Ora Clementi, Olivia Block | Constellation | Experimental | Chicago Reader

Ora Clementi, Olivia Block 18+ Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Sun., Aug. 16, 8:30 p.m. 2015

Formed in 2013, Ora Clementi is the duo of Winnipeg sound artist and improviser Crys Cole and Melbourne-born, Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist and composer James Rushford. The eerie musique-concrete soundscapes on their sole album, last year’s Cover You Will Softer Me (Penultimate Press), are patient but not serene, evolving without clear tempo, pulse, or structure. Though they’re largely abstract in organization and vocabulary, certain sounds have tentatively identifiable sources. Among the drones, thumps, hisses, warbles, and crackles, I can hear someone playing ocarina, viola, and piano in wandering nonpatterns, an intermittent chirruping and squeaking that might be birds (Rushford’s pet chickens supposedly appear somewhere), and what sound like footfalls in dead leaves, scraping on a metal bucket, and tearing of tape or paper. Occasionally someone hums or makes popping, smacking mouth noises, and because it’s obvious what they are, your ear tells you that they’re very quiet sounds, happening alarmingly close to your head—which produces an unsettling suspense as you wait for something genuinely loud to blow off the top of your skull. (The handful of colossal grating exhalations that punctuate the first side of the album do the job nicely.) On the second side, the dominant element is manipulated, mumbled, or otherwise unintelligible speech, which often sounds like people talking backward, in their sleep, or in a language I don’t recognize—I can never make out more than a brief, disjointed phrase, and the struggle to grasp what seem to want to be words heightens the tension in the music. Also on the bill is Chicago composer Olivia Block, who just released a half-hour cassette of her 2011 composition Aberration of Light via NNA Tapes; she’ll present a four-channel version of the piece in the dark.

Philip Montoro

Price: $12

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