Monday, October 12, 2009

2006 : 19 "Morning Tones" by M. Rösner


It's easier than ever to be a completist. The Internet makes it easy to track down a band's complete discography, and digital distribution hubs like the iTunes Music Store make it easy to cherry-pick far-flung tracks from B-sides, undesirable soundtracks, or weird compilations. But the completist bug never really bit me. There are lots of artists that I like, but no artist that I like with such intensity that I've felt compelled to track down everything they ever released.

I did, however, feel glimmers of that completist feeling in my relationship to a record label in the mid-Aughts, specifically Apestaartje, a Brooklyn-based electroacoustic label with an unweildy name (I'm still not sure how it's pronounced). Apestaartje's release history began in 1998, and by 2006 they were essentially my favorite label: I owned most (but not all) of their back catalog, and I would unquestioningly purchase any new record that they released.

M. Rösner's Morning Tones appears to be the label's final release (it came out in 2006 and nothing new has appeared since). Inasmuch as there can be a fitting way to close up shop, this album is it: it encapsulates everything that the label does well. Specifically: it arranges sounds that are clearly made by computers (sustained drones and busy chattering) next to sounds made by what I consider the most lovely of the acoustic instruments (acoustic guitar, piano, violin, and what may be an accordion). Specifically: it is minimalist, delicate, vaguely pastoral, a little bit sad. Even the title works as something of a small manifesto for the label, in the way that it uses the humble everyday beauty suggested by the adjective morning to humanize the slightly cerebral and abstract noun tones. I’m sad to see the label disappear, and sad to feel my nascent completist impulse come to an end, but every morning I wake to a playlist that contains most of the Apestaartje records, and I can confirm that they make a very satisfying set of morning tones indeed.

Jeremy Bushnell

Listen: M. Rösner >> "Morning Tones"

PS: As I wrote this post, I used time-lapse screen capturing software to record my writing process. It may entertain some of you to see the thing claw its way into sense:

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