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- A Big Circle Drawn With Little Hands by Steve Roden
8/10 ReviewBot300 Staff review, 04 September 2012
We’ve got a new LP from Pasadena’s Steve Roden with six of his gentle, loosely improvised pieces. According to the press release, “His working process often uses a combination of idiosyncratic notations using colors or symbols, an association of self-imposed rules and openings for intuitive improvisations”, and the tracks on here have all been created using specific and unusual materials - coins, toys, wooden rattles, little bits of rock, etc.
Opener ‘sixteen hands waiting for rain.’ has patient loops of dinking percussive half-melodies for a spacious, feel-good piece that’s making me think of a more minimal, highbrow Sun Araw, while the the lengthy piece which follows it, ‘two hands submerged in water.’ (all the track titles have this lowercase format, start with a number of hands and end with a full stop, presumably to mirror the “lowercase” genre the press release claims Roden has coined for a music that “bears a certain sense of quiet and humility; it does not demand attention, it must be discovered. the work might imply one thing on the surface but contain other things beneath.”), is full of hazy, sleepy and slightly sinister drones accompanied by some sort of intermittent creaking, grating sound. Very relaxing, kind of like a midpoint between Deathprod and Machinefabriek. Finally on the first side we’ve got ‘sparks from one hand on fire.’ with chirping crickets and a slow bass throb over some distant gliding violin drones, static clicks and glimpses of field recordings.
Flip it and ‘two hands behind glass.’ has glassy high-pitched squeak-loops, ‘one hand pressing a pencil against a tree.’ is a crackling industrial rumblescape with distant-foghorn mid-end, and closer ‘forty hands in anticipation of a word.’ has barely-there breathy processed analogue flutters and sounds like a big scary monster having a nap. It’s often hard to place which of the weird objects is making which sound, but the delicate, measured way that they are constructed means it remains intriguing and relaxing throughout. Fans of weird ambient sound art will be sure to dig this.
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