Tuesday, August 09, 2016

VITAL WEEKLY reviews striations CD on japan label spekk

STEVE RODEN - STRIATIONS (CD by Spekk)

As I noticed in Vital Weekly 1037 I just didn't hear for quite some time from Steve Roden, but listening to six 
CDs of his music from his twenty-five year career surely was a great thing a few weeks ago. Here is a new release, 
if you ignore the fact that it has already been recorded in 2011. It was created for an exhibition called 'Time Again', 
at the Sculpture Center, Long Island City, New York and the booklet shows some collages, which may or may not 
be used in the exhibition. We learn from the brief liner notes that the sound installation was outside, and inside 
a silent film was presented. I gather that accounts for the use of the sound of a film projector every now and 
then in the composition. The music piece is called 'Distance Piece' and, besides the camera, also uses guitar, 
bowing a cymbal, tapping a cymbal, the sound of stones, a bit of voice, cars and birds, all of which are cut 
together in a very Roden-like methodology. Everything is cut down to (long) loops of sounds and because of 
the irregular intervals by which they return, make that it may sound superficially the same but there is not much 
logic in there. On top of that I think Roden also add a few live elements, such as the guitar, played with a mild 
reverse delay effect at times; with the sound of the camera popping up every now and then, it also adds a very
delicate filmic element to the music. Like playing a film but then without images; or rather one that generates 
it's own pictures, right in front of you. This is especially because of those elements that take some time before 
appearing again, like a bit of speech, a car passing or such like. The ground 'drone', if you will, is made of object
upon cymbal, imitating the sound of an open window in the wind, and the continuous presence of the guitar. 
The whole piece lasts forty-six minutes and that's not a minute too short or too long; it seems to me the right 
length for such a work. It is elegant in its use of sounds, a drone backdrop, the story-like approach the 
composition and it is a classic Steve Roden work. He invented lowercase music as a term, and 'Distance Piece' 
is a fine example of it. (FdW)

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