Steve Roden
(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )

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Steve Roden (1964), also active as In Be Tween Noise, is a Los Angeles-based composer (as well as painter) of "possible landscapes", created by electronically and digitally processing the sound of objects, nature and spaces. They require "deep listening" to appreciate the subtlety of slight variations in the mostly silent wasteland.

In Be Tween Noise debuted with The Secret of Happiness (Starfish, 1991), the Indian-sounding droning music of So Delicate and Strangely Made (New Plastic, 1993), and one of the most creative works of the time, Humming Endlessly in the Hush (New Plastic, 1996). They all employ unusual and unlikely instruments, but focus on delivering real emotions: collage music had rarely been so romantic and lyrical. Communicating Vessels (on the latter) for bicycle wheel, field recordings and found sounds bridges the austere world of the avantgarde and the spiritual world of the hippies three decades after both had made their mark.

The numerous recordings under his own name include: Of Space Enclosed (Griffin, 1997), Crop Circles (Trente Oiseaux, 1998), The Radio (Sonoris, 1999), view (Jennjoy Gallery, 1999), and three collaborations with Id Battery's Brandon LaBelle: Unspoken /Kingdom of Shadows /Unseen (MSBR, 1998), The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm (Meme, 1999) and The Opening of the Field (Digital Narcis, 2000). Compared with the naive poetry of In Be Tween Noise, these are erudite and somewhat pretentious works in which research prevails on expression, the avantgarde wins over spirituality.

His seminal Four Possible Landscapes (Trente Oiseaux, 1999) was inspired by Bernhard Guenter. Schindler House (New Plastic Music, 2001) contains three installations created inside the house of an architect.

Other recordings were less successful: Forms of Paper (Line, 2001), Winter Couplet (New Plastic Music, 2001), the lovely and intimate Speak No More About The Leaves (Sirr, 2003), Le Chemin Du Paradis (Fario, 2002) with Francisco Lopez, Broken.distant.fragrant. (Rossbin, 2003) with Tu-m, Shimmer/flicker/waver/quiver (Korm plastics, 2003) with percussionist Jason Kahn.

Three Roots Carved To Look Like Stones (Sonoris, 2002) collects three compositions: one for toy wooden flute, one for aluminum wind chime and one for paper accordion.

Light Forms (Semishugure, 2003) used light bulbs as source material.

Resonant Cities (Trente Oiseaux, 2003) is a collage derived from field recordings in city environments around the world, but focusing on the meaningless detail rather than on the overall noise.

Airforms (Line, 2005) is a 56-minute track that uses air as the inspirational element and drones obtained from blowing into an organ pipe as the sonic source. The rest (which is really "the most") was done at the computer. The result is one of his most plainly ambient recordings. The dynamics of the piece reflect the idea not so much of air as of breathing: the music sounds like a static organism that is slowly breathing, either coming to life or dying. Occasionally, a tiny series of dissonant sounds creeps in, just long enough to hint at a surrounding environment or to some kind of time axis. At times the gentle lulling and the background creaking evoke the vision of a wrecked ship adrift in the ocean, and, in fact, the tone of the drones have an underwater (rather than "airy" quality). Certainly not a breakthrough recording. This is Roden at his most self-indulgent.

Transmissions - Voices Of Objects And Skies (In Between Noise, 2007) documents a sound installations inspired by astronomical sounds.

Dark Over Light Earth (In Between Noise, 2007) documents the soundtrack to a 2006 Mark Rothko exhibition composed by merging his own playing on harmonium and glockenspiel with violinist Jacob Danziger's long-distant improvisations.

The double-disc I Listen To The Wind That Obliterates My Traces (Dust-To-Digital, 2011) is an anthology of vintage music (and field recordings), similar in concept to the Climax Golden Twins' Victrola Favorites.

Lichtung (Eat Sleep Repeat, 2012) was a collaboration between Steve Roden and Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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