Sunday, June 05, 2005

(Review) Rothko & Caroline Ross - A Place Between


'A place between' is a remarkable, serene experience that flows around Caroline Ross’ languid and sometimes spoken vocal delivery, nothing breaks the tranquil spell apart, maybe for the sustained harmonica half way through but that soon gets caught in the prevailing flow. The instrumentation, as a whole is used sparingly in typical Rothko style with some lovely overlapping tonal hues.

On 'traces of elements' the gentle tonal changes running over the top of each other are like the slight distortions made by a heat haze of Summer. Guitar notes skip around the vocals then fragment as piano dots fall into the spaces between words similar to the way rain-logged leaves drop into water, the guitar being the ripple across the water’s surface.

As always, with Rothko’s music, the musicianship of this recording is outstanding with an intuitive respect for each other’s musical contribution. It’s like miniature modelling but in sound; the attention to detail is superb without any preconceived contrivances marring the experience. It all sounds so effortless, but I bet many sleepless nights were had in the conception. Everything fits together in a loose mesh that sometime gathers to produce some striking colours and I must add that the piano sounds here are so vivid you can almost see the dust displaced by the keys

The words to are given the necessary space to breathe, the music sometimes becoming fragmented, like musical echoes following the lyrics along - catching the light on the drift downwards. Patterns are lovingly sustained in the toppling, the quality of which remind me of those snow-globes filled with letters or the multi-coloured descent of leaves.On other tracks the instrumentation reinforces the mood and embodies the vocals with deeper significance - as on 'light in a dark place' (one of my favourites on the album). Here the guitar/strings form intertwined lines of sound that create a forest of slowly dissipating hues, blissfully embellishing the spoken words with greater profundity.

Caroline not only vocalises but she appears to be an expert musician as well contributing a reflective nature to the bass - I particularly like the duet on 'The Northern lights are out' where Piano and bass tread softly around each other like floating colours, diverting off and returning gracefully. You hardly notice the drone building in the background, as the instruments dance and a simple organ melody patters between the dynamics. Later the musical veneer fades and the drone starkly remains - fading into a revision of the first track, a lovely slow spoken vocal accompanied by a distanced ‘Harold Budd’ piano.

A wonderful album full of subtle details and lovely textures... a true document of collaboration indeed.

By Mr Autotistic (Cloud Boy)

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