Best Experimental Album

Olivia Block & Greg Kelley, Resolution

Critics' Picks

Chicago sound artist Olivia Block tends to make intricately detailed music that collides field recordings with live instrumentation in unexpected ways, but she outdid herself on Resolution (Erstwhile), a collaboration with Boston trumpeter and noise maestro Greg Kelley, creating her most surprising and disorienting piece yet. Using extensive and meticulous post­production work, she surrounded Kelley's mix of breath sounds, sibilance, and brittle smears with ingeniously manipulated collages drawn from a variety of sources: room ambience, the sound of a cassette tape being played, field recordings made at a garbage-processing and recycling facility, even layers of unidentifiable noises she produced from the innards of a piano. The album's form is something like a suite, with a series of movements that close around and recede from Kelley's utterances, and the overall effect is that of a wordless narrative that's carrying you toward a destination you can't figure out—the best thing to do is enjoy the richness of detail along the way.