While it’s unclear whether or not London-based four piece Rothko ever actually split up, it’s been a while since they actually recorded anything. Their last studio recordings ended up on 2010’s Sunset To Sunrise EP. Following an appearance at the Half Die festival in Rome they decided to record new material. Severed Tense EP appeared last year and now we have their first long-player in 9 years, Discover the Lost. Typically, the musical interplay between the band creates soundscapes that are haunting just as much as they are melodic.
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This long running collective headed up by Mark Beazley are one of the few bands who I can think of (Hugo Largo, Morphine and...um....Freebass spring to mind) who use more than one bass guitar. They used to have three basses but are now down to a measly two but the sound of them intertwining is still enough to burst your heart and to remind yourself why bands with such a distinctive sound must continue to exist despite general public apathy.
They create a series of dark spiralling instrumentals which are sometimes bright and bouncy (the opening 'Discover the Lost' is like the Durutti Column with guitars replaced by basses but most often are cinematic and bleak. One day Rothko might make good soundtrack fodder but for the moment I'm enjoyiong listening to 'Break the Chain' in which the two instruments coil around each other like snakes. 'Thought For Tomorrow' has hints of the early instrumental power of Young Marble Giants but with a dark threatening power that could bring to mind some of the post metal droners like Sunn O. With so few instruments at their disposal the worry of sameness is definitely a threat but there are moments of bliss out ambience to break the two bass spell that weaves through the album. 'Time That You Took' in particular is a gorgeous slab of dark ambient drift that intensely buzzes around your brain.
Unique and, yes at times challenging. Rothko do their thing here to lovely effect mixing pretty instrumental pieces with more hazed out forays into unsettling drift.
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