Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Idly typed Roden into the iTunes search box the other week, and was surprised to find that some items came up: for some reason I hadn't put the two together in my mind. (Maybe he'll start ping!ing soon :))
A coupleof full albums:
Airforms: a 56 minute drifting piece with layers of ringing tones, soft crackles and vinylish jumps, humming that drift in and around the soundspace. Designed for an installation, it is like the accompaniment for a satellite as it slides off into space, for Major Tom after the song ends, playing into the eternity of darkness between the stars. This is one of the recordings where Roden asks us to listen at a low volume level to underscore that these were works designed to accompany an environment, and that your current environment would do just fine (I have just listened again on a walk with my dog through some of our country roads); and that the lack of narrative structure is part of the aesthetic aims of the piece. Play it loud, soft; dip in, out - understated beauty. (This is out of print so good to see here).
With Kahn, Roden took up one of the Brombron residences at Extrapool to create a collaborative disk (shimmer/flicker/waver/quiver). A recycled review - This is an album of contrasts: the first track has a hissy drone, bubbling, washes over which high sines and soft echoes ply, gradually increasing density before dropping to modulating white noise and tones with deep sounds within. Then the second has an intense rising/falling ringing sweeping from ear to ear, percussive bass taps and morse signals & ringling in, but it is the tone which dominates before dropping out for some percussion in the last minute. Track three reminded me of Harold Budd's broody desert pieces, low rumbling, clicks, hollow bells, soft whispering dust extended over some time. Then followed by another more intrusive piece, hissing and resonant gongs, chopped, phased and echoed, bleeps and scapes in, burring. Next, very minimal white vent noise, pulsing, squeaky tones in, developing a beat, swirling. Then finally a soft burring ring, high tone -a forest at night - distant tones, static. A collaboration that explores new and interesting (intense) ground.
And the Mem1 compilation from a few blogs ago, and then some other bits and pieces:
Cosmic Debris Vol2 is part of a series of split disks between My Cat Is An Alien and whoever. Roden offers 2 tracks: E-bows and Rainbows pairs skittery swirling radio signals with e-bow drone tones that pulse and grow, with a vibrato that develops over time. The guitar is also plucked, and the slow sequence of notes is like a frozen melody. Thirteen minutes of evolving Roden. My dog is a yufo reveals another new side - a gentle, picked melodic guitar over a sample of 'It's working' in a scratchy distant voice. The voice disintegrates away to a new solo, combining strums and picking, with white noise hisses of a sample. The guitar simplifies and the sample returns. The track ends, then returns with hissy quiet tune which could be thumb piano or guitar.
Sleppet is a fairly expensive compilation of soundworks which is best described in Mrac Behrens album of the same name Sleppet originated from a sound art project in 2007, when six renowned artists — Natasha Barrett, Bjarne Kvinnsland, Steve Roden, Chris Watson, Jana Winderen and Marc Behrens — recorded sounds on a 10-day trip through the Norwegian Westlandet region and used the nature experience for a couple of sound installations and music pieces. 9 of the tracks are available individually, so I bought Three Landscapes, Pt. II (A Waterfall for Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson), a nine minute work. The natural origin is foregrounded with a distant buzzing (the waterfall?), clattering and scrapes, some quite watery. Into this an organ drone/tone intrudes, filling the middle section, then fading in the last minute leaving the nature samples. Some of the most upfront natural sounds in one of his works.
From what I can tell, Mika Sasaki creates short melodies using a mobile phone's 'musical' possibilities and Memories of Sasaki San contains some of these and remixes by a range of names. My Sea / Mice See is Roden's offering - a 3 minute gem. White noise cycles from ear to ear, chimes ring over it (the phone tones), a deep throb vibrates through, then halfway though his voice in chopped up phonemes singing and whispering (mice might be in there). A strange menacing air here.
These tracks see Roden stretching out, trying new developments and are fascinating addition to the oeuvre.