restocked! Artist Steve Roden combines found old pictures, recordings and text to create his new CD "… and I listen to the wind" that feels like something altogether different, though, more like a silent movie, a collection crafted from crumbs of the past. Tucked within the simple, minimally designed book's front and back covers is the music, which Roden organized into a two-volume mix of similarly excavated documents culled from flea market 78 rpm discs.
With no biographical information on the singers provided, each song arrives devoid of context: class, race, ethnicity vanish. One mysterious, anonymous piano and voice ballad, identified only as "societe anonyme," feels like a lost Kurt Weill miniature.
It is a somewhat intuitive gathering, culled from artist Steve Roden's collection of thousands of vernacular photographs related to music, sound, and listening. The subjects range from the PT Barnum-esque Professor McRea - 'Ontario's Musical Wonder' (pictured with his complex sculptural one man band contraption) - to anonymous African-American guitar players and images of early phonographs. The images range from professional portraits to ethereal, accidental, double exposures - and include a range of photographic print processes, such as tintypes, ambrotypes, cdvs, cabinet cards, real photo postcards, albumen prints, and turn-of-the-century snapshots.
The two CDs bring together a variety of recordings, including one-off amateur recordings, regular commercial releases, and early sound effects records. there is no narrative structure to the book, but the collision of literary quotes (Hamsun, Lagarkvist, Wordsworth, Nabakov, etc.). Recordings and images conspire towards a consistent mood that is anchored by the book's title, which binds such disparate things as an early recording of an American cowboy ballad, a poem by a Swedish Nobel laureate, a recording of crickets created artificially, and an image of an itinerant anonymous woman sitting in a field, playing a guitar. The book also contains an essay by Roden.'