speak no more about the leaves

steve roden
edition: 500

  1. airria (hanging garden)
  2. speak no more about the leaves
  3. airria (hanging garden) second version

The cd contains 3 pieces inspired by Arnold Shoenberg’s ‘The Book of the Hanging Gardens’ and in particular the poems by Stefan George that Shoenberg used as lyrics. Track one uses my voice reading/singing part of the text as the only sound material. Track two uses the vowel structure from the text as a score for striking five tones on a small chime and was originally used for an installation at the pomona college museum of art. Track three uses samples from the Shoenberg work as well as my voice singing the same text as track one. the wire magazine selected this release as one of the top 10 releases in the outer limits category for 2003.

  • reviews:
  • Steve Roden once sang. And in the early 2000s he occasionally dusted down
    his voice. It happened for Martin Archers “Angel High Wire” project and
    it happens again for Roden’s own “Speak No More About the Leaves”. The
    title is taken from a poem by Stefan George used as lyrics by Schönberg
    in his “Book of the Hanging Gardens”. In the two versions of “Airria
    (Hanging Garden” Roden’s frail, angelic voice sings in a murmur a string
    of senseless syllables — the poem has been cut down to syllables that have
    been placed in alphabetical order (both forward and backward to form a
    palindrome, hence the title “Airria”). Roden’s voice is accompanied by dark
    minimal electronics: a three-note bass motif, soft high-pitched sine waves,
    treated clicks and sonic dribbles of various kinds. All these elements taken
    together form a dark, disquieting aria that would have Gothic tendencies if
    it weren’t so resolutely a-typical. The two-note melody evokes a litany, a
    prayer. The closest comparison is found in the most ambient pieces by The
    Remote Viewers — it has that kind of mood and an uncanny resemblance to
    ‘ Louise Petts’ detached sensuality. The title track, sandwiched between
    the two versions of “Airria” (the second being darker and more song-like
    than the first) transmutes the vowels from the text into a pentatonic score
    for a small chime. The notes, treated, float in mid-air, filling the
    listening space like fog. In his works Roden often chisels an awkward kind
    of beauty. This album makes no exception and it may very well be easier to
    approach than his previous, all-electronic efforts. Highly recommended

    francois couture, all music guide
  • Steve Roden has been given shit by the soundart world for being “experimentally incorrect”. Perhaps this is because the concepts behind Roden’s work are never so “conceptual”‚ or self-important that they become the reason why the music is supposed to be interesting, good or enjoyable. Roden’s conceptual practice seems to be more of a private strategy for going about his creative work — for providing the compositional process with specific possibilities and limitiations — than it is a purposeful means for earning validation from the experimental art/music world.

    Take Speak No More About The Leaves…a sort of threeway
    meta-collaboration with composer Arnold Schoenberg and poet Stefan
    George in which Roden happens upon Schoenberg’s use of George’s versefor some lyrics to a piece of music titled “The book of the HangingGardens”, transplants a cutting from this and cultivates a whole new
    life from it in his own work. The life of this record, indeed, comes so much from Roden’s own mouth as he sings syllables taken from the original text and creates not so much a work of high fallutin’ conceptual art as he does a beautiful song that might leave us wondering if Mr. Roden hasn’t also been listening to Eyeless in Gaza somewhere along the way?

    If you like the title of the record and appreciate the poetic impulses at its origins you’re already on your way to liking the music. Roden’s voice is extremely intimate as it sits in the edge of the speakers (seeming as if it might be coming out of the phone you forgot to hang up), chanting into the room as shining slivers of sound effervesce, chime and fall around it. It’s a world you can’t quite place, probably because you haven’t been so small that you could ever fit inside the terrarium that contains it, yet you will intuit something comforting and familiar as you use this record as a sort of stethoscope for listening in on the processes of tiny lives taking root as old ones decay and all but disappear

    loren chasse, aquarious records
  • Hot on the heels, this time Steve Roden is inspired by Arnold Schonberg’s
    ‘The Book Of The Hanging Gardens’ – and to that extent even more the poems
    by Stefan George used by Schonberg. In three tracks Roden uses the text and sound in his own way. In the first one he recites or sings the text but
    syllable and the syllables placed in alphabetical order forwards and
    backwards. In the second piece the vowel structure makes up the score for
    striking five tones on a small chime. And then in the third piece the
    singing on the first track is combined with samples of the Schonberg work.
    This new work continues the recent Roden output which is more musical than
    before. Especially in ‘Airria (Hanging Garden)’, the first piece on the CD,
    there is a very musical thing going. Don’t expect things to be popmusic, as
    Roden has a very distinct minimalist approach to his music. Things move
    always at a very slow pace, but not as a bunch of layered sounds being
    nicely mixed, but rather as a nice musical flow. The closest Steve gets to
    his older work is in the second piece ‘Speak No More About The Leaves’ with
    it’s closely layered sounds of similar origins. But the line set out with
    his Sonoris release, earlier this year, the work of Steve Roden has gotten
    more and more musically and this one is no exception – a damm fine work.

    frans de waard, vital weekly
  • Schönberg’s The Book of the Hanging Gardens and the poetry of Stefan George (used by Schönberg for his work) are the inspiration for this surprising new release from Steve Roden. In “airria (hanging garden)” the verses are
    broken, syllable by syllable, and rearranged in alphabetical order from
    first to last. Roden not only “reads” the broken text, but sings it, his
    voice hesitant, trembling slightly, but unmistakably strained in song.
    Digital dust particles fall gently over the recordings, filters cause
    interferences, brief interruptions, disruptions in the sound. The voice
    seems distant in time, but close in space, a whisper in your ear, an
    incomprehensible dream-narrative. The air becomes still, and silence is all
    around, in spite of the sound. The second piece, “intended to repeat quietly
    in a room,” takes the same text but uses the vowels as a score for striking
    five tones on a small chime, the resonances repeat and break, they occupy
    spaces from left to right, they sing quietly, sadly to us as we sit
    surrounded by them. The third and final piece is something of a reprisal of
    the first, but this one is nocturnal, subterranean even, revealing the
    shadows of shadows, a deep, low-end drone steps evenly under Roden’s voice, still strained in its haunting song, a tranquil, if unsettling mood. And
    here, as I attempt to formulate my opinions, impressions of this work as a
    whole, even my words break down into syllables, those syllables break down
    further into letters, and those letters into indistinct lines on a page, in
    these moments when language fails me.

    richard di santo, incursion
  • I didn’t follow the suggestion written in the booklet and listened to this
    record by headphones; this way I could single out every little nuance and
    get any slight colour variation contained in Roden’s complex and involving
    sound world. Steve’s creations are counteractive to that boring and sterile
    academy often present in “composers” working in the sound installation area
    – and similar. On the other hand, Roden mirrors that innocent face of a
    studio alchemist whose new results can still be saluted with an ample smile.
    Vocal sources, clicking, whirling electronics and looping fragments turn out
    to be white-to-rose, never overwhelming or disenchanting, always looking for
    a positive and certainly hearworthy sonic rainbow.

    massimo ricci, touching extremes
  • As a basis for this new recording, multimedia Steve Roden was inspired by
    Arnold Shoenberg’s lyrical interpretation of the poems by Stefan George. His
    small singing voice, sounds like a child’s on the subtitled track “Airria
    (Hanging Garden)” as it is reprocessed making way for this 14 minute
    harrowingly sad lament. The icy surroundings romanticize these lilting and
    layered tonalities. Roden embodies a supernatural prophet through his use of
    appropriately immediate and empathic reference material. This is aural
    performance art. On the title track a reverberating chime pitches high
    frequencies that rotate and disappear. This piece was recently presented as
    part of an installation at Pomona College Museum of Art . The editing leaves
    short air pockets that are empty of recorded sound. What at times seems like
    a soundtrack for a deserted forest on Mars, Speak No More About The Leaves
    is a newly designed approach to how one might tune the sounds of the air
    around (or inside) us. By using the vowel structure from the original
    composition Roden has flexed sounds that are just this side of those audible
    by other creatures. The second version of “Airria (Hanging Garden)” is a bit
    creepier, recycling in slower motion, it was is started at the beginning of
    this cycle. The vocal drags chillingly like a ball and chains. Overall I
    feel a slow shuffle to the gallows. There is a speaking-in-tongues quality
    to the concave gibberish that keeps your ears awake.

    tj norris, igloo magazine