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    Album Review: Don Rosler, “Rosler’s Recording Booth”

    One and Half out of Two HeadphonesAlbum: Rosler’s Recording Booth

    Artist: Don Rosler and Various Artsits

    Year: 2011

     

    In the world of indie rock, the concept album has become somewhat of a rarity.  As though to challenge this assumption, Don Rosler has released a true concept album- a collection of songs performed by various artists, all centered around the idea of the old-timey recording booth, a pre-internet technology that allowed regular people to record short messages onto a vinyl album. Rosler’s Recording Booth is ambitious and truly unique attempt to capture an almost lost art form.

    Rosler explained his concept in a post to the website Kickstarter explaining,

    Many years ago, I became transfixed upon hearing a bunch of recordio & voice-o-graph records. Recorded by technologically-unsavvy strangers (servicemen, fiancees, wives, kids, separated lovers, friends, even my Grandpa Abe and two older brothers), in arcades, on piers, at the top of the Empire State Building, talking or singing and trying to connect to their loved ones. There was something in the timelessness of all the sad, joyful, talking, singing, stoic, emotional, and howling missives, from recordios to present day voice mails that inspired me to write..well……sad, joyful, talking, singing, stoic, emotional, howling songs! With characters that came into my head in and outside of these booths. 

    With this concept in mind, Rosler brought in a variety of musicians, both new and more established and created an album that is as unique as it is uneven.

    The album has the overall feel of a modern broadway musical, some songs heart-felt, others more kitschy. Highlights come from the artists Spottiswoode, with tracks like “Where Do I come in?” and actor Jeremy Sisto in his recorded music debut on “Halfway Honest Living.”

    Mixed in with the music are amazing tracks of found recordings, from actual recording booths and even answering machines.  These snippets of real life ground the album, keeping it from becoming too far-fetched or sentimental and reminding the listener that his concept is based on a true phenomena.

    Although the album achieves mixed success, there is no question that Rosler’s Recording Booth is a unique vision unlike anything else I’ve heard this year.  For fans of musicals and straightforward pop songs, this album is definitely one to add to the collection.

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