Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


I Listen to the Wind Music in Vernacular Photographs from Dust to Digital Steve Roden Changing the Way one Looks at Sound

I am pleased to try conjuring up the first review of Steve Roden's music and photography project with Dust to Digital, "...I listen to the wind that obliterates my traces: music in vernacular photographs 1888-1955"

Sight and sound meet in perfect balance here. Roden discovers, acquires and appreciates audible ghosts. It matters little whether they are heard or seen, the beauty is in between. Objects of wonder float in the air, and in certain photographs you will literally see physical notes surround a band, amateur performers with non-existent audiences their only friends, elephant ear trumpets, harmony in half-filled glasses and an orchestra in the Ozarks. A real monkey-grinder of a book/CD. All collected by the artist and designed by another artist, John Hubbard.

The sounds included on the discs are pictures as well, home recordings and musical obscurities etched with stylus tools, spinning lathes, somehow lifted from fog now dispersed. It is hard to describe the antique photographs and sounds here, but I certainly can not quibble in any way, it is an astounding collection. The book/cd will literally do the impossible: Change the way you look at sound. That is something.

The project is not available until August, but I would put in an order early if they will let you. Suffice to say, this is an essential purchase for ANY musician, musical archive, institution or library, and likewise any photography collector or organization. 51 recordings on two CDs and 150 photographs.

Steven Roden has also been producing a beautiful blog.

Dust to Digital has also announced their ambitious upcoming projects, as well as some brief notes about previous releases reproduced below. Make sure to browse!

Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs 1880-1955 (DTD-20): Compiled and edited by acclaimed artist Steve Roden, this hardback book/2 CD set is slated for an August 2, 2011 release date. We will have more details available very soon. Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM (DTD-22): Compiled and edited by Jonathan Ward, of Excavated Shellac fame, this 4 CD box set showcases 100 recordings made between the 1920s and '60s, all of which are available on CD for the first time. A release date has not been set, but expect the compilation in stores by November. John Fahey "Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You" (DTD-21): A co-production with Revenant Records, this 5 CD box set features 115 tracks, most of which are available on CD for the very first time. We expect this set to be released in late September or early October. Never a Pal Like Mother (DTD-19): Check out what The L.A. Times and The New Yorker had to say about our latest offering. Rev. Johnny L. Jones "The Hurricane That Hit Atlanta" (DTD-17): Wire Magazine recently featured several unreleased tracks from Rev. Johnny L. Jones' massive reel-to-reel archive. The recordings, some of which date back to the 1960s, can be heard here. Ain't No Grave: The Life and Legacy of Brother Claude Ely (DTD-15): We produced a video featuring vintage Brother Claude Ely film footage that can be seen here. Goodbye, Babylon (DTD-01): Last month, we got to meet Paul Simon and had a lot of fun talking about old-time music and different reissues. On his latest record, Simon samples a sermon by Rev. J.M. Gates that appears on our first release, Goodbye, Babylon. Simon confirmed our suspicions that it was in fact legendary record producer Brian Eno who gave him a copy of the box set. Last year, Eno threw all the rules aside and declared our 2003 release his 2010 Record of the Year.

Disclaimer: Dust to Digital also published my book, so I am biased.



  1. hey jim,
    wow, thanks so much for the kind words. since the book isn't truly out yet, i never expected to see a response/review so soon, but man, coming from someone who seems have been obsessively gathering for even longer than i have (and with a wonderfully keen - and bent - eye!), i'm super grateful for the positive response.
    much appreciated,

  2. D to D sent one...and I was impressed beyond lucid words. I tried to cough up a review, it was difficult. GREAT job, it is what they are best at, and the source material you assembled with what must have been a life so far, is just great. Thank YOU.

  3. Wow. Thanks so much for the heads up. This looks incredible!