I am always surprised by the deeply affecting nature of Steve Roden’s work. There’s a depth of clarity in his creations that always sneak up on me, like uncorking a suppressed memory or hidden trauma. Part of that comes in the minute details that give such life to his work; it’s never music to fade into the background, but in its stillness and quietude a focused strength emerges. I often find myself listening intently, focusing in on the minutiae as if it held all the answers to the world. It’s truly something.
With that, I am thrilled that Room40 is taking on an ambitious program to remaster and reissue many of Roden’s archival work so that they are available to anyone with the patience to inspect and savor.
Here’s Room40 boss Lawrence English on the project:
My best guess is that I first heard of Steve Roden’s work in the early 2000s. I feel confident that his music and his gallery-based work landed on my radar almost simultaneously.
By this point, Steve had (in essence) resolved a genre of work called lowercase. This field of reductive sound sought to focus the ear on small events, tiny acoustics, and minute textures that at times hover at the threshold of perception. The work seemed entirely sensitive to the moment in which I discovered them, a new century had arrived and this music echoed similar movements of minimal sonics that were unfolding in Tokyo and London. Roden’s lowercase, though, was less about diminutive gesture and improvisation, and more about allowing sound to lead, to invite us to lean in and seek the verticality of the music that lies beneath the surface.
Steve once said the sound, “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… it’s the opposite of capital letters—loud things which draw attention to themselves.”
Since discovering his work, which spans a divergent range of interests, methods, and media, I have found it to be a wellspring of fascination and inspiration. Steve’s capacities to lace together his obsession with archives, collections, and other assembled ephemera with his interest in sound, is nothing short of magical.
It’s with a great sense of pleasure and pride then that we announce an extensive re-issue project with Steve. Over the next couple of years, Room40 will be working with him to produce a series of remastered archival pieces (many of which were made available in limited numbers by his inbetween noise imprint). These works will sit alongside new works such as Oionos and offer a dialogue across Steve’s expansive output.
If you don’t know Steve’s work yet, I invite you to share in my deep respect and admiration for one of the most profound, and at times, whisper quiet voices of a generation.
The first offering, Stars of Ice, one of Roden’s most important works, is available for pre-order now.