Her range of materials and techniques encompasses found sounds, field recordings, notation for acoustic instruments, manipulated extensions of amplified instruments and purely electronic textures. Her willingness to employ this wide range belies the fact that Olivia Block is an artist with a tight focus and clear voice. Whether working in installation, performance or composition for performers, she is not limited to exclusive designations of “sound artist”, “composer” or “performer”. In a sense, Block is a truly contemporary sonic artist for whom these designations are not identities, but roles inhabited in order to create work.Block’s compositions are clear and unhurried – often constructed from layers, dynamics and densities, where the music dwells at the edges of perception. They may range from lush-filled spaces to the edges of audibility, where found sounds or instrumental sonorities are only just clear enough to be identifiable. Furthermore, along with these “found” sounds, the microphone emerges as an instrument itself, present in the music. But this music doesn’t merely live within these margins. Its narrative is a journey taking you through these spaces.
Block’s music is experimental in the sense that the processes and results often frame environmental ambience. However, this is not a music that is of purely experimental concerns, where process takes precedence and results are merely the outcomes. The music is thoughtful and composed. It goes places. Its passage is one of framing perceptions and sensations, while making narrative from that framing. There is expression, quiet but deep emotion, and beauty in its sensations.
Block will be performing a live version of Aberration of Light. Originally conceived as an expanded cinema collaboration including filmless 35-millimeter projectors, Block will present a version of this piece in the darkened venue with 4 speakers surrounding the audience with sound. It is music that both envelops the listener with its motion and physicality and draws them in to its subtle textures and detail.
“as rigorously assembled, finely detailed and dramatically taut as any modern composition you might care to name, … evoking a dreamlike story without words.”– The New York Times
“Finely nuanced textures of environmental material and occasional surges of raw sonic power are blended with an elegant instrumental architecture… Compositional ordering and digital processing enter into an absorbing dialogue with the natural world.”– The Wire (UK)
Dallas based, Derek Rogers spent the first years of the decade in Los Angeles releasing music under his own name in labels like Hausu Mountain, Signal Dreams, and Obsolete Units, among others. He and Lee Noble work in tandem under the moniker: Circuit Rider UK (905 Tapes / Jehu & Chinaman). Visual Echoes is an album that moves within a subtle ambience, with a relaxed, contemplative style reminiscent at times of Gavin Bryars’s work. However there are some dramatic shadows and flares that lead to epic moments, revealing the influence of Steve Roach; both influences are present in tracks like Post-Earthquake Silverlake. As well as being an intensely personal statement, each carefully-sequenced side of Visual Echoesseems to be a study of the unexplored and unexplained facets of ambient music. You Do not Think In Terms Of Trainsexpresses the same initiatives but propelled by distortions and broken steps of rhythm. Other tracks (like Ovoid, which juxtaposes dynamism with stillness) work as segues, interludes and epilogues, giving Visual Echoes the flow of a cogent narrative.
NPR: Composer Olivia Block In Her Own Words