The title of Franz Rosati‘s latest work, Ruins, is both literal and metaphorical. The source material is “field recordings, rehearsals, scraps and drafts” ~ sonic ruins, crumbled yet preserved. The album itself is meant to represent ruins in their architectural and emotional senses.
The word carries a strange appeal. While the connotation seems negative, in context it seems alluring: “Would you like to take a look at the old ruins?” And yet, there is little glory to be found poking through the ruins of a battle, a fire or a life. These split interpretations come to bear on these seven untitled tracks, which can seem as brittle as corroded iron, as insubstantial as dust, or as enduring as the glass on which they are etched.
An upfront bass pulse provides Ruins with an intimation of life. This pulse is initiated in the second track and reappears later in the set. The opening track leads up to this point via the accumulation of static tones, perhaps the leftover detritus from former recordings: half-wiped data drives, inscrutable cassettes. But as soon as the pulse hits, one realizes that danger is present as well. In metaphorical terms, some truths should remain unearthed, some secrets should never be spoken, some memories should not be revisited. Rosati’s harsher tones expose them to the light.
The first melodies appear in Track Three, ruptured by distortion. Even the sweetest of memories are subject to dissolution. Once upon a time, this was the way of all recorded music, their fate to degrade. Only recently have we found ways to recover and reconstruct. Could the same be true one day of memories? Might scientists discover a way to extract, polish and replace the contents of the mind? Such is the realm of science fiction, but neural implants may make such preservation a possibility. The bells of Track Four seem an elegy to an elegy, filtered through the abrading sands of time.
By using old material to create something new, Rosati has ironically produced a tribute to the old. Some things endure – not most, but a recognizable remnant. As such, they remain ruins, but are no longer ruined, a fine distinction that lies at the heart of this elegantly mangled recording. (Richard Allen)