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coverpic flag US - Texas - Full Moon 31 - 04/30/99

Olivia Block
Pure Gaze

First solo release from Ms. Block, which is the culmination of at least four years of sound collecting, processing, and reconfiguring. The only previous work I can recall of hers was years ago in the Austin band, The Marble Index. And Pure Gaze is much further along the way in terms of its emphasis on sound patterns and textures.

Now residing in Chicago, Olivia Block goes one step beyond the work of peers such as ERG, Mnortham and Jgrzinich, and Seth Nehil (helping with the capture of certain sounds), who opt instead to focus more on the rough and textural sounds of nature and natural objects, mostly in an unprocessed and unadulterated form. But Ms. Block is not afraid to manipulate the field sounds through her sampler, cutting them up and bending them at will, ultimately reweaving them with 'straight' instruments such as trombone, clarinet, piano, oboe, and English horn. The juxtaposition of thunder, crickets, eternal piano plunk, fearful clawing and digital glitching one on top of the other is quite exhilarating and refreshing after some more austere electro-acoustic releases of late. Never does the dogma cloud the final sound clouds here.

And when the more abstract sounds drift apart, the reed quartet work is revealed, structurally sound, with vinyl crunching and whirs providing subtle bedding for their more tone-oriented note clusters. It is not only because of the presence of Jeb Bishop that the mid-point of the CD recalls the sustained horn work of Gastr del Sol's Harp Factory on Lake St. a few years back. Or in a more pastoral state, Urban Sax in a field with Markus Popp lazily on his back, listening to the grass shudder and the river grow, the sky purple and perfect above.

Contact: Olivia Block at 1738 W. Huron Chicago, IL 60622 USA
Sedimental, PO Box 4144 Austin, TX 78765 USA

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