Wednesday, 10 September 2014

live loop by jen steiner

I listened to Song Of Stone by Jen Steiner. Her voice comes in like the tide. And every time it does, it climbs higher up the shore, saturating everything. And when it goes out there is silence and calm. In the silences I can hear the shape of her home. The song is so bare. Just a voice. The bones of a song. And it moves so slowly outward like ever increasing circles. They do not touch but they are connected. They are from the same place.

I listened to the whole album, 'LIVE LOOP', which Jen released on the 9th of September 2014 to coincide with the harvest full moon. The album is six songs and they are each about six minutes long. I felt like each one was a reflection on something, using a very small collection of words and tones. They are hugely spacious. The silences between verses are vast. The singing is strong but tentative. This coupled with the use of live loops (hence the title) gives each song a circular feeling. They do not so much seem to move forward as they do outward from a central point, which is Jen. 

To me the album feels reflective, meditative. It is Zen as fuck. And I don't mean in that flimsy new age sense. I mean like it feels properly Wabi-Sabi. Jen is making delicate, breakable recordings of life as she witnesses it and that is brave. There is no sense of bravado. It feels like impermanence and the knowledge and acceptance that all things will fall to dust is at the heart of her creative process. It's like she knows how vulnerable an individual person is but she does not run and hide. Then again, maybe I've got it all wrong.

I really think this is a great piece of art. In terms of the sound, it reminds me a little of early Jana Hunter recordings. Back in the 1980s, people started realising, or maybe deciding, that things could be 'punk' without necessarily sounding like it. It was an attitude, not a genre. I would say that 'punk' as an attitude can sometimes be missed as well if it is not outwardly aggressive enough. For whatever it's worth, I think 'LIVE LOOP' is a punk record.

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