"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sweet concord

Lately all roads lead to, er, Roden. In just a few months as many as three essential Steve Roden releases have surfaced. The solo Proximities (a retroactive staple of our 2011 Festive 50 + 50) (Line) & collaborations with Machinefabriek (Lichtung, Eat Sleep Repeat) & Steve Peters (Not A Leaf Remains As It Was, 12k) are each highly considered yet captivatingly fluid - & while quite different (Proximities spangling, Lichtung crunching, Leaf quavering) all exhibit an affecting contemplative beauty. 

Oh, & in case this sudden burst of fecundity isn't enough for you there's a Champion Version 10" film soundtrack along shortly (or already gone, perhaps, since it's some ultra-limited lathe-cut thing...).  

Also, among a global itinerary Roden is part of the ICA's Soundworks starting next month.  

Blurbs: "Proximities was recorded in 2010 during my time as the artist-in-residence at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. I began by recording a performance of a series of tones played on an old battery powered Paia Oz, that were determined by the letters A-G as found in a text by minimalist sculptor Donald Judd. I recorded the tone sequence several times during sunrise, amidst 50 of Judd’s stainless steel sculptures in an old army barracks that has been converted into a museum. The performances were recorded with an H4 digital recorder, my iPhone and also a cheap Sony micro-cassette recorder.
During several of the performances these small devices were emitting the sounds of previous performances from their tiny speakers. At times I also hummed. All of the processing in the recordings was generated by the extremely resonant physical space. The occasional popping sound, which can be heard at the end, are the sounds of Judd’s sculpture expanding while the sunrise changed the temperature within the space."

"‘Lichtung’ is a collaborative project centered around an audio-visual installation. Sound artists Steve Roden and Rutger Zuydervelt (a.k.a. Machinefabriek) composed the audio, while the video element was provided by the German visual artist Sabine Bürger.The installations exhibition was part of a series organized by Galerie Vayhinger revolving around the German concept of ‘heimat’ - the area in which someone was born or had their early formative experiences. Considering the artists’ far-flung locations it was decided that the gallery’s locale should provide them with a ‘temporary heimat’. The Mindelsee lake situated just a few hundred yards away from the gallery became the natural focus of the installation. During their stay, Sabine and Rutger recorded the video and audio footage that became the foundation which Steve Roden responded to with material inspired by his surroundings in the US. It resulted in an immersive four-channel audio-visual presentation, in a gallery space also showing additional visual works by each of the artists, and the floor covered with dried leaves."
"In 1995 Steve Peters and Steve Roden toured as a trio with singer Anna Homler; sometimes they would vocalize behind her, and they liked the way their voices blended together. They then spent about 15 years saying that “someday” they should record a voice-based project together. Aside from the physical distance between them, the problem was always: What would we sing? Neither wanted to write or sing lyrics.

Inspiration came in the form of a book of Japanese jisei – poems allegedly written by monks on their death bed – printed in both English translation and Romanized Japanese. Phonetically pronouncing the Japanese reminded Peters of the technique Roden has used of systematically chopping up the syllables in English texts to transform them into sound poems. Since neither of them speaks Japanese, it seemed like a good place to begin.

The two of them applied for a residency at Jack Straw, a non-profit recording facility in Seattle that gives grants of studio time. They had no exact plans other than they intended to avoid electronic instruments, or directly referencing the poems’ literal meaning, or imitating any Japanese musical idioms or “Zen” stereotypes. Culling some of the poems that made references to sound and noting them on 3x5 cards, Peters and Roden sorted the cards into four groups according to the seasons of the year that the poems represented, divided the cards between them, and taped them to their music stands. They then sang random fragments from the various cards - a word here, a line there, maybe backwards, maybe the English translation. They made no effort to keep the poems intact or retain any of their meaning, instead treating the material simply as phonemes to put in their mouths.
All of the music was improvised in the studio, built up one track at a time. They worked intuitively, with no structural guidelines beyond using the texts."

More at TouchRadio (the deeply absorbing 9-Sided Room) & UbuWeb; also a Spotify playlist. 

steve roden - proximities (album preview)

steve peters + steve roden - not a leaf remains as it was (album preview)

Steve Peters + Steve Roden - Fade Away Within

Steve Roden & Machinefabriek - Lichtung (album preview)

Leaves - Steve Roden/Machinefabriek

Drawings from Roden's of frozen music and liquid architecture series. Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.


Talcum X said...

I love music that paints a visual picture in the listener's mind and this stuff does just that.


sroden said...

wow... thanks for the love! if you are in the los angeles area between late june and mid september, i have a sound/video installation at LACE (los angeles contemporary exhibitions)... :-)

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