This is one of a tryptich of works just about to be released by Baskaru, and Ethan Rose, in the esteemed company of English/Lopez, and the Symbiosis Orchestra, presents something of a minor masterpiece in the form of “Oaks”. In my initial notes and musings on this album, I scribbled the words “dodgy cover”, and from there on the criticism ends, as Rose has turned in one of the most beautiful and engaging minimal works of recent years.
Based on field recordings taken from a vintage 1926 Wurlitzer Theater Organ situated at Oaks Amusement Park, Rose captured this remarkable instrument’s pre-sets and then subjected them to further agitation and treatments via his computer. The net result is a series of works that have a distinctly transcendent feel..delicate filigree shapes, ethereal vortices of sound, the organ’s original sounds being teased and coaxed into the new millenium via Rose’s deft hand. From the expansive opening tones of “On Wheels Rotating”, I was captivated by the sheer thrill of these fragile, heartbreakingly sweet fragments, drenched in reverb, and lush tonality. As a complete collection, Oaks takes us on a journey that encompasses straight down the line organ washes, combined with shavings of various timbres and organic incidents – splinters and speckles of the source instrument occasionally shimmer in the background, but Rose has seemingly effortlessly translated the strains of an aging machine, and mades them something very personal and captivating. Further high points for me would be the enchanting “The Floor Released”, and “Scenes From When”, that sounds as if it were commissioned for a 12k release – I can make no higher recommendation than that. Baskaru as a label, has firmly positioned itself in the public consciousness with three very fine releases indeed, and Oaks is the perfect entry point for the work of a composer who will undoubtedly achieve wider recognition. Your life just won’t be complete without this..essential. BGN