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Block, Olivia

Dissolution [VINYL + DOWNLOAD]

Block, Olivia : Dissolution [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (Glistening Examples)

Sound explorer Olivia Block reflects upon human "webs of significance" and the way electronic communication and recording technologies both improve and complicate those webs, in a remarkably detailed set of layered recordings contrasting clear and fragmented sound.

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product information:

Dissolution comes housed in a single-pocket jacket with glossy UV coating and black poly-lined inner sleeves with a 12x12" vellum insert. Includes download card.

UPC: 659696423114

Label: Glistening Examples
Catalog ID: GLEX 1603LP
Squidco Product Code: 23247

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2016
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
Recorded at Experimental Sound Studio, in Chicago Illinois, in January, 2015, by Alex Inglesian.


Olivia Block-composer, performer

Lesley Swanson-flute

Shaun Flynn-clarinet

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track listing:


1. Dissolution 17:06


1. Dissolution 14:14
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descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Dissolution is a reflection upon human 'webs of significance', and an investigation into the ways that electronic communications and recording technologies, both past and present, facilitate, complicate and transmute the formation of these webs. Sounds of shortwave radio, municipal broadcast recordings, fragments of found microcassette tapes, tones and instruments dramatize the fragility and failures of communication and language in shaping memory and experience. This album is dedicated to Adam Sonderberg, without whom I could not have completed this project."-"Olivia Block

"For a while it seemed like Olivia Block had settled into a method, even if her results were wildly unpredictable. But since her remarkable series of recordings for Cut about a decade ago, Block has gone to a number of new places. This release exemplifies this restless, relentlessly probing music development. It's bewitching, perplexing, and leaves a deeper impression with each listen.

You don't have to read the accompanying promotion to figure out rather quickly what themes are compelling Block. She's interested in fragmentary sound and density as conditions of contemporary human cultures, and what losses might ensue from this ubiquity. What's impressive, though, is that she explores this subtly, without didacticism, and, for all that is strange about this music, bids the listener to feel the resonance of these concerns through the sounds themselves.

The release is made up of two LP sides (though there's a third track if you cop the digital version). The first half of the piece reveals itself through little blurts and fragments of noise, radio static and tape-mangled voices. Immediately you get the sense, as with much of Marc Baron's recent work, that the relationship between foreground and background is crucial for block, as each element is framed (or, if you prefer, opposed) by all manner of signal distortion - flinty and skittering here, guttural there. The effect of all these details is ever changing, and relies heavily on your own perception and description (this being part of the point of meditating on the broader dissolution), from mangled magnetic tape to distorted metallophones to mass transport announcement system. With all the muffled, buried, and layered voices, I'm sometimes tempted to compare Block's work to Graham Lambkin, with whom she shares a similar sense of mischief. The waves of activity cool down, and the music expands into a deep resonant space, like some alien sheet metal factory framing a vibrating cell phone and sonar, backed by the high whine of feedback.

There's much to mull over here in terms of metaphor: the lonely outpost, the distant signal we can't quite identify. But the music satisfies on an immediate gut level too. I found this to be even more the case on the second of Dissolution's two main tracks. As it moves from its opening waves of hiss and multilingual phone operators to discordance and tongues of Babel, there seems to be some presence in the system that Block is documenting in her concern with technology, language, fraying connections and lost signals. As you get the sense of drifting, every so often the very lost-ness overwhelms things - for just when some musical element teases with the possibility of binding things together, it's this very thing that obscures the individual voices we strain to hear. Block hits us with an array of weird, unexpected effects: rubbed glass over human voices, the sound of a pistol using a digital piano for target practice, and then the soft sounds of someone cleaning up after dinner, a couple rooms away in that dilapidated house pictured on Dissolution's cover.

And then there's that bewitching final track (not on the LP), "May 31, 2016," where Block goes even further into nearly total silence. Though it's longer than either of the key tracks, it's far sparser. Only towards the end is there a brief, dense flare in an otherwise bleak course with only soft playback crackle, wobbly radio whine, and deep sonar pinging. It's lonely as hell out here, isn't it?"-Jason Bivins, Dusted Magazine

Dissolution comes housed in a single-pocket jacket with glossy UV coating and black poly-lined inner sleeves with a 12x12" vellum insert. Includes download card.

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