En Red O > Electronic Songs


document of the en red o symosium of electronic music VIII, related to the theme of electronic song. i offered to the symposium a recorded work called o.t.r., but there was also a companion piece called s.w.o.t.r. which was an installation.

o.t.r. was originally composed for the 2000 en red o festival in spain. s.w.o.t.r. was presented as an installation for the 2002 ‘beyond noise’ conference at ucsb in santa barbara california. o.t.r. was also released as part of the leonardo music journal for 2003/2004. the installation consisted of a simple set-up of a cd player and two speakers on a table in front of a couch. the works were playing one after the other and looped quietly.

“a few years ago, my mother gave me a small stack of 45’s that were her favorites as a kid: chuck berry, the platters, etc. when i began listening to these, it was not only the music that i was attracted to, but to the surface scuffs from repeated listenings and years of wear and tear.

for o.t.r. & s.w.o.t.r. i used a recording of ‘over the rainbow’ by the dimensions as my only source material. what you are hearing are the processed sounds of the surface noise at the beginning and end of the record – along with some of the first and last notes.

i was inspired by the noise as a kind of physical history of the object. the sound of a vinyl record existing as a kind of performative or listening moment – i wanted my work to exist as a kind of after-listening – like a memory that has disintegrated into the fuzzy shadows of its original presence.

the aging process of a human and a piece of well played vinyl is not so different – one is covered with wrinkles and scars, the other with scratches and fingerprints. these ‘images’ begin to re-define the surface as a new surface or new persona – a new face built upon the old one – and a ‘song’ composed of disturbances and interruptions. somewhere beneath the noise the song still exists.

i like the idea that this quiet repetitive music is a kind of aesthetic mirror for all those nights my mother fell asleep listening to these records. the dark room humming with the minimalist rhythmic sound of a needle stuck in the last groove – endlessly circling the record label until morning… “

steve roden, august 2002

track: o.t.r.