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Oaks

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Album Review

Ethan Rose likes antiquated instruments, and never has he tapped into one's resources more than on Oaks, his full-length CD debut. The instrument in question is a 1926 Wurlitzer Theater Organ, which, in a different era, used to accompany silent film projection, before getting moved to the Oaks Amusement Park. All the sounds heard on the album have been sourced from that organ, but it takes a certain leap of faith to believe that claim. Rose treats and alters the sounds in so many different ways — then again, who remembers how wide the sound palette of these behemoths actually was? The music is delicate, graceful, and sweetly textural. Melodies are more hinted at than stated. A sense of experimentation permeates the eight tracks, altering colors and ranges, although never losing sight of the mood and the composition. "On Wheels Rotating," "The Floor Released," and "Bottom" are beautiful exercises in careful motion. The music rarely gets bouncy and has nothing to do with the kind of ankle-driving tunes you would expect to hear in a roller skate rink (where the instrument ended up). In a day where everyone's neighbor is releasing Fennesz-derivate electronica out of their bedroom, Oaks may not seem particularly original, but Rose's music manages to rise over the masses. And the man clearly had a goal and a well-designed plan. The album is not free of long-winded bits, but it sticks to the point, and produces its fair share of beauty in the process. In short, Oaks is a conceptual album that lets the music speak mostly for itself. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Biography

Born: Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Ethan Rose is an experimental ambient music producer from Portland, OR, who is influenced by musiquè concrete and whose interests include music boxes and player pianos. Affiliated with the Chicago-based independent label Locust, Rose made his full-length album debut in 2006 with Ceiling Songs. His second full-length album on Locust, Spinning Pieces (2007), is a compilation of three limited-edition releases on the label: Miniature & Sea (2003), ...the Dot & the Line... (2004), and Singing...
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Oaks, Ethan Rose
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