A record of purity.
Don Rooke, atypical guitar player, true artist, is the leader of Henrys, a band often described on this magazine.
A mostly instrumental ensemble, sometimes using the voice of MMOH as an instrument, they gave us strange records, merging in a peculiar way the distant worlds of melody and improvisation, pure experimentation and dissonance.
Don Rooke, the guitar player, suspended between Ry Cooder like research and Bill Frisell's desire to be always different, is the mind of the project.
This time, after a few records with the band, Rooke decided to make a solo album. A world music record, but backwards.
Recorded in Rooke's home studio in the basement, Atlas Travel is the travel diary of a true musician, of a very talented man at the quest of the pure essence of sound, as if, as a new John Fahey (there are some similarities with the great American guitar player), he decided to mould in his music sounds and colours from far away countries.
But Rooke's work is more than that, because his imagination and creativity work at full steam to create something real from an imaginary situation. Don imagines the sounds of far away places, adapts them to his compositions and doesn't follow the path of other people: he is never been in the places he imagines, and he uses the instruments according to his own logic, for instance adapting a chinese flute to a song located in Paraguay.
He follows his own path, as ever, but this time dispenses with improvisation and experiments a la Henrys and goes for melody, colour, athmosphere and the purity of his heart. Atlas Travel is an ethereal record, a distillation of sound, and the guitar of the leader is surrounded by a sparse instrumentation including violins, ukulele, pump organ, piano, guitars, drum, bass, trumpet, cello, nickelarpa (a sort of ancient Swedish violin). Understandably a record drawing its sounds from the pure fountain of Rooke's mind and a collection of folk inspired songs living through perfect performances and sounds.
More than 50 minutes with titles like Nuevo Laredo, desertic and lonesome, Palma de Mallorca, deep and evocative, Alexandria, carried on by organ and drums, Donegal Bay, sad and touching, Villa Huidobro, with a latin theme; then we go to Hongary, Czec Republic, Guadalupe, Siberia, France, Paraguay, until we arrive to the windy island, Mahaina, pouring its sounds on the green surface of the sea.
Listen to it in respectful silence, eyes shut, trying to imagine the landscapes created by Don Rooke with the magic of his sound.
-Paolo Carù , Buscadero, Milan, Italy.
Translation by Natale Arculeo