Rothko

No Anchor No Chart No Rudder No Sails

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Continuing the band's productive ways, Rothko's third full studio album, a collection of previously unreleased tracks, appeared on the made-to-order CD-R label Burning Shed in mid-2001. No surprises on the general composition front -- all basses, all the time from the three members. Interestingly, the group pay homage to someone more known for his guitar work -- the Durutti Column's Vini Reilly -- with "For Vini," which does indeed have his lovely sense of filigree perfectly carried over to lower bass tones. Another good comparison point in general is Roy Montgomery -- again a guitarist, but while Rothko generally don't have as long songs as he does (and don't sing), more than once the dark, moody chime and digital delay that characterize his work have analogs here. The album as a whole ranges from brief experiments to lengthier explorations, generally favoring the shorter numbers (most of the songs are under three minutes long). Both conventional chord progressions and melodies and free-form experimentation are fair game for Rothko, sometimes relying on production instead of performance for the extra edge, but why not? Some of the group's more intimate songs, such as "Two," suggest something of the gently meditative work of prime 4AD bands like Dif Juz and the Cocteau Twins (the latter unsurprising, given Simon Raymonde's production work with them elsewhere). Others, including the epic grind of "Hunt For," one of the longest songs on the disc, and the shorter but no less effective "Crystal" capture the awesome dark ambient edge of drumless Neu! or Lull's haunting howls. Still others find their own particular balance between the two -- the combination of spitting feedback and straightforward notes on "No Chart" is a good example. "No Sails," meanwhile, arguably is the saddest of them all, a beautifully melancholy piece, its final notes sliding away into softness.