"Reviewing an album by an artist you have always looked to for constant ingenuity is tough enough. But when that artist blurs the boundaries of music so much that it bleeds into art and literature, the task is ever more daunting... How do you review a piece of work that is so intertwined with other pieces of art and literature that it almost becomes a total piece of art? I can only imagine a live performance of the record as a total, multimedia experience... This may be jazz or modern music, but it is first and foremost it is art.
Frisell's task was a difficult one. To take one medium and turn it into another is truly to take an apple and turn it into an orange. There are few artists, avant-garde or traditional, that could have pulled this disc off. Frisell is one of them...
Frisell successfully wrestles with the concept of taking brushstrokes and turning them into sounds. Frisell has said that on other recordings he has overdubbed, mixed, and obsessed over them, but with this recording he wanted to give the feeling of the paint scraping across the canvas and deal with it being there. He wanted the visual of smearing paint to be heard in the music...
Every track does justice to Richter's paintings. From the most abstract, to the cleanest, most traditional, Frisell creates a symbiotic relationship between the art and the music. They work together as purely as two different mediums can.
This is an album that is better heard than reviewed. Watch the slideshow of Richter's paintings as the tracks are playing and realize that you are listening to the future of collaborative art. Frisell has pushed further once again, destroying normal conceptions of jazz and art." - by Ryan McDermott, One Final Note webzine
"It seems Bill Frisell has come undone. And wonderfully so. After a protracted and fruitful mosey through American roots music, the tireless guitarist and composer has evaporated into the ether. With Richter 858, he offers a series of new chamber pieces in which his ghostly guitar is present only in the delicate shading around the edges. At the same time, this is unmistakably a Frisell project. The compositions have the mixture of melancholy, ragged harmonic content, and offbeat playfulness that runs throughout his oeuvre.
Richter 858 was conceived by producer David Breskin as a musical response to Gerhard Richter's series of eight paintings, "858 1-8". The relationship between the paintings and Frisell's compositions is a fluid one, most vibrant when considering the effect of the musical and visual offerings in sum rather than looking for correlations between songs and the images that inspired them.
The 858 Quartet Frisell and long-time collaborators Hank Roberts on cello, Jenny Scheinman on violin, and Eyvind Kang on viola respond to the compositions intuitively, moving from abstraction to introspection and, briefly, to what's almost an old-time fiddle reel. Frisell's raveling and unraveling continue, to our benefit." - Bruce Wallace, Bay Guardian