Derek Rogers has only been picking up steam these past few years, popping up on various labels of equally fascinating labels (Bridgetown, Patient Sounds, J&C Tapes, Umor Rex, et al.) with a bold sprawl of glitching, beatific ambient music. The latest chapter in the Dallas resident’s forray comes with Depth/Detail of Processing on the charmingly prolific Kendra Steiner Editions. Serving up six tracks that speak to Rogers’ mastery of brutally soft, beautifully tragic drone music, the CD-r drifts through suite after suite of hypnotic and slightly jarring sounds. “Glitching Bits of Glass” is an organized exercise in thoughtfully serrated noise, sorting through a flurry of malfunctioning blips and various digital ephemera. Eventually, the heap of sound grows out of control and takes on a massive, amorphous tower of resonance. “Rebirth etc. etc.” pivots more into the textured, blissful warble perpetuated by Tim Hecker or Fennesz, but in more vaporous modes. A wavering sheet of processed noise both pummels and caresses with each pass, like walls of sheet metal being scrubbed and buffered, then contact mic’ed for your listening pleasure. “Image and Identity,” is pure tonal obsession, examining a line of feedback under a microscope to expose all of its virtues. “Matilda & Richmond,” dedicated to the late music journalist and experimental music enthusiast Evan Chronister, uses its ample, 25-minute duration to completely unfurl its sullen meditation. Moving through a series of texture studies and a sublimely melancholic piano melody, the track is a touching piece of aural eulogization. As Rogers explained in a message exchange just after the release of this disc, “‘Matilda & Richmond’ was written to be the centerpiece of the album, as it was performed as a work in progress literally two hours after Evan’s passing. The use of field recordings and traffic sounds were taken from my front porch [Rogers’ front door is “literally 5000 ft. from the intersection of Matilda and Richmond,” where Chronister’s accident occurred], and serve as a time-stamp of sorts, a literal sound field of electricity and the very active movement that took him away from us. Coming back up to slightly brighter territories, Rogers closes the disc with the Mille Plateaux-like glitches of “An Illusion, Albeit” and he distant ambiance of “Return, Initiate.” Copies of the CD-r are available from KSE’s site directly.
-- Bobby Power, Decoder Magazine
In over 50+ albums, Rogers has proven to be beyond labels (noise? drone? electro-acoustic? electronic composition?) and he rarely repeats himself. He begins with the blank slate of silence, and with an almost-infinite number of sounds and textures at his disposal, on this album he creates six diverse sound-paintings, rich in textures of all sorts, dipping into everything from contact-mic scrape to decaying piano, from feedback to low-level fuzzy cushioning. Each piece is meticulously crafted yet full of separate sections and constant surprise. You may well forget how many tracks are on the album and just cut free your moorings and travel along with Derek Rogers, as I have.
Derek Rogers the composer really shines on this album, the title of which refers to both what society and culture do to US in terms of programming and processing (listening to Rogers’ music is a good way to stand up to that!) and also to the depth and detail of the range of sounds found on this album….and speaking of sound, the mastering by Alan Jones is so three-dimensional and alive that you don’t listen to this album…..you are in the middle of it and it happens around you…and inside you. Also, Derek’s internal rhythms here (they really come out on headphones) keep the pieces moving in ways you don’t even notice, but feel.
Texas should be proud of Derek Rogers as he has brought his Lone Star-steeped brand of noise-drone-contemporary composition to the far corners of the underground music world, and it’s hard to think of anyone else who combines the quality and quantity of DR while not falling into a formula or becoming pretentious. He’s recorded for most of the small labels that matter in the noise/drone/free-improv world—-Patient Sounds, Bridgetown, Tape Drift, Jehu & Chinaman, No Kings, 905, Hooker Vision, Anathema Sound, Bathetic, Hermitage, Ghetto Naturalist Series, Scotch Tapes, Cloud Valley, Middle James Co., House of Alchemy, Deep Tapes, Dream Root, Kimberly Dawn, Hobo Cult, Greenup Industries, etc. When I travel, I often bring an old Walkman and a stack of DR cassettes along, and no matter what label or period the album is, it’s always fresh and always mind-blowing. Derek’s eclectic yet matter-of-fact, no hype, no-BS approach to his work keeps the focus always on the work, and like a Warhol or a Steve Lacy or a Woody Allen, he continues to work constantly, finding new problems to work out, new landscapes to create and explore, new artistic questions to grapple with.
But what matters most to you, the listener, is that Derek’s new album for KSE, DEPTH/DETAIL OF PROCESSING (KSE #292), is a collection of six exciting and surprising and blistering and shimmering electronic sound paintings from a contemporary master. It’s a stunning listen. It might well be the one DEREK ROGERS album I would choose among the stack sitting near my stereo to give to someone unfamiliar with his work….ANYONE would become a fan after this one!
Note: this album is dedicated to and inspired by the late Evan Chronister, long-time DFW underground music champion and friend and supporter of Derek (best known to me for his Static Encounters blog). This scene we are all part of survives and thrives because of people like Evan who give of their time and passion and talent, give and give and give, and never ask for anything in return but the joy in knowing they helped turn on others to something that’s great and that they are passionate about. The Dallas Observer ran a nice tribute to Evan, and you can read it here: blogs.dallasobserver.com/dc9/2014/10/evan_chronister_memorial.php
The track “Matilda & Richmond” deals directly with EC’s passing and uses field recordings from the period immediately following his death in order to ground the piece as close to EC’s experience as is possible. Surely, he would have appreciated keeping the circle unbroken….