Mistakes. Tape hiss. Accidents. Layers. Residue. Skips. Internal feedback loops. Chance. All of these have a place in Bates’ work.
While sonically operating more in an electronic or even rock-mode, The Wrong Echo was crafted largely through long-distance collaborations and written, re-written, assembled and re-assembled in the studio using approaches developed in Jamaican dub music of the 1970’s.
“I grew up listening to punk and reggae music and wanted to incorporate these approaches in a more electro-acoustic style. I constructed basic frameworks of songs using primarily shortwave radio samples and sent them to friends to interpret or write for… In some cases I left their parts as I received them and the original structure was re-composed based around their contributions or removed completely.”
Bates’ collaborators include a cast of friends who come from different areas of sound art and music. Christof Migone, an internationally recognized sound and radio artist is credited with playing ‘gutted reel-to-reel and contact mics’. Singer/songwriter Christine Fellows contributes piano and keyboards, Jason Tait, drummer from The Weakerthans plays drums and circuit-bent electronics. Cellist Leanne Zacharias has played with the Houston Symphony and teaches at Brandon University. Double bassist, Peter Burton, contributes textural and melodic bass lines throughout the release. Visual artist, jake moore, offers vocals soaked in reverb.
“I wanted to work with friends who were coming from different places than noise or a sort of avant-rock place, where I’m coming from. I was looking for them to push me in new ways, to respond to surprises and I kind of wanted to offer the same to them”.
In reviewing Bates’ the dim coast, The Wire had this to say:
Canadian sound artist Steve Bates works with hi- and lo-tech instrumentation and equipment to produce a restrained, delicately abstract electronica. ”Everywhere Little Explosions” encapsulates his methodology: a two-note piano motif is looped and fed through distorting baby monitors and computer software until it becomes a sort of psych-fuzz mantra. Bates favours sounds that confound the ear by occupying the exact midpoint between the synthetic and the natural, such as the digitized pinprick guitar harmonics on “I’ve Had Enough”… On the short pieces, Bates displays great musicality and economy of expression. File under ‘gifted miniaturist’.
- Keith Moliné, The Wire
Bates’ current work explores the detail in surface and the minute. Melody is often present forming patterns of emergence and disappearance, often wrapped in layers of static. The songs range from shortwave-infused drone-fests to more pointillist electronics.
For listeners of Oren Ambarchi, Tim Hecker, BJ Nilsen, Emeralds, Flying Saucer Attack, kranky…
released June 1, 2010
Recording and mixing: Steve Bates
Artwork: jake moore Photography: Anke Burger
Design and production: Eric Mattson
Mastering: Harris Newman, Grey Market Mastering
CD made in Québec, LP made by Pirate Press