At first an instrumental trio consisting of three bass guitarists, and later an outlet for the solo work and collaborations of founding member Mark Beazley, the music of the London-based Rothko is often meditative, minimal, languid and sonically nebulous, a suitable musical analog for the eponymous abstract expressionist painter.
The group formed, as an outgrowth of Beazley's four-track home recordings, with the addition of Crawford Blair (whom he met through a magazine ad) and Jon Meade (with whom Beazley had played in the band Geiger Counter, and who was entirely new to the bass), in the spring of 1997. After several singles and EPs, they released their album debut, the blissfully ambient A Negative For Francis, on Lo Recordings in 1999. While remaining for the most part a bass guitar-exclusive project, often using electronic means to achieve a range of textures, they eventually began adding other subtle elements (horns, woodwinds, keyboards, and even vocals at one point on the hyperbolically-titled second full-length Forty Years to Find a Voice) to their brooding post-rock sound. The group released two more albums on Lo (including a collection of live recordings, Not Gone. Not Forgotten.), and a handful of others on smaller labels (including the well-received mini-album In The Pulse of an Artery), in a prolific two years before disbanding amicably in 2001 following a tour with Porcupine Tree. Beazley carried on using the Rothko name for work in collaboration with Japanese producer Susumu Yokota (first a 12" EP, Waters Edge, and later the full-length album Distant Sounds of Summer), D.C.-based sound artist Jim Adams a.k.a. Blk w/ Bear (2003's Wish For a World Without Hurt), and British poet/vocalist Caroline Ross (2005's A Place Between.) Beazley also collaborated extensively with Ross's band Delicate AWOL, who have become de facto unofficial members of the loose Rothko project, appearing on the post-breakup Rothko albums A Continual Search for Origins (2002) and Eleven Stages of Intervention (2007), which were more instrumentally inclusive than the original trio albums while still keeping a fundamentally bass-centric format. Under his own name (but with contributions from AWOL members), Beazley also provided music for the Discovery Channel docudrama The Flight That Fought Back, about United Airlines Flight 93, some of which later appeared on the three-song Rothko single A Personal Account of Conflict. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi