ROOS has finally released Standards, Vol I. This four-track album, the first in a promised trilogy of song-cycles to be released via Twosyllable Records, inhabits a unique place in the landscape. We’ve been waiting for this release since “I Fail” was dropped to mark the first anniversary of the inauguration of the USA’s current president.
“I Fail” distinguished itself from the crowd of angry, competitive tunes that have been addressing the fever of the current political climate. Instead, it was a simple, rich choral track. Featuring the Occidental Community Choir, the motif of the piece was one of personal responsibility and reflection. ROOS moved beyond anger, and addressed a higher-purpose. Spirit was found, not beyond us, but within the individual; in the center of ourselves. Frankly, it’s a song so beautiful that tears were inevitable.
The product of an artist/producer who clearly focuses on simplicity, and the essence of music, rather than the commercial environment, Standards, Vol. I is a sequence that dares to be beautiful. The statements contained here play like an musical essay on Taoism. Nature, unimpeded by fashion, force, or man-made constructs, reveals an interdependence of all things. ROOS, somehow encourages a letting-go of things. Not through frustration or resignation, but through wisdom.
The first single we’d seen from this sequence was “In Praise of Idleness – Featuring Kelli Scarr”, and it was a track that underlined the naturalistic world-view. Scarr’s vocal track was like a freshwater stream, and the flow of consciousness led us to the final line “Maybe it would be better if we never tried to make it better.” It’s a line that resonates through this collection. There’s really nothing to do, but to remove our personal wants, and ego-driven impulses from process. In doing this ROOS has produced high art in pop music.
Elsewhere in this short sequence, ROOS gently extracts elements from a number of genres. Hip hop beats sit over old-school country progressions, soul flavors lift vocal passages, and brass instruments swell beneath choral moments. Some moments are processed through delicate auto-tune noodling – but this done lightly, to play, not to force anything into place. Nothing here is heavy-handed, there’s a sympathy for sound. ROOS has heard an open E and realized that nothing can be done to perfect nature. The organic approach to craft is refreshingly brave.
With other featured spots being offered by Brandon Lott, Eliza Callahan, and Sam Gendel, something should be said to the combined vision of artists who lend their energies to produce a cohesive whole. No ego attempts to outshine another. Everyone vibrates on the same clean frequency.
As with the content of the songs, there’s a subtlety to sequencing. Track one is one minute and seventeen seconds long. Track two is three minutes and twenty-nine seconds long. Track three is four minutes and thirteen seconds long. Track four is five minutes and fifty-four seconds long. So what? Well, the ear is guided out through the waters, and so the mind gets held, and suspended in these increasing depths. The process reveals the value of our own, inherently perfect, imperfect nature. Inaction, the future, and acceptance of the humanity within ourselves are subjects that are explored, and articulated here.
Standards, Vol. I is a collection that has unassuming confidence. The audience isn’t chased, ROOS quietly assembles the elements, and that’s enough. The art that’s delivered here is delivered to those who get it, the artist simply is. The work isn’t about assembling something pure, the work is about protecting what is pure. Simply put, this is album is stunning.
HURRY – LISTEN – ROOS