Posted on Jul 14th 2009 12:45 am
08 Tracks. 37mins51secs
Hailing from Portland, OR, Ethan Rose works with unusual sound sources which he processes and collates into delicate atmospheric pieces to create wonderfully textural records. His debut album, Ceiling Songs, released in 2006 on Locust Music, documented his work with automated instruments (music boxes, taped up player piano rolls), which, combined with acoustic instruments and electronics, created a fragile and ephemeral world where textures were layered into gossamer formations. His follow up record, Spinning Pieces, published in 2007, once again on Locust, collected three tracks which had previously been released in extremely small quantity, and continued to showcase his work with automated instruments.
For his third album, Oaks, released on Baskaru in Europe, Holocene in the US and Headz in Japan, Rose has sourced all his sounds from a Wurlitzer theatre organ dating back from the mid-1920s, which was originally used to accompany silent films. Later on, the organ was moved to the Oak Park Roller Rink, in Portland, where it progressively fell into disrepair. In recent years, Rose helped bringing the instrument back to its originally splendour, and has since aimed at propelling into the 21st century. Opting from considerably shorted pieces than on his previous two releases, Rose retains nevertheless the same dreamy tone, weaving his processed sound sources into tight little vignettes, which, like leaves caught in the wind, continuously flutter and wave.
While the sounds used here are pretty unidentifiable individually, the warm tones of the Wurlitzer often come through to brighten up a particular sequence, smoothen a slightly too angular piece or pulse incredible resonating depth throughout. Album opener On Wheels Rotating, appears at first pretty straight forward, but the subtle changes in the underlying melody create an interesting counterpoint to the main theme. Rose uses a similar effect on Scene From When, but elsewhere, he scatters sound particles over his compositions to give them a shimmering sheen. This is particularly the case on Rising Waters, with its grainy glitches rendered through a short reverb, or Grand Marcher, which, in its second half, becomes a fascinating mine of microscopic activity. Later on, a discreet buzz is heard circling in the distance on Fortunate, while on Mighty Mighty, Rose assembles various chime-like tones, giving it a particularly airy and crystalline aspect.
With this album, Ethan Rose continues to explore sound in his very own way, bringing together old and new, organic and processed, textural and diaphanous, and makes the most of the rich sound pool of the Wurlitzer. Occasionally reminiscent of Fennezs in his approach to sounds, Rose has created, with Oaks, a wonderfully evocative and dreamy record.
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