Ethan Rose – Oaks (Baskaru) / Francisco Lopez & Lawrence English – HB (Baskaru)

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oaks hb

The recent barrage from Baskaru begins with the second fully-fledged effort from Ethan Rose, who thoroughly explores the network of pipes of a 1926 Wurlitzer Theater Organ. While Rose subjects the pipes to his computer and electronic processing, for the most part the emphasis remains firmly on musicality rather than material craftsmanship or sonic novelty. Structures in sound are what count for Rose, and he is careful to never overwhelm a track to kitschy effect. At times the music is weightless and pretty like a music box; at other points it has the more substantial presence of a sounding sculpture. He makes steady and relentless progress, moving with some ease between these two poles, naive tinkering turning into layering obsession and vice versa. In fact, the entire album comes across as a testimony to Rose’s personal obsession with his instrument of choice, and the album is favorably effected as a result.

From a different sphere, sound practitioners Francisco Lopez and Lawrence English each capture a sound event for this work and allow the other to process it as they will. Generally something of an appropriationist whizzkid, Lopez actually plays it somewhat light on “Untitled 175”, allowing the bird chirps and insectile rustling to sink into and rise effortlessly out of the soft buzzes and distant echoes of the piece. For his two works, English has minimal openings pass through a layering process, gathering in density and intensity, often with physical alterations of volume, before cutting back to bare bones and intricate micro-sound gestures. On headphones, it is a wholly involving and pleasurable listen. But one expects more from artists of their ilk, as the collaboration hardly bucks expectation and has little of the event about it.

Max Schaefer

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