But When Does He Sleep?
But When Does He Sleep?
Contrary to whatever smart-alecky assumptions one might make from the title, Bus Stations is a completely serious affair. Steed has intertwined lush, minimal musical compositions with a selection of field recordings made at—you guessed it—bus stops around town. The resulting sonic assemblage is a soporific dreamscape best enjoyed while awake, lest you miss any of the painstakingly rendered and sometimes vexing sound manipulations.
“I always liked My Life in the Bush of Ghosts ,” a 1980 collaboration between Brian Eno and David Byrne that featured field recordings made by Appalachian folk musician and documentarian, Guy Carawan , father of Evan , “the concept of taking people talking and putting music under or over it,” says Steed. “But I had a different idea of the types of ‘found sounds’ I would prefer to hear on these things. I really wanted something kind of Southern, and something that nobody else had done before. I think having buses and bus stations being the sonic theme, I had a safe bet in that regard. ”
Musically, Bus Stations is a far cry from Steed’s usual local-flavored fare. “It’s a mix of Eno and Harold Budd influence but also of things like Satie , Debussey , and Ravel . And a bit of Bill Evans. I’ve loved that French impressionistic stuff since I was a teenager. I would rather hear it over most things, even now. And I really like Hector Qirko ’s latest project, UWP , that he did with Terry Hill . That sort of made me question why I don’t try something more out-there.”
Steed claims that many of his fans will probably hate the Bus Stations project, but that’s probably stretching the truth a bit. While the ambient direction certainly covers new territory, it shares some facets in common with the rest of the Steed oeuvre: consistent quality and emotional range.
Steed is wary about performing the material on Bus Stations live, though he has sent out feelers to a certain chain bookstore that features musicians in their coffee shop. “I don’t think I could find an audience that would be patient enough to hear this live. I’m not sure how many people will have the patience to hear this at home, either. The music isn’t very harsh. I can imagine people shopping to it. In fact, it’s OK to use this kind of thing as background music while one is cleaning the house or other such mundane activities that could use a soundtrack.
“And if that isn’t enough, I think we’re going to do Music for Laundromats next.”