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November 20, 2017


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Rothko
A Continual Search for Origins (Too Pure)

By: Mark Sullivan

After four and a half years, three full length albums, a mini-LP, numerous EPs, singles and compilation tracks, Mark Beazley decided that his band, Rothko, had gone as far as it could with its three bass line-up. He was right. Their first album, A Negative for Francis, may have drawn on the Cocteau Twins (Simon Raymonde even produced two of the tracks), but those three basses gave that sound a distinctive new shade. However, their last studio recording, the mini-LP In the Pulse of the Artery, Rothko sounded like recycled Durutti Column. It was pleasant, but who really needs "pleasant"?

Beazley annexed the band Delicate AWOL to form a new Rothko. The music is still very stark. Several of these tracks sound quite a bit like Labradford, but without that band's malevolence. The bass is still heavy in the mix, but guitar is now equally prominent. Some of the guitar is plucked at Loren Mazzacane Connor's glacial pace. Caroline Ross adds spare, but moving vocals on a few of the tracks. (I had never heard of Delicate AWOL before, but I now intend to check out their album on Fire.) And in a completely new twist for this band, "I Sense You Fading Away" features drums building to a driving beat before returning to its usual calm pace.

A Continual Search for Origins was crafted from songs Beazley recorded in and around the small village of Origin, Switzerland. His band's sound has been totally reinvigorated by this new approach. Well, it's a new approach for the band, but an old approach to music. This is an old fashioned environmental album. Although Rothko is not nearly as dark as most of the artists on that compilation, this is something of a return to the austere soundscapes of Isolationism, as the fourth volume of Virgin's influential "Ambient" series dubbed it. I give it an A.

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