Olivia Block (USA, 1970), originally a rock guitarist and vocalist in Austin (Texas),
and later a member of Alial Straa with Seth Nehil and John Grzinich, as documented on Tunnels/Stairwell (Orogenetics, 1997 - Alluvial, 2000),
relocated to Chicago in 1996 and embraced electronic music.
Already the creator of a
video soundtrack Fire-Fly (1997) and a Piece for Scrubbing Tile (1998),
her first major achievement was a trilogy started with
Pure Gaze (Sedimental, 1998) that fused
acoustic chamber music (Jeb Bishop and Mark Fry on trombone, Kyle Bruckmann on English horn, two clarinetists),
droning minimalism (notably Ellen Fullman),
glitch music, abstract soundscaping and computer-manipulated field recordings.
The second part of the trilogy, Mobius Fuse (2001), emphasized the
"realistic" sounds, i.e. field recordings. There are two moments of
tension in the 29-minute Mobius 1: a crescendo of crackling and tumbling noises, and a sequence of loud and sharp drones, each bookended by tranquil
sounds of the forest. The brief Mobius 2 is a duet between a horn fanfare
The third part, Change Ringing (Cut, 2005), emphasized the acoustic
Jeb Bishop (trombone), Kyle Bruckmann (oboe) and Bhob Rainey (soprano
All three constructed dramatic symphonies of reverbs, pulses, drones and glitches.
Heave To (2006) emphasized dynamics with a seamless but also visceral blend of wildly manipulated field recordings and chamber instruments (notably the strings, with Block on cello, Jonathan Chen on violin and Jen-Claire Paulsen on viola).
Resolution (august 2010) documents
a collaboration between Greg Kelley and Olivia Block.
Teem (Either/OAR, 2010) documents a collaboration with
San Francisco-based musician Kyle Bruckmann.
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