Musician and sound/video installation artist Steve Bates presents a striking solo ambient/noise album of melodic smear, radiostatic blur, panoramic noise clouds and dissolving tones. Made primarily with the self-imposed limitation of a Casio SK-1, All The Things That Happen showcases the more deliberate, intensive, maximalist side of Bates’ wide-ranging sonic aesthetic and practice. An isolation record (like so many), it combines an ineffable melancholy with claustrophobic tension and simmering political rage. Constructed from layers of glistening distortion-drenched melody, pulsing and droning oscillation, bursts of blown-out chords, sweeps of static and sheets of crackling hiss, Bates has made a dynamic, ardent, iridescent noise album of impressive depth and underlying devastation.
“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.
Bates relocated to Treaty 6/Saskatoon in the fall of 2019, a return to the Canadian Prairies just before pandemic that also profoundly shaped the solitary, immersive, assiduous practice that yielded All The Things That Happen: his most purposive, powerful, purely ‘recorded’ work.