Boomkat Product Review:
Digitalis's Brad E. Rose (aka The North Sea, Charlatan etc) debuts on Room40 with his most rapturous collection yet - six tracks of bewitching, blissed-out synth drones that bear up to comparison with AFX's "Selected Ambient Works II", Steve Roach's "Structures From Silence" or Brian Eno's "Apollo".
Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Brad E. Rose has been quietly churning out music for decades at this point, working under so many different monikers and in so many different outfits it's been hard to keep track. Apart from heading up the beloved but now defunct Digitalis imprint, Rose also runs The Jewel Garden, where they've been releasing mostly their own private press-style material since 2020. "Annular Silhouettes" is Rose's first non-Jewel Garden solo drop in ages, and sounds like a subtle summation of their recent loose musical threads. Written in "the depths of 2020", the material is Rose's attempt at creating a love-letter to the place where they grew up, created in the house where their grandparents lived for over two decades, only a few minutes walk from their childhood home.
Tulsa is a complicated city with often uneasy politics, but Rose's view is holistic, empathic and sensitive - their memorial is melancholy and sometimes even cold, but never lacking hope. The album is split into six separate pieces that play together as a whole, all made in the same style with the same instrumentation. It's more of a continuing thought than an assembly of different tracks; Rose acknowledges that they enjoy the feeling of not completely knowing what they're doing, and letting their subconscious thoughts guide the creative process. Certainly that gives the music a level of spiritual kinship with Aphex's seminal "Selected Ambient Works II", which was allegedly partly written in lucid dream states. Rose's compositions are nowhere near as dark, but strike a similarly ambivalent mood that feels nostalgic, but not completely rooted in the past.
"Annular Silhouettes" sounds like an elongated take on Brian Eno's "Apollo" classic 'An Ending (Ascent)', and Rose uses the soft-focus synth tones to represent the sun rising and setting across Tulsa's wide, flat plains. It's hard not to be moved.