Crop Circles

steve roden
3" CD in regular jewel box
Ameublement d'oiseaux

“crop circles was first presented during december 1996 as a sound installation as part of the exhibition “they came from beyond”, at the malibu art ranch. the piece was softly playing in an alcove in a small 1940’s bungalow along with a handmade silver listening cushion, facing a window. all of the sound were generated by sampling and looping a microphone interacting with a speaker.”

this was my supposed to be my first release on bernhard gunter’s label trente oiseaux, but he ended up releasing crop circles on a side label: ameublement d’oiseaux. no one else ever wanted to appear on this side label, so i believe that crop circles was its only release.

here’s a bit, from an interview with bernhard circa 2003 remarking about his initial responses to crop circles: “When I first heard the demo Steve Roden sent me of “Crop Circles”, I didn’t get into at all. I wrote to him and said “I’m sorry, it doesn’t work for me” and he said “OK, never mind..” And then one day I put it on and half fell asleep while it was on and realised what a great piece it was. I was relaxed enough to really let it talk to me. I wrote to him again and said “Hold the press, I like it, I’m releasing it, I love it!” (laughs) When you’re in the right mood, with your body relaxed and your attention focussed, it works well. If you give it a little time it’ll get you in that mood.”

  • reviews:
  • Maybe it’s due to Trente Oiseaux releasing policy, but for one reason or
    the other this CD is by Steve Roden, and not his alter ego band name In
    Between Noise. This piece was made as part of a sound installation “softly
    playing continuously in an alcove of a small 1940’s bungalow along with a
    handmade silver cushion, facing a window, for listening”. I get a bit soft
    inside… it sounds hippy like. I am listening it in a cold room, 3 floor
    high, with the heater on.
    The piece starts with crackling noise, like a hand held contactmicrophone.
    Slowly deep end drones enter, along with some other undefined sounds. Every
    once a high end tone comes in and goes out – but it’s very remotely mixed.
    Like bees buzzing in the corn field. In the second of this piece these
    buzzing sounds are more apperent. There is a distinctive feel to this CD –
    it’s a remote sound, but one that is always audible.
    This is much ‘ambient’ or ‘easy listening’ as much of the other Trente
    Oiseaux releases, even though Steve Roden captures the label sound very
    well. Since this is part of the ‘ameublement d’oiseaux’ series (the first
    in that series), we may assume there is more of this kind of ambience
    coming. The ambient music that hints directly at Erik Satie’s Furniture
    Music (in French Musique Ameublement): music that is not intended for
    active hearing, but more aura wallpaper. Music to do something while.
    Writing reviews for instance. In that respect it is a great CD!

    vital weekly 105

    frans de waard
  • Steve Roden is a True Artist: Those of you interested in music as an art form should get this record. Using very few source sounds he is able to make a very interesting album. I believe this was the music from an art installation, and you get that feeling listening to it, but it stands well alone. If you are a fan of Bernhard Gunter or Thomas Brinkman this is something to hear. If you are not, now is the time to get started.
  • Previously, Steve Roden has been an acknowledged “visual” artist. Although true (Roden does indeed have both credible history and a substantial body of work in the field), his endeavours in the fields of audio design and sound installations – sometimes produced under his “in be tween noise” moniker and other times under his own name – are gaining him a reputation as a prolific exponent in the world of conceptual listening also. Crop Circles, released on Bernhard Günter’s “ameublement d’oiseaux” imprint (a subdivision of his pioneering Trente Oiseaux label), was presented as a piece at the Malibu Art Ranch in California. A single track, it clocks in at roughly 42 mins. and is based around Roden’s (now familiar – but rarely predictable) microphone abuse tactics – the sleeve notes inform that the sound was generated by sampling and looping a mic interacting with a speaker. Do not, however, be lead to believe that this is any kind of audio barrage or feedback noise assault. Those familiar with Roden’s previous projects will be aware of his somewhat more delicate approach to sound production, and the crackles and thumps generated by his manipulations on this work (a very gentle experience indeed) are in keeping with most of his audio releases. The sound, which seems both repetitive and organic at the same time, is structured around subtle loops which appear to form out of the noises of the microphone coming into contact with solid surface. As the piece progresses, this creates a nice bed of sound over which Roden slowly introduces various other elements. More distinct clunks, soft scraping sounds, and some remote high pitched tones flutter in and out of the listener’s perspective, as thick (but never muddy) bass tones creep about the room, fading to the fore then the back again achieving a very relaxing effect. Utterly engrossing when listened to consciously, equally effective played at low volume as background element (especially with CD player set on “repeat”). One of the best I have heard from him yet.

    Kevin Doherty