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 [a]Labradford[/a] and Windy & Carl, London’s [a]Rothko[/a] 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 [a]Rothko[/a]’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 [a]Rothko[/a] walk it, it’s very fine indeed.