Boomkat Product Review:
Melancholy, quizzically playful chamber music investigation of the artist’s relationship to houses he’s lived in, memories made in them, and how they affect his music.
Limning a pertinent subject for the precariat generation living below the ladder pulled up by previous ones, ‘Phantom Rooms’ revolves Soresen’s feelings on “home” in rural Kansas thru the prism of slow moving chamber music made with keyboards, VSTs, voice, electronics, percussion, guitar, and field recordings. The result is a subtle suite of mood music working in the aesthetic, conceptual fissures of concrète, electro-acoustic, and contemporary composition. To accentuate the feel of nostalgia and family ties to his childhood home, it incorporates instrumental touches by his brothers, Nyal Ruehlen (voice, chimes) and Ryan Wade Ruehlen (saxophone), alongside guests Damon Dennis (pedal steel), Alan Mudd (words & voice), and Scott Dean Taylor (drumset), who help to emphasise and skew the music’s dreamlike Americana nature.
Posited as a record about “homes, transitioning between homes and the histories and memories of houses" the eight parts drifts through parts that act as ‘Phantom Rooms’ of the same, meta-house, from the creaking swirl of keys and drones in ‘Qantic Vision’, to more playfully naif romp room vignette of ‘Beat Bot’ and starkly brooding spaces evoked in ‘Ellis’. The shivering string and spectral sax of ‘White As Green’ conjure a more haunted house feel, accentuated by voice-in-your-head delivery uncannily mixed in the ether, but the album ultimately removes somewhere comfortingly familiar and warm with the plasmic, heimlich towns of ‘Plastic Portals’ and its cinematic curtain closer ‘Bexar’ connoting a yearning for home in its burnished string and key arrangement.