Steve Rose’s sophomore outing, The Diminishing Day, can be split into two categories by motif. One half is sequencer-based, with cool and angular lines paired off floating melodies and glistening processed guitar; the other is made from long stretches of droning sound that border dangerously on stagnation at times. Clearly, I find the more melodic pieces to be the stronger tracks here. These are the first three tracks, and they’re quite good. “Somehow Different (Part I)” is a perfect mix of those diaphanous guitar chords, trilling sequencer runs and hushed backdrop electronics. It’s a calm, fluid track that eases you in and has a lot to show you. Rose boldly hammers in with piano at the outset of “Infinite Regress,” laying out and layering melodic segments that he then stretches out across time, letting them all fade downward. Here, the sequencer runs play perfectly off the drifty pads and flute-like songs. This is a beautifully pulled-together piece. “Those Who Remain” benefits from its geometric nature; Rose slowly peels sad notes off this block of sound and lets them float away. The base stays simple and perfectly repetitive, letting the listener focus on the feeling of the song that’s developing. Again Rose plays with time here, increasing the interval of the melody as the piece goes along. So while the essence of the thing remains the same, it possesses a sort of decaying dynamic. From here, however, The Diminishing Day begins to diminish for me. The title track takes almost three minutes to show any sort of shift, and overall feels like it’s too dependent on it own somewhat forced drama. Several minutes into “Guitar Abstraction #4,” I got restless; I wanted it to do something. And it wasn’t. The thematic gurgling sound behind “Tidal Pool” seemed to overstay its welcome; it could have been subtler. These last three pieces feel almost like Rose gave them more time than they needed, like the ideas were all there but they were pulled too far to sustain themselves. That being said, I could gladly listen to the first have of the disc over and over. (And I have.) Rose is a rapidly developing talent with a lot to say, and ambient fans should keep an eye on him. The Diminishing Day is definitely worth an exploratory listen.
Available at CD Baby.