As an Art major in college, I spent a lot of time studying the Abstract Expressionist movement of the mid 20th Century. For many people, it was the last straw of Modernism, they couldn't understand Pollack's dense and detailed dribblings, nor could they understand the simple fields of colour offered by Mark Rothko. I loved it, however, and even though I loved subsequent movements, I find myself drawn to these revolutionary works as they speak to me. I've spent time in front of Rothko's monumental works, allowing the feeling to seep in, considering beyond the simplicity of design, finding the landscape of plane and space within.
When English composer Stuart Russell began creating works based on Rothko's work, I was more than intrigued. What better subject for an ambient album? Rothko's work and ambient sound would surely work well together, and as Russell posted the pieces in development on SoundCloud, I felt that he'd captured his impressions of the works very well indeed.
The album, taken as a whole for me now for the first time, is very easy to sit through. The long sonorous notes, the subtle and gradual timbre changes, the thick field of sound match the colour fields of Rothko well, I think. My only regret is that I have nothing more than a couple of small pictures of Rothko's here in my apartment. I keep thinking that I'd like to take this in front of one of Rothko's works and combine the sound with the vision. However, travelling all the way to the Tate to see the actual installation that inspired it would be prohibitively expensive for me.
This album will be released any day now on Xylem Records. If you love ambience and synthetic sound, or the work of Mark Rothko, I can recommend it highly.
You can follow Stuart Russell on Twitter at @stuartr_comp and check out his page Stuart Russell Composer. You can also find his works on SoundCloud.