Julia Holter joins forces with the Chicago sound artist Olivia Block for a new work exploring sounds of nature | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Julia Holter joins forces with the Chicago sound artist Olivia Block for a new work exploring sounds of nature


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Last year LA singer and composer Julia Holter underlined her stunning development as an art-pop auteur, matching her ethereal melodic sensibility with small-scale orchestrations on her live-in-the-studio album In the Same Room (Domino). The collection featured deft reinventions of songs from her previous two recordings, with new arrangements that completely refresh some of the material. With Holter’s focus on sophisticated pop songs it’s been easy to forget that she has a strong background in more experimental composition; she studied under Michael Pisaro at CalArts and possesses a sharp post-Cagean creativity she now mostly deploys in her collaborations with others, such as the suite of songs written by Chicagoan Alex Temple that she performed with Spektral Quartet a few years ago. This weekend Holter will premiere her collaborative project with Chicago sound artist and composer Olivia Block, and since much of their material will be forged during the weekend leading up to this concert, the details are scant. Their piece, Whenever the Breeze, employs text from “Whenever the Breeze Blows,” the madrigal that inpires its name, along with snippets of contemporary weather-related news reports. It promises to blend Holter’s lovely voice (sparingly processed by Block) with organ, live electronics, field recordings of water and wind, and bells and crotales played live by percussionist Tim Daisy. Bass clarinetist Jason Stein will also be in the performing ensemble.   v

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