Boomkat Product Review:
Grittily iridescent ambient billow from Canada’s Steve Bates, rendering maximalist panoramas from a mix of lo-fi Casio SK-1 sampled textures and organ recordings made in Chile.
‘All The Things That Happen’ is Bates’ sixth solo album since 2006, and first for Montreal’s Constellation. It richly resonates the label’s explorative, emotive aesthetics with an innovative, experimental approach done at the service of resoundingly sore arrangements where grand harmonic movements struggle against the self-imposed limitations of his equipment. The 9 pieces seethe with feeling, red-lining his structures to the bitrate limits of the SK-1, beloved by many for its integral bite and texture, pulping results that recall the absorbing ambient noise of Andrew Chalk as much as Emeralds’ free-jazzed kosmiche synth noise.
“"This was supposed to be an ambient record; quiet, minimal and sad. These tracks all started off that way but I kept reaching for more texture and noise. Somehow the noisier the record got, the less sad it was also. I was listening to, and loving, a lot of music by Andrew Chalk and I had finished a year-long run of listening to Eno’s Ambient 1 and 4. I prefer On Land to Music for Airports although I love both. On Land just has a darkness and uncertainty that appeals to me. Adding more noise also got me excited about ways this material could be played live even though it also felt like that could never happen again. In 2022, I opened for Godspeed You! Black Emperor in Saskatoon to give it a try and was pleasantly pleased to hear it all live and loud."
A fixture of Winnipeg's burgeoning anarcho-punk and social justice community in the 80s-90s, Bates played in hardcore and indie rock bands (XOXO, Bulletproof Nothing) while contemporaneously continuing to fiddle obsessively with the shortwave radio his father bought him as a child — sensibilities that continue to meld and inform his sound work to this day. Bates founded the Send + Receive Festival in 1998, a crucial development in putting Winnipeg on the map for avant music and experimental sound art, which he helmed for seven years. Moving to Tiohti:áke/Montréal in 2005 he took on the Sound Coordinator position at Hexagram (Concordia University), released solo and duo work on ORAL_records and two albums with his Black Seas Ensemble on The Dim Coast, while pursuing myriad other ongoing audio research, installation and collaborative projects. His exhibition and site-specific works have been presented throughout North America and Europe, Chile and Senegal.”