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'Introducing: Rothko' Illustrates the Immersive and Seeping Power of Ambient Music


Introducing Rothko
Rothko

Rothko’s latest album, the aptly titled Introducing: Rothko (2024), brings together vast and dynamic ambient sounds to create haunting and provoking compositions. Mark Beazley, the musician, and mastering engineer behind Rothko, imbues his own emotion into his music, creating ambient sounds that can easily enhance any given scene.


Ambient music is notably atmospheric and subliminal and often exists in a moment without a listener recognizing it. 


“It seeps into you without you realizing it, and becomes part of a whole,” Mark said in an interview with APM.


Released on Lo Editions under the guidance of Jon Tyre, Introducing: Rothko exemplifies how ambient sounds can stir, inspire, and blend into a myriad of scenarios. Most of all, the album aims to connect with listeners through minimal and melodic sounds.


 

Preview the tracks from Introducing: Rothko.


 

“I just try and create music that has a resonance in me, and I think if there’s someone out there who it resonates with, that’s amazing,” Mark said.


Rothko’s music often veers towards the more dramatic and melancholic side of sound, though Mark hopes that Introducing: Rothko explores his deeper musical tendencies without getting too intense.


“A lot of it is introspective, but I’d like to think it’s not dark,” he said of the album. “A lot of it, I feel, is very hopeful music.”


Rothko’s sound is tied to an emotional process and a goal of resonance with not only himself but the listeners, too.


“It has to make me feel something before I can let it go,” Mark said. 

For a product so refined and intricate, Mark’s process for composing his pieces is remarkably stripped down. Mark said.


"All of the original music is done from the bass guitar,” Mark said. “Everything starts there. I sit for hours trying to make patterns."


No unusual tunings, just four strings; Rothko translates his bass with some reverb, EQ, and subtle distortion effects to create the sound that moves him.


From there, Mark uses the bass structure as a base, and adds in keyboards, wind instruments, acoustics, and more to bring different flavors and textures to a sound. Mark pulls from the musicians around him to inform his work ethic and process.


“I think collaborating with other artists has not influenced my music but influenced the way I make the music and my processes,” he said.


By asking questions and observing how other musicians create their art, Mark has been inspired and pushed to do more by his creative counterparts. Rothko’s recordings and live shows have featured collaborations with artists like Roger Eno, Rocketnumbernine, Band of Holy Joy and Susumu Yokota, and more.


“It has to create something in my own atmosphere in me before I can say, ‘yeah, I’m happy with that,’” Mark said.


Even when Rothko performs, it’s just the bass that accompanies him.  

“It’s always been like that,” he said. “No overdubs or loops, just me playing.” 


The same process applied to the making of Introducing Rothko, which consists of sixteen original tracks and companion instrumentals. The new release, which is available for licensing with APM, was constructed out of sounds from Rothko’s Bury My Heart in the Mountains (2023) at the suggestion of Jon Tye from Lo Editions. With Tye, Mark deconstructed Bury My Heart and reconstructed it, completely transforming his previous work and molding it into an entirely different album.


“Even I struggle to recognize a lot of it from the original ideas,” Mark said.


That being said, several elements of Bury My Heart shine through in Introducing: Rothko, specifically the celeste and other themes. There’s a nice flow between the albums, with recurring motifs linking the songs on both albums to each other with themes popping back up in different guises.


“It’s like a jig saw puzzle where you take the pieces out and put them back in again,” Mark said.


This unique creative process is emblematic of the evolving nature of the musical form. Introducing: Rothko illustrates the power of sound to be manipulated and transformed to fit the needs and emotions of the creator and the listener.

 

“I don’t think there’s any such thing as a definitive mix,” Mark said. “Things are always open to interpretation.”


When an artist can revisit a release and deconstruct it, as Rothko has done with Bury My Heart, the sounds can be turned into an even more powerful and compelling piece of work. 

Mark has been working with Jon Tye of Lo Recordings in London since 1999 when Tye released Rothko’s first album. Tye got Mark into sync and library albums, and his creative guidance has often pointed Mark in the right direction for how he can push and evolve his sound.


Creatively, Mark’s work as a mastering engineer constantly exposes him to all different types of music, from rock and classical to pure noise. “Everything seeps in,” he said.  

“I may not initially think, ‘oh, I’m gonna make something like that,’ but influences come from everywhere, and most of the time we don’t know where they come from, they just kind of appear in some guise or other.”


This process of absorption and subconscious musical influence runs parallel to one of the strongest aspects of a great ambient sync album; Rothko’s music powerfully swells beneath the surface, not necessarily drawing attention away but making you feel and think without even noticing it.


Just like his influences on his musical process, creating sync music has pushed Mark to create music that can be used anywhere. Regarding Introducing Rothko, the very nature of sync leads Mark to believe it may be impossible to know where exactly the sounds might end up.


“I’ve seen my music crop up in the most unbelievable places,” he said, adding his music cropped up in a television program about gardening and an anti-smoking campaign ad for asthma.


It’s always intriguing to him when Rothko’s music shows up somewhere Mark would have never expected.


“If it crops up somewhere expected, that’s even better,” Mark said. “When you see it out of context and it works, it’s a real surprise.”


He credits this partnering to the producers who have a vision with a piece, linking seemingly disparate pieces of music with scenes in ways that bring out the best of both mediums.


“I think it also has an impact on the listener because they’re not expecting it,” Mark added. “Maybe there’s a big dramatic scene and it’s gonna be all guitars, drums, and then an ambient bed comes in, which gives it a different kind of tension.”


With this in mind, Mark can see Rothko’s music anywhere and hopes only that the music touches its listeners wherever it ends up.

 

“Whatever we do affects somebody somewhere, anything that we do. And with the music… all I can say is it’s the only way I know,” Mark said.


Listen now to Introducing: Rothko, the composer’s first complete album up for licensing with APM.


Introducing Rothko

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