Room to Breathe

Here we have a very refined and restrained piece of minimal improvisation from the team of Samuel Rodgers and Richard Scott…their Oxygen Room (ie-037) was recorded in Birmingham and is released on the fine Slovenian label Inexhaustible Editions.

Richard Scott is a Midlands fine art painter who moved to Newcastle recently (he’s not the same Richard Scott who runs the Sound Anatomy label), and there are two of his meticulous pattern paintings reproduced on the cover of this release. He has played with numerous contemporary improvisers such as Phil Durrant, and co-manages the small label Physical Correlate. Samuel Rodgers also has a record label Consumer Waste and is a member of the Set Ensemble, and has a wide remit in his work – sound art, installations, performance, recording, all in the furtherance of creating and developing “spatial relationships” in sound. Today’s item though is all about intimate, small sounds, carefully explored, mostly acoustic…Rodgers is credited with piano and objects, Scott plays stringed instruments (viola and mandolin) and sometimes treats the sound with e-bows. Patiently, methodically, the players weave their delicate sonic webs with the patience of the cellar spider, seeming to move in slow motion, as if intent to sustain the mood and not disrupt the smooth procedures of the experiment. This seems to serve them best when given a lengthy canvas to inhabit, as on the third track which stretches out into 20:53 minutes of brittle tracery and stained-glass perfections, and the musical evolutions are gradual, tentative, hard-won.

It’s worth examining the circular artworks on this release as there is some overlap with the music, particularly from Scott’s point of view – he specifically wanted to explore similar concerns as his music when he began making abstract art, and expresses an interest in “perceptual phenomena, feedback systems, interference patterns” and other intangibles. I feel this corresponds with the interests of Samuel Rodgers also, with his interest in space and “haptic relations”, and between the two of them these musicians might well be on the periphery of making an exciting discovery in sound. I mention this as Oxygen Room doesn’t fit neatly into the schema of music already laid out in the fields of EAI, minimal improvisation or Wandelweiser-styled compositions, and instead the musicians seem to be following their own counsel. Very good! From 16th June 2021.