I Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces


Description: 184 page hardback book with 2 CDs, 150 sepia photographs reproduced in full-color, the CDs feature 51 vintage recordings from 1925-1955.

from http://www.dust-digital.com:

Compiled by Steve Roden, … i listen to the wind that obliterates my traces brings together a collection of early photographs related to music, a group of 78rpm recordings, and short excerpts from various literary sources that are contemporary with the sound and images. It is a somewhat intuitive gathering, culled from artist Steve Roden’s collection of thousands of vernacular photographs related to music, sound, and listening.

The subjects range from the PT Barnum-esque Professor McRea – “Ontario’s Musical Wonder” (pictured with his complex sculptural one man band contraption) – to anonymous African-American guitar players and images of early phonographs. The images range from professional portraits to ethereal, accidental, double exposures – and include a range of photographic print processes, such as tintypes, ambrotypes, cdvs, cabinet cards, real photo postcards, albumen prints, and turn-of-the-century snapshots.

The two CDs display a variety of recordings, including one-off amateur recordings, regular commercial releases, and early sound effects records. there is no narrative structure to the book, but the collision of literary quotes (Hamsun, Lagarkvist, Wordsworth, Nabokov, etc.). Recordings and images conspire towards a consistent mood that is anchored by the book’s title, which binds such disparate things as an early recording of an American cowboy ballad, a poem by a Swedish Nobel laureate, a recording of crickets created artificially, and an image of an itinerant anonymous woman sitting in a field, playing a guitar. The book also contains an essay by Roden.

from http://www.mustrad.org.uk:

One or two tracks from the accompanying CDs have been reissued several times over the years, Kelly Harrell’s Rovin’ Gambler, Sam Jones’s Cripple Creek and Sourwood Mountain or Sylvester Weaver’s Damfino Stomp, for example.  But many tracks appear here for the first time.  Marc Williams’s version of the old Anglo-American ballad William and Mary is new to me, although it could be based on the earlier commercial recording that Sam McGee made of the song and which is available on a Document reissue (DOCD-8036).

It is also good to hear Alf Taylor’s quartet working their way through Brother Noah Built an Ark.  Maybe their version is not as strong as the one recorded a few years later by A A Gray & Seven Foot Dilly (reissued on Document DOCD-8002 as The Old Ark’s A’Moving, but it is good to hear anything that Taylor, a fiddle-player and one-time Governor of Tennessee, made.

Surprisingly, to me at any rate, is the fact that I am quite taken by the raw vitality and sincerity of gospel singer such as the Reverend Edward Clayborn, whose Then We’ll Need that True Religion seems to owe a debt to the work of Blind Willie McTell, and The Reverend Calbert and Sister Billie Holstein, a little-known couple who apparently did most of their preaching and singing on street corners.  Then there is Xango, an arrangement of an African chant made by the Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos, and sung by the black classical singer Roland Hayes.


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