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CD Feature/ Steve Roden: "Transmissions"

img  Tobias

The Universe is dark and silent. For some, that’s a metaphor of “magnificent desolation” and Stanislav Lem had one of his book’s characters take on a test of courage by forcing him to free-float in space for two full days. For others, it must be a place of infinite peace. That’s the galaxy “Transmission” is taking you.

Steve Roden may be known to most as a visual artist who has made it to the Centre Pompidou and top-notch American museums, but his paintings and installations have always been closely related to sound. While others have gone down that road before, Roden must be one of the few to actually produce music that is worthwhile listening to at home, without the images being present. This album makes no exception, even though one would dearly love to take that wormhole back in time just to set foot into the fresno metropolitan museum, where the accompanying exhibtion made its debut. Technology and poetry come together, as John Glenn’s first transmission from space and Arthur Rimbaud’s colour-coded vowels” meet in a dark room with tin cans emitting light according to the Frenchman’s poem and noises derived from the American hero’s speech as well as various amateur astronomers’ recordings. It’s a solemn world Roden has built: Sometimes the receiver gently twitters and tweets, sending off fluffy harmonic clouds into orbit. Microscospically small particles light up and die down again. Some of the melodies are so feathery, that they condense into happily whirring snow flakes. And most of the time, these fragile and delicate tones, both kindly outlandish and strangely familiar, make for a tender firefly-symphony to be played at the birthday party of a little satellite.

“Transmissions” is a musical fairy-tale full of love and, of course, a happy-end. It’s also proof that music can indeed be a language (and that seeing, listening and feeling is all the same on another level). Most of all, however, it’s a great album that deserves to be listened to by more than this edition’s limited run of 1.000 copies will allow. The Universe may be dark and silent, but the cosmos of the arts has become just a little more human with this effort.

By tocafi

Homepage: Steve Roden
Homepage: Fresno Metropolitan Museum

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