“Oxygen Room is a wonderfully moody, at points downright haunting/uneasy trip into primally slurred and ritual tipped improv. The four-track CD appears on Slovenia’s Inexhaustible Editions, and I must say it’s a most compelling and often eerier ride of an album – really taking the improv form down a fairly original and distinctive path.
The CD comes presented in a white six-panel digipak – this features on its cover and first inside flap two different green circles made up of different shapes, then the inside flaps feature photos of what was used to create the release. So a nicely minimal, yet arty bit of packaging.
The players here are Samuel Rodgers on piano and objects. And Richard Scott on viola, mandolin, ebows and objects. Rodgers is UK-based working as an improviser, sound engineer, performer and installation artist. He also co-runs the Consumer Waste label with Stephen Cornford. Rodgers has seemingly been sonically active since the early 2010’s, with just over ten releases to his name. Richard Scott is also from the UK, mores specifically Birmingham/Newcastle-upon-Tyne area, he’s an artists and musician, having only two releases to his name from the last few years. The pair certainly play well together, to give the album a distinctively primal and eerily atmospheric vibe.
The CD takes in four untitled tracks, and these each have runtimes between seven and twenty minutes. We open with the primitively tolling and starkly creepy first track, here we find an extremely sparse blend of grim vibe like tones, and taut-yet-repeatedly stabbing piano notion, with a backdrop of simmering string slice/grate. It feels akin to been ushed into some strange and cobweb weaved once grand and ornate room, as some slow-moving and strange ritual is taking place.
The second track is all about eerily dragged and slurred string tones that are pulled out into a chilling hum/uneven drone, which at points is almost harmonic. There are also some nice cluttering and junk rattling like subtones present on this track, and these nicely enhance the feeling of stark barrenness.
Track number three is the longest here at nearing the twenty-one-minute mark, and here we return to the stark and creepy ritual vibe of the first track. It’s built around slowly released string sear ‘n’ scape, clunking-yet-sparse vibe, ritual percussion darts, and gentle dulled and subtle piano note shifts. If the first track was watching the ritual, this is the creepy/deranged aftermath as shuddering figure gentle convulse in the dust and cobwebs, and candle gutter on damaged and strangely marked flesh… and the pair create some nice moments of sudden jarring terror, as in its later half we sudden darts of louder keys/string twang.
The final track has a decidedly stark and paired back creepy house/abandoned mental asylum vibe to it. We find a distant-yet-constantly sustained string buzz, and a skeletal collection of eerier-to- angularly jarring piano note darts. Latter we get moments of grimly and tiredly lulling vibe swim and murky-ill defined key shifts.
In finishing, I must say I was rather taken by Oxygen Room, both players have a wonderfully delicate and highly atmospheric touch to their playing, and as a whole, the album creates a wonderfully compelling vibe, which is both chilling and at points quite jarring. Let’s hope these two work together again!" - Roger Batty