Andrew Douglas Rothbard
(2009, Peaking Mandala)
RIYL = Kemialliset Ystavat, Kurt Weisman, The Kallikak Family, Prefuse 73
Exodusarabesque is an exercise in bewilderment. Much like the album’s title, the music Andrew Douglas Rothbard creates is the result of a surgery of different parts. And, similar to attempts at pronouncing Exodusarabesque, describing this music is an exercise in futility. Believe me, this being my 7th attempt at tossing words at the album, I am well aware of the failings of English (at least my grasp of it) in properly describing this mythical beast that Rothbard has created. However, don’t let my discouragement in trying to write about Exodusarabesque translate to discouragement in listening to it because what Rothbard has created here may reveal itself as the very best this year has to offer. Why else would I try over and over again to convey its strengths? I ‘m not going to make any overly specific claims here, but there is absolutely no doubt that I’ll be revisiting this album on Forest Gospel come December. That should be enough right? Leave you with an enigmatic claim without any semblance of an explanation about what you’re getting into. If it isn’t, don’t blame me for the description that follows…Exodusarabesque isn’t kind to those who try to describe it. But, here goes nothing: Exodusarabesque is a supernatural concoction of chaos gone right. In the simplest and most boring of terms, Exodusarabesque is an electronic freak folk collage. The closest relative to the sound Rothbard has created that I can think of is what Kemialliset Ystavat. But where Kemialliset often wanders off aimlessly, leaving listeners stranded in the middle of the woods, Rothbard maintains just enough structure to string you along. And don’t get me wrong, it’s great to get lost in the woods every once in awhile, but at the same time, it is infinitely better to have guide. There is no arguing with the fact that Andrew Douglas Rothbard work is experimental, but as with the very best of experimental music, Rothbard has just enough of a pop presence to make Exodusarabesque supremely palatable. What else? Oh yeah, the electronics. So, in addition to this incredible forest of organic textures, Rothbard has added an electronic edge that I have never heard coupled with free/freak folk. Exodusarabesque adds a glitch/hip hop element to these recordings that sounds like Prefuse 73 remixing Campfire Songs with Here Comes The Indian. You know what? Forget freak folk. Welcome freak electronica. I’m going to go ahead and quit right here. There is probably about a million other off kilter comparisons and descriptions I could throw at Exodusarabesque, but eventually this true chameleon of a record shakes them all off and stands alone, grazing on it all but somehow not becoming what it eats. As one last effort to convey my impressions of this album I will just say this. Recently, I have been compiling and organizing an obligatory end of decade list. While doing so I was surprised to find that I didn’t feel very comfortable putting anything on that list that I had listened to so far in 2009. It isn’t that I didn’t want to; it’s just that nothing stood out as strongly as records from the past nine years had. After listening to Exodusarabesque, Andrew Douglas Rothbard’s musical behemoth, that has now changed.
Andrew Douglas Rothbard on MySpace