Ethan Rose - Ceiling Songs
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Ethan Rose
Ceiling Songs

Originally released as a limited vinyl-only record, Ceiling Songs found one huge admirer in Wilco's drummer Glenn Kotche last year. He picked the record as his favorite of the year, and due to continued interest in the album, it's now finding a re-release in the digital realm. Comprise of three long tracks (that run a total length of just over forty minutes), the disc is an interesting journey through world-weary ambient musings.

With old piano rolls, broken music boxes, and other instrumentation as source material, it seems that Rose has started from the ground up, breaking apart just about everything before digitally reconstructing it again. "Song One" opens the disc and the music box and piano roll sounds are easy to hear as cascading washes of fluttering notes float dreamily by during the first portion as others stick and stutter in glitch mode. About halfway through, a scratchy field recording melds with backwards piano roll notes before the whole thing splashes into a deep pool of low-end drones and sonar-style pings to close out the track.

Whereas the first track really hit a stride towards the end, "Song 2" (which is the shortest piece on the album) never really goes much of anywhere as more of the same filtered backwards piano tones mingle with another scratchy field recording, ending as abruptly as it started. Although it starts out in familiar territory, it's "Song 3" that's the real highlight of the disc, as slightly more melodic music box notes are accompanied by what sounds like muted, filtered horns and some subtle guitar playing. The track shifts several times during the twenty minute running length, yet manages to stay very engrossing, sounding like an old Eno ambient piece about halfway through before turning on itself and evolving into a headphone must-hear as watery notes race across one another and move slowly downward in pitch, creating an odd vortex of sound that starts out light and playful and turns melancholy and dense. In the end, about half of Ceiling Songs is fairly familiar sounding (in a Basinski, Fullerton Whitman type of way) and decent, while at other points it moves beyond that into something greater. If you're into ambient music, you could do a lot worse, and it's obvious that Rose is going to be someone to keep tabs on in the future.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2006-09-07 19:37:37