Anne Guthrie

Anne Guthrie is an acoustician, composer, and French horn player living in Brooklyn. She studied music performance and composition at University of Iowa, and architectural acoustics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her work in electronic music combines her knowledge of acoustics and composition to create layered works of processed field recordings. Her work centers around recordings of urban spaces with unique acoustic architecture, and her processing attempts to exploit these natural acoustic phenomena.

Anne Guthrie
Perhaps a Favourable Organic Moment (Copy For Your Records, 2011)

Picked up on a little buzz surrounding this young sound artist lately, particularly from a rather favourable review in the Wire's Outer Limits section. I don't remember that review giving any mention of Guthrie as a French Horn player, and although it says so right there in her bio, I wasn't expecting it to make an appearance (at least not such a recognizable appearance) here. However, about four minutes into the opening recording of one of Guthrie's urban spaces, the French Horn makes its presence known, transforming the subtle sonic space into something much more overt. The horn emits a lackadaisical tune for five minutes or so, as if played by a busker in the late afternoon on some sunny European boulevard. I'm still scratching my head about this first piece, and ultimately I think the album would have probably faired better without the horn passage.

The rest of the album shines brightly, the second track seeing a much subtler processed approach to the horn, along with layered-in bells and varying harmonics. The third track, entitled Times Center, NYC 2010, is a field recording that remarkably captures the depth of the recorded space. Hundreds of overlapping voices and an array of electronic bleeps and sputters present themselves in numerous depth ranges, so as combined, they sound as if occupying the entire field. Annie Laurie, parts i & ii, conclude the album, the former is a haunting piece for windswept drone and ghostly voice while the latter is an a cappella version of Annie Laurie (I presume), being sung in another of Guthrie's "unique" acoustical spaces.


Olivia Block

Olivia Block is a contemporary composer and sound artist who combines field recordings, scored segments for acoustic instruments, and electronically generated sound. Block works with recorded media, chamber ensembles, video, and site-specific sound installations.

She has performed throughout Europe, America, and Japan in tours and festivals including Sonic Light, Dissonanze, Archipel, Angelica, Sunoni per il Popolo, Outer Ear, and many others. Her works have premiered at La Biennale di Venezia 52nd International Festival of Contemporary Music, and she has completed residencies and premiered works at Mills College of Music and The Berklee College of Music. She has taught master classes at several additional universities.

Block has published recordings through Sedimental, either/OAR, and Cut, among other labels.

Olivia Block & Kyle Bruckmann
Teem (either/OAR, 2010)

I've come to recognize the name Olivia Block, but Bruckmann's is a name I'm not at all familiar with. It turns out that much like Block, Bruckmann's musical standing came to fruition through an academic stream. He studied Oboe and earned undergrad degrees in music and psychology at Rice University in Houston. In '96 he earned his Masters at Michigan U where he became very interested in contemporary improv, electroacoustics and avant-garde composition. He composed this album with Block between 2003-2008.

Teem is in fact teeming with life. The aptness of Block and Bruckmann's title rings true from the onset of the opening track, fading in quickly before steadily growing into a barrage of dissonant horns, droning reed organ and teeth-on-tinfoil static. I was rather surprised by the overtness of this track, along with its unmistakably chaotic free-jazz feel, though have grown to
appreciate its unique take on the style and have embraced its chaos. On the other hand, the remainder of the pieces are easier to fall into, lulling the listener through a steady flux of drones, improv segments, and mixed in field recordings tinged with an industrial starkness–an obvious exception being the beginning of the second movement, a nearly two minute Gamelan infused blast of free-tonal noise that's sure to improve posture (see sound sample).

There exists a remarkable ebb and flow to this album, from the teetering point between clatter and out-of-control noise to sublime moments of fluttering ambience. Far more 'active' than much of the music I like, albeit a refreshing and welcome change in the routine of daily listening. Lovely packaging design by Dale Lloyd and equally lovely drawings by Kate Atkin.


The Outsider 3 | Women in Music: An Eight Part Series. Part One- i8u

The Outsider is an on-going feature that pertains to ever changing themes within the world of sound art. More specifically, it highlights micro-niches within this world, commonalities through place and style, organizations that facilitate sound practice, important sound documents, etc...Hence, the Outsider pertains to anything outside of a typical album review. Previous Outsiders have included Select Music From Australia and the Framework 250 Compilation ++.

As the title suggests, May and June will see the unfolding of an eight part series dedicated to women working in varied fields of experimental music as both curators and musicians. Over the three years of managing this blog I've rather embarrassingly, though unintentionally,overlooked much of the fine work produced by talented females across the globe. Let this feature make up for those years of neglect. The format for the series is such that each artist is given their own post featuring a photograph, a pre-existing bio, and a review of a select work.

France Jobin aka i8u

Abbreviated artist's bio:
France Jobin aka i8u (b. 1958) is a sound / installation / web artist et curator residing in Montreal, Canada. i8u’s audio art can be qualified as “sound-sculpture”. It reveals powerful, opaque and complex sound environments where analog and digital meet. Her installation/web art can be said to follow a parallel path, incorporating both musical and visual elements.

i8u has created solo recordings for ROOM40 (AUS), nvo (AT), DER (USA), bake/staalplaat (NL) as well as many collaborations notably with Goem, Martin Tétreault, David Kristian and more recently with Tomas Phillips. Their work is featured on the album “ligne” released on the Japanese label, ATAK. She produced compilations tracks for ATAK (JP), bremsstrahlung (USA), Mutek (CA), murmur records (JP), and/oar (USA), tsuku boshi (FR), Contour Editions (USA), Extract, Portraits of Soundartists (book + 2 cd) on the label nonvisualobjects (AT).

29 Palms (Dragon's Eye Recordings, 2010)

I was initially introduced to Jobin's work under the i8u guise from her contribution to the magnificent Physical, Absent, Tangible compilation released on Richard Garet's own Contour Editions label (read my review). Expanding greatly on that comp track, 29 Palms is a 41 minute piece for field recordings, processing and analog gear that remains true to the austerity of past i8u releases yet feels more of an organic effort. The effervescent drones that fill in the space between Jobin's clinical frequencies during the latter half of the composition are especially note worthy, reminiscent of John Duncan's Phantom Broadcast. Very nice.

Jobin's pacing remains quite brilliant throughout, especially evident in the very quiet midsection, where one has to remain focused to discern for changes, and although subtle, they are there. The choice to opt for more lower range frequencies as opposed to ear splitting highs – highs that I've heard Jobin achieve in the past – works to her advantage here. Some of those high frequencies make themselves known though are rarely at the center of attention, existing more as appendages to a wider body of sound. Simple yet elegant packaging, edition of 200.

i8u - 29 Palms (excerpt) by ScrapyardForecast