OLIVIA BLOCK: Mobius Fuse
sedcd031 | Released in 2001 | 1000 copies | $10
Sedimentalís release of the second cd from Chicago based electro-acoustic composer Olivia Block titled Mobius Fuse. This much anticipated follow up to her critically acclaimed debut Pure Gaze(sed cd028) continues her rich and unique exploration of both acoustic and electronic sounds reaching a depth and level of emotional intensity rarely heard in the field.
Olivia Block is a contemporary composer who combines field recordings, scored segments for acoustic instruments, and electronically generated sound. Her recorded work seeks to introduce, set at play, and ultimately reconcile nature with artifice in the realms of music and sound. In the process, "organic" sound becomes subtly processed, digitized and abstracted; "inorganic" sound becomes self-replicating and animate; and "musical" elements such as chamber instruments are de familiarized from their traditional associations, freeing them to participate in the larger aesthetic possibilities of sound. Her pieces are composed over long periods of time in numerous stages. She often prepares elaborate tape installations in natural sites for field recording sessions which she later integrates into her recorded compositions. In live performance, Block introduces additional elements of paradox and tension: chamber musicians perform scores which accompany pre-prepared tape material, and improvisers (often including herself) interact with "lo-fi" speaker installations and digital recordings.
Since its release, her debut solo release, Pure Gaze(Sedimental, 1998) has been consistently included on radio play lists throughout America and Europe. It was included in Blow-Up magazine's "Top Releases" of 1999 and The Wire magazine's top ten section, "Charts"; and Julian Cowley, in the latter publication, described her as "a composer who demands serious attention." Another of her works, Piece for Scrubbing Tile, was featured in the Modern Museum of Lyon, France in 1998, as part of the Collage Jukebox installation and festival (curator: Jerome Joy). Her recorded works have been used as source material recently by Achim Wollscheid, in his Shifts release (Ritornell/Evolution). Her soundtrack work for Natalia Castro's short video piece, Fire-Fly, helped earn the project the undergraduate video award at the School for the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997. She has recorded with such artists as Jim O'Rourke and Jeb Bishop, and has performed with artists including Pauline Oliveros and Fred Lonberg-Holm. Her radio appearances include WKCR's Live Constructions (Columbia University), WLUW's Something Else (Loyola University), and others. She was a visiting lecturer at DePaul University. She has toured extensively in Japan and has Europe.Olivia Block is self-taught. She started her musical career in Austin, Texas, in the experimental rock scene in which she played electric guitar and trumpet, sang, and created abstract tapes for play during live performances in several bands. Such tape work led her to her next trio, Alial Straa, an electro-acoustic and improvisational group including Seth Nehil ("Tracing the Skins of Clouds," Kaon records), and John Grznich ("Stomach of the sky," Staalplaat; "Absurd Evidence," Bobby J.) Alial Straa's CD, "Tunnels/Stairwell" is currently out on Alluvial records.
some press clips:
Texas-based composer Olivia Block followed up her gorgeous debut recording, Pure Gaze, with an equally compelling release, travelling further down a similar path but finding several new, unexplored byways. Once again her field recordings form the basic matrix of her work, a framework on which to pin surprising instrumental structures. Here, the first and longest piece begins with the sound of distant fireworks approaching and receding, eventually exploding right above the listener. As on the prior album, Block appears drawn to long, lush organ-like chords, and they emerge suddenly and ravishingly midway through the composition. It fades in and out of near silence (complete with crickets) before the fireworks, sonically shrunken to the size of popcorn, reappear en masse, or is it the pelting of hail or perhaps overlaid cracklings of shattering ice? Whatever the source, the effect is magical and somewhat alien, the ambient sounds one might expect to hear on a moon of Saturn and slowly rumble off into the distance. The short closing piece is something else entirely. Though the familiar fireworks still lurk in the background, center stage is taken by a wind quintet performing a hymn-like song as though playing to a small crowd at the park gazebo. Beguiling, unpredictable, and unusually lovely, Mobius Fuse comes highly recommended. ~ Brian Olewnick, All Music Guide