Steve Roden

Steve Roden Flower and Water, red flexidisc

Flower & Water

On “Flower & Water”, Steve Roden cooks up an experimental treat. Making music is a lot like baking bread, with each ingredient and every timbre coming together at just the right moment to form a tasty whole. Some of Roden’s textures have a soft, doughy sensation, while others leave just a little bit of grit behind. The crackles and the tiny snaps in the background are a part of the music, giving it a little salt.

Roden sculpts the music with his ever-present precision, fashioning the tones with his hands. Roden doesn’t wait until they are ready to rise up; it’s an active process, and only with constant concentration do the variety of tones produce fresh flavours. It’s a highly physical activity, but also a mental one, sapping and yet affirming. Most of the tracks are snippets that have somehow melted in the oven, slowing down in pitch and tempo and then never being able to recover. “Flower & Water” contains loose objects and cultivated tones which are then cut into new, cool-looking shapes and looped to infinity. It’s a deconstruction that paves the way for a new composition; a new construction. Taken from a recording of George Winston playing a blues piano composition called “Medley: Bread Baker’s Stomp”, Flower & Water has a distinctly bluesy feel; the darker piano-based sound of the blues that might now seem lost.

The chromatic ascent on “feeling, smelling, tasting” has that oh-so-tasty vibe, the authentic, raw soul of the blues sitting alongside the sound of gentle crackling. Piano phrases roll on and on and on, and they never seem to reach their destination… but that’s okay. The record creaks, crimping itself up in the groove of a tight, soulful blues. The piano reverses and becomes an intermittent frequency; a ripped signal from another era. Raking the tones together, Roden’s music is thoughtful and slow to burn. It’s incendiary music, minus the violence. It’s intelligent music that only hints at its origin, at the style’s raw roots. Instead, the music reveals its inner workings, the mechanical sound of the process. This can be heard through the clanking of tones, rumbling around like stones in a washing machine, and the music does, at times, come close to the sound of machinery – the sound of creation. Never is it cold or metallic. The process is a difficult one, but the experiments are perfect. No record needles were harmed during the baking n’ making.


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