Eliot Rose ’03 is stuck in an unfamiliar position. After over two years of musical experimentation with a set of Casio keyboards, some Star Wars walkie-talkies and a four-track recorder, he is now playing the waiting game. The release of his first album, Green Wave, is tentatively scheduled for April 30. Rose’s vocals combine with his unique instrumentals to form the nine tracks of the album, released on the new record label Translucence, started by Hrshikesh Hirway ’00.
“I’m sitting around and waiting for it to materialize,” Rose said, as he played a few the tracks off a demo CD. “I’ve heard it — it sounds good. I like the warmth of the tape sound, but the album sounds a bit cleaner.”
He calls his one-man band the Scientifics, crediting his anthropomorphic keyboards for the group’s plural name. “I invest these little Casio keyboards with a lot of human characteristics.”
Rose got his start as a musician during his freshman year at Yale. After borrowing a 4-track recorder from a friend, he pulled out an old Casio keyboard that he had bought in high school. “I didn’t realize my own capacity for making music. I bought my own four-track and started going.” His collection of Casios grew to seven, allowing him to transfer sounds between keyboards and juxtapose bass, songs and effects on different machines. “It became slowly apparent that I was making an album. It all coalesced at the end of this year.”
Hirway approached Rose about releasing the album and encouraged him to promote it, touring not just at Yale but around the Northeast as well.
For the past several months, Rose has been honing his concert skills and working on adapting several songs on the album into live material. He played his first gig outside of the New Haven area this spring break, at a show in Boston. Rose admits that he finds performing live a nerve-wracking experience. “I’m not a very good musician technically. It’s really hard. I feel like I’m always a step behind.” He plans to coordinate a number of shows to coincide with the release date of the album.
Considering the number of instruments he could have chosen, one might ask: why the Casio keyboard?
“Default, I just started collecting them. They are really good instruments. There is an element of randomness. You can fool around endlessly and never know what you are going to get,” Rose said. Two old Casio ads sit among the posters that plaster the walls of his off-campus apartment, displaying his unusual dedication to the brand.
Rose gives his keyboards a lot of credit in the creative process. “Basically, I lot of what I do is playing with a tone, kicking it from keyboard to keyboard until something results that sounds so cool that it becomes the basis for a song,” he said. The walkie-talkies add an extra element of feedback to the music and a new minidisk player allows him to record and store more samples than the keyboards can hold alone.
Green Wave includes contributions from a number of other Yale musicians. Dan Sobo ’03 digitally produced three tracks, “We Go Valhalla,” “Real New Waver” and “Super Block,” as well adding vocals and guitar to a number of songs. “I took a flight” features the vocals of Sam Grossman ’03 and Simon Beins ’03. “The Yale [music] scene is very supportive — You have access to a lot of people who are curious about music,” Rose said.
Rose has undertaken a number of experimental projects in the last couple of years. Recently, along with Sobo and Grossman, he created the soundtrack for Jane Yakowitz ’02 10-minute film Heat Seeker. Last summer, he received a Richter fellowship to go to Cairo and make field recordings. He now has over five hours of tape of “street noise, Bedouins in the desert drumming on fueling drums and singing songs.” None of these recordings found their way onto the first album, but Rose plans on working with them in the future.
Rose makes it clear that the Green Wave will not mark an end to his musical creativity. He occasionally alludes to a second album and to a number of new styles he has been exploring, including some simpler songs and some “loser, experimental stuff.” While Rose is not certain what his plans are for the next few years, they seem to be leaning toward his music. “It’s probably going to be something that takes. At least that is what if feels like now. I’ll return to Portland and see where it goes.”