even made his own spoken-word recordings on computer programming. He proved adept at everything from setting up microphones to encoding web video, and if his fans know him as a performer, most of the world knows him as a technologist.
If the Rick Aster sound is a musical paradox, his work led him to another, deeper paradox. Using digital equipment and mathematics to describe the qualities that make a drum track compelling, he was writing unimaginably complex equations of decibels and milliseconds, but then found that these equations could be transformed into much simpler equations of muscle, intention, and ultimately, spirit. The equations told him that the musical answer he was looking for was not in mathematics, but was a matter of spiritual expression. Inspired by this discovery, Rick took up drumming, started lifting weights, and dug deeper into the question of spirit and its role in music and life.
Within a few years, he had become a shaman, using ancient methods and new ones to discover and affect spiritual forces and solve spiritual problems. When he writes about philosophical subjects, he provides the same combination of precision and sense of possibility that have driven his own career. Spirit and technology are sometimes seen as opposites, but in Rick's hands, they go together as naturally as, well, beat and polyphony.
All along, Rick has continued to play, write, record, and perform at any opportunity. With his new solo live show, he has completed the transition from sitting behind the mixing board to standing behind the microphone. Rick has promised on many occasions that he would put together an album of his own music in time, and the recent recordings he has released on the Internet hint that that time might not be far away.
Rick Aster | Main Stage | News