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...i listen to the wind that obliterates my traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs, 1880-1955

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Music is as self-reflexive as any of the arts, even if its generally greater power to transport sometimes deceives us into thinking otherwise. Dust-to-Digital's marvelously titled I Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces compiles music, photographs and literary excerpts that reflect on or present music itself as subject matter, from the earliest days of the phonogra Music is as self-reflexive as any of the arts, even if its generally greater power to transport sometimes deceives us into thinking otherwise. Dust-to-Digital's marvelously titled I Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces compiles music, photographs and literary excerpts that reflect on or present music itself as subject matter, from the earliest days of the phonograph. Culled from artist Steve Roden's collection of thousands of vernacular photographs related to music, sound and listening, the many gems to be found in this book (and its accompanying two CDs) include accounts of the Barnum-esque Professor McRea ("Ontario's Musical Wonder" ) and anonymous African-American guitar players, and an amazing trove of photographs of early phonographs. Other images range from professional portraits to accidental double exposures, via photographic formats such as tintypes, ambrotypes, cdvs, cabinet cards, real photo postcards and albumen prints. The two CDs bring together a variety of recordings, including one-off amateur recordings, regular commercial releases and early sound effects records. An array of contemporaneous quotations on music and early music technology from writers such as Knut Hamsun, Vladimir Nabokov and Pär Lagerkvist, as well as an essay by Steve Roden, bind the volume's conception into a unique meditation on recorded music's earliest consciousness of itself.


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Music is as self-reflexive as any of the arts, even if its generally greater power to transport sometimes deceives us into thinking otherwise. Dust-to-Digital's marvelously titled I Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces compiles music, photographs and literary excerpts that reflect on or present music itself as subject matter, from the earliest days of the phonogra Music is as self-reflexive as any of the arts, even if its generally greater power to transport sometimes deceives us into thinking otherwise. Dust-to-Digital's marvelously titled I Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces compiles music, photographs and literary excerpts that reflect on or present music itself as subject matter, from the earliest days of the phonograph. Culled from artist Steve Roden's collection of thousands of vernacular photographs related to music, sound and listening, the many gems to be found in this book (and its accompanying two CDs) include accounts of the Barnum-esque Professor McRea ("Ontario's Musical Wonder" ) and anonymous African-American guitar players, and an amazing trove of photographs of early phonographs. Other images range from professional portraits to accidental double exposures, via photographic formats such as tintypes, ambrotypes, cdvs, cabinet cards, real photo postcards and albumen prints. The two CDs bring together a variety of recordings, including one-off amateur recordings, regular commercial releases and early sound effects records. An array of contemporaneous quotations on music and early music technology from writers such as Knut Hamsun, Vladimir Nabokov and Pär Lagerkvist, as well as an essay by Steve Roden, bind the volume's conception into a unique meditation on recorded music's earliest consciousness of itself.

30 review for ...i listen to the wind that obliterates my traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs, 1880-1955

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Here is a thing of beauty, it's a collection of old American music on 2 cds contained in a book of old photographs of Americans doing things with musical instruments into which our editor has sprinkled mysterious quotes from such writers as Nabokov, Hamsen, Wordsworth and Hauptmann, along with Par Lagerkvist who gave him the title : I listen to the wind that obliterates my traces the wind that resembles nothing understands nothing nor cares what it does but is so lovely to listen to. The soft wind sof Here is a thing of beauty, it's a collection of old American music on 2 cds contained in a book of old photographs of Americans doing things with musical instruments into which our editor has sprinkled mysterious quotes from such writers as Nabokov, Hamsen, Wordsworth and Hauptmann, along with Par Lagerkvist who gave him the title : I listen to the wind that obliterates my traces the wind that resembles nothing understands nothing nor cares what it does but is so lovely to listen to. The soft wind soft like oblivion This entire book is a collage, the cds are soundscapes, the theme is : who will still be listening to us when we are dead? who will still be reading the contours of our faces? The answer will be : not anyone you might have been expecting. I say soundscapes because the cds are a mystic, joyful panoply of jocund poor white and poor black folk and blues from the Golden Decade (1925 to 35) plus home recordings of similar sounds from anonymous sources, plus sound effects issued on 78s at this time - wind, walking on ice (was it thin?), a mocking bird, walking in thin underbrush, rainfall and thunder, Canadian geese (what a racket!), canary birds : several hundred; all these are interweaved with the songs, which include, for instance, the reverend Edward Clayborn, the Guitar Evangelist (there were a lot of those) - his song "Then We'll Need that True Religion" is as primitive as you get, as primitive as the wind or the canaries, for no Lonnie Johnson is he, a two-note one chord pulse with single string slide decorating the breaks between the verses ("Doctor's face looks sad, worst case I ever had") but played so delicately, with such precision; also we have the hermaphrodite voice of John Jacob Niles, Eva Parker singing "I seen my pretty papa standing on a hill and he looked like a ten thousand dollar bill", Bertha Idaho moaning about suicide by iodine, Chubby Parker cheering us back up with a song called “Bib-a Lollie-Boo”... The photos can be imagined – a lot of serious guys with guitars and fiddles; a lot of serious women with haircuts no longer seen in Nottingham with guitars and fiddles; then a parade of absolute lunatics with bizarre home-made items which I assume emitted some noie or another; and a lot of folks posing with their new engorged phonographs. People should do more soundscapes – you could, for instance, do a whole lot with a movie soundtrack album but – very surprisingly – no one bothers, except Trent Reznor’s brilliant production of the soundtrack to (of all things) “Natural Born Killers”. It may have been a terrible film, but this soundtrack is a thing of wonder, crushing fragments of dialogue, Islamic Sufi wailing, Patti Smith, Patsy Cline, Leonard Cohen, Duane Eddy and a whole lot more impossible bedfellows together under one weird blanket. Then some years before that David Toop produced a great cd called Ocean of Sound which had another crowd of unusual suspects blending and merging bearded seals into Holgar Czukay into the Beach Boys into Eric Satie into Sun Ra. That record was all about meditation and trance. But this book/cd/art assemblage is all about those people, so long ago now, 80, 90 years, all dead now, all ghosts, and how they glint and sparkle.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    "A book of coffins ; a book of openings to the sky." "A book of coffins ; a book of openings to the sky."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Francisco Becerra

    A book that appeals to all the senses, focusing them into sounds: forgotten music and soundscapes, pictures of a past that resonates vividly today, pieces of books that create music and expand in the mind... Steve Roden knows perfectly how to make us aware of the sounds that linger in the remote areas of space and time. The essay about the nature of collectors and collections is almost the positive side of an anti-buddhist stance: the bond between seemingly disparate things and the person who br A book that appeals to all the senses, focusing them into sounds: forgotten music and soundscapes, pictures of a past that resonates vividly today, pieces of books that create music and expand in the mind... Steve Roden knows perfectly how to make us aware of the sounds that linger in the remote areas of space and time. The essay about the nature of collectors and collections is almost the positive side of an anti-buddhist stance: the bond between seemingly disparate things and the person who brought them thogheter, and how it flows and expands and changes. In short, a beautiful piece of art!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Henry

    This might be the best book I've ever read… Well, it's not very word-intensive; more of a pamphlet, an essay perhaps. And that essay, to me, seems perfect. I'm am inveterate collector and this book is all about collecting…something. Hard to say what exactly. So the metaphor is one of collecting the wind, moth wings, sound, image, time. Well, really, feeling. The photographs are extraordinary and the quality of the scans and the printing are top-flight. The companion CDs are extremely well curated This might be the best book I've ever read… Well, it's not very word-intensive; more of a pamphlet, an essay perhaps. And that essay, to me, seems perfect. I'm am inveterate collector and this book is all about collecting…something. Hard to say what exactly. So the metaphor is one of collecting the wind, moth wings, sound, image, time. Well, really, feeling. The photographs are extraordinary and the quality of the scans and the printing are top-flight. The companion CDs are extremely well curated, composed I would say. This really spoke to me, especially at 4 AM. But I'm sure it would be as transporting at high noon. We all have memories and we all have senses (although some are less lucky than others, in one way or another.) Some of us are more nostalgic and others more plot-driven. I suggest that folks in both camps will find what they are looking for here. This is the Pina Bausch of books, says I.

  5. 4 out of 5

    jennifer

    jason 12/11

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica King

    This isn't a book, it's a multi-dimensional piece of art. This isn't a book, it's a multi-dimensional piece of art.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  8. 4 out of 5

    mark mendoza

  9. 5 out of 5

    Merc

  10. 4 out of 5

    lordouch

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amber Duntley

  13. 5 out of 5

    Greg

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  15. 4 out of 5

    gdg

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eola

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

  18. 5 out of 5

    Glen

  19. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jean Bosh

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Keller

  22. 4 out of 5

    Billy Duke

  23. 5 out of 5

    L.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Bryan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrewhouston

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lily

  27. 4 out of 5

    JD

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Wilson

  29. 4 out of 5

    A.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rick

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