Rothko A Continual Search For Origins Review

BBC Review

There is a stream of consciousness feeling to the music, its changes in...

Jules Willis 2002

Rothko, formerly a bass trio, was named after founder member Mark Beazleys favourite painter. Beazley explains the seemingly incongruous inspiration thus: "He worked in blocks of colour, we try to work in blocks of sound". Having released singles and albums on various labels including Fierce Panda and Lo Recordings, the group felt they'd had come as far as they could with the instrumental line-up after four and a half years. Jon Meade and Crawford Blair left to pursue other projects and Mark is joined on this new album by members of Delicate AWOL adding percussion, guitars, flute and trumpet to the melting pot.

The sleeve notes cite Marks visits to Switzerland as the influence for Rothko's first offering in their new guise. From his trip in August 2000 he tried to record and capture the sounds around him. "When I returned home and listened back to the recordings I'd made, it felt as if I'd brought bits of Switzerland back with me. All those sounds are present on these tracks. I wanted to try and create the feeling of being somewhere else, the sensation of traveling, of passing through, on my way to another place".

Although sublime, the idyllic blocks of sound are reminiscent of Japanese influences (indeed Mark recently collaborated with Japanese Experimentalist Sususmu Yokota) rather than the snow capped peaks of the Swiss Alps. You can in places hear the torrential rain of a passing storm and I swear at one point, I heard cow bells...

Nevertheless, this album does grow on you. Calming and serene; it isn't something you need to dedicate your whole attention to. It's not an assault on the senses, rather the charming of the subconscious. Difficult at times, to differentiate between individual tracks, it's to be listened to as an entity. There is a stream of consciousness feeling to the music, it's changes in instrumentation and atmosphere sometimes barely discernable until it's right on top of you, then it's gone. There is the detached feel of travel, like looking out of the window on a cross-country train journey, as Mark did in Switzerland. The music traces the outline around the expanse rather than fills it, so subtle, with each listen, it seems to change, looking in on itself in a continual search for origins...

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