Forty Years Without A Voice

It's a fine line between genre exploration and treading old ground.

In a sane world, you wouldn't often expect to think of waltzing through campaniles, or a ton of feathers drifting through a midnight-blue sky, but then, in a sane world you wouldn't expect quite so many people to be making records of such vaguely poetic atmospherica.

Drawing from the same deep drone vortex as Labradford and Windy & Carl, London's Rothko swerve accusations of rifling the bins at the post-rock copy shop largely because of their choice of instrumentation. All three members play bass, preferring its mysterious allure to the brassy good-time-had- by-all obviousness of the guitar, avoiding drums with their - tch! - explicit rhythmic wiles.

Instead, there's flute, trumpet and trace xylophone, while every shade of the limited bass palette is explored to the minutest gradations. Accordingly, 'Forty Years Without A Voice' isn't so much Rothko's second album as carefully blurred collection of chromatographic experiments. The vaporous 'Us To Become Sound' or 'Dream Of Mountain Air' are barely psychic lint, yet there are bolder splashes; the unwell trumpet writhe of 'Sky Blue Glow'; 'Open', with its monastic vocal misery; 'A Whole Life Of Memory' perfectly executing the old Kranky beauty/terror dynamic.

Ah, here come the campaniles again. It's a fine line between genre exploration and treading old ground. Happily, when Rothko walk it, it's very fine indeed.
7 / 10

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