Fluid Radio Review – “for r” by Leonardo Rosado

28th November 2010

There are few prizes for originality in the now fat to bursting underground ambient movement that in recent years has established itself as a well pursued style among musicians in the bedroom and recording studio alike. Thankfully, gone is the misconception that spatial, soothing tones are the soundtrack to a middle aged breakdown inspired exploration into worlds of self-healing, pre-packaged cosmic nourishment and contrived pseudo-spirituality. For those who rightly consider these associations unjust and obsolete, a vested interest in all things melody, tone and texture is currently being satisfied.

In the resulting throng, it would be tempting for you to have your forgetting Jannick Schou or Jasper TX reconciled in the discovery of a David Tagg or Shotiharama… often too quickly for one to be able to catch up, new names and labels appear to be sprouting up all over the place. So, alongside the well established arsenal of soft synth pads, looped guitar textures and each artist’s chosen ratio between shifting and static melody, more characterful elements are introduced. This could be in the form of vocals, samples or the deftest of percussion. Or, in the case of a Leonardo Rosado and his contemporaries, field recordings.

On his forthcoming three track release ‘For R’, Rosado has managed to create a consistent work which, though it probably won’t win any of the aforementioned prizes, still satisfies the desire to climb into that familiar cradle of ambience and be lulled into a wakeful slumber.

The opening track has at it’s centre a relatively free-form and playful Colleen-esque jaunt on a suspected mallet instrument. The shuffling and plopping recordings that accompany this occasionally fall into a rhythm of sorts, giving an overall sense of loosely structured propulsion, perhaps pertaining to the title ‘How The Rain Fell That Day’ – whatever the case, it makes for a successful piece.

The second track, ‘Smiling Or Why I Fell In Love’, is a much longer affair at over seventeen minutes, spinning the tone into something that is lighter in it’s sparsity and timbre yet free of the childlike innocence that characterises the opener – instead we’re given a contrasting exercise in melody as the notes paint a much more eerie and skewed image. Stringed instruments, perhaps prepared or modified beforehand, are struck and plucked over a base of low frequency drone segments for most the duration. The presence of metallic, mechanical sounds captured in the played notes links the music to the more abstract sonic material which underpins it. The various clanks and scrapes seem to take on greater importance than is normally the case, a well appropriated bond forged between music and the physical properties of the objects from which is born.

‘The Sun Still Rises Everyday’, the final track, lifts the murk but not the pace, swathed as it is in slow motion sonic texture over it’s quarter of an hour span. It is a significant return to more a comforting environment as a series of soft and gradual interlocking drones drift atop a use of field recordings more prominently utilised than in track two. It makes for a fine conclusion to the release, taking from the calm serenity and wavering, almost accidental sounding rhythm of the opening track and the long-form sense of patience of the second, with veiled hints at something gracefully melancholic hiding, almost out of perception, in the far corners.

Rosado has put together a release which is overall an introspective listen, rather ambiguous in mood but hushed and meditative even during the middle track’s more unsettling moments. There is a lack of development to the music that gives a distinct sense of stillness and space, though requires maybe a little too much patience – anyone savvy to the works of Celer, Spheruleus or any other purveyor of subtly executed musical and non-musical sonics should, however, find themselves in familiar territory. It must be said that the numerous other artists doing a very similar thing are arguably doing so with greater impact, but one of the wonderful things about current ambient music is that each flavour, despite seeming done to death on paper, only has to exploit the tiniest variations of nuance to satisfy another gap you never thought you had in your appetite for texture, and appreciation of feather-light touches. With this in mind, it seems we can welcome another to the fold.

– Review by Daniel W J Mackenzie for Fluid Radio

Source – http://www.fluid-radio.co.uk/2010/11/leonardo-rosado-for-r/