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Distant Sounds of Summer

Susumu Yokota & Rothko

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Album Review

A collaboration between two revered creators of exploratory instrumental beauty, the Japanese ambient/electronic mastermind Susumu Yokota and bassist/composer Mark Beazley (once of Rothko, by this point he was Rothko) — with occasional vocal contributions from Caroline Ross of Delicate AWOL, who has also worked with each of the collaborators individually — Distant Sounds of Summer tends to favor the eclectic, layered, sometimes overly busy sample-based approach of the former's mid-2000s work, but the latter's ever-graceful playing helps create a welcome point of continuity and calmness. After a somewhat off-putting opening with the stuttering programmed hip-hop beat that overpowers the would-be ethereality of "Deep in Mist," the album settles into lusher, more subdued territory, exploring an expansive array of textures and sounds (temple bells, harmonicas, bamboo flutes, droning synths) on top of Beazley's soothing bass tones, without always resorting to Yokota's familiar but somewhat intrusive percussion loops. Though the variety and experimentation is welcome and worthwhile, the album is perhaps at its best — albeit its most new agey — when Yokota is content to merely adorn and illuminate Beazley's placid, multitracked musings with sparse, atmospheric sounds and subtle tweakings, as on the title track, "Sentiero," and closer "Floating Moon." A notable and intriguing exception is "Path Fades into Forest," wherein a typically languid Rothko bass meditation gives way to a pulsing, funky house beat, to delicious effect. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi

Biography

Formed: February, 1997 in London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

At first an instrumental trio consisting of three bass guitarists, and later an outlet for the solo work and collaborations of founding member Mark Beazley, the music of the London-based Rothko is often meditative, minimal, languid and sonically nebulous, a suitable musical analog for the eponymous abstract expressionist painter. The group formed, as an outgrowth of Beazley's four-track home recordings, with the addition of Crawford Blair (whom he met through a magazine ad) and Jon Meade (with whom...
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Distant Sounds of Summer, Rothko
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