The Futility Room, the title track of Joseph Livingstone's album of electro-acoustic music, is a sonic depiction of the devastatingly sad painting by Degas, The Absinthe Drinkers. A sense of melancholy permeates many of the tracks and sometimes calls to mind Ingram Marshall's poignant soundscapes. Livingstone relies more heavily than Marshall on the sounds of traditional orchestral instruments, and his pieces tend to establish a regular groove, so some tracks could be mistaken for orchestral music with added sampled sounds. The rhythmic regularity sometimes runs on for too long, leading to a predictability that diminishes the music's impact. At its best, however, in Verloren and in the final sections of The Damage Letters and The Aloner School, Livingstone's music is evocative and viscerally powerful. He is also an accomplished percussionist, and several tracks feature his playing in extended solos. The sound quality is immaculate. Livingstone's music should be of interest to fans of electro-acoustic music that straddles the classical-pop divide and that makes thoughtful use of a broad assortment of traditional and non-Western sounds.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins