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Magisterial, psilocybic stuff from Windy City electro-acoustic explorer Olivia Block, returning to Room40 with a filmic new album inspired by mushy trips during lockdown. "During the lockdown, unable to do anything in the world, I turned inward, adopting a regular practice of listening with intention while on psychedelic mushrooms. The mushrooms helped me to listen somatically, pulling my ears towards low tonal patterns and the warped sounds of a broken Mellotron I had recorded earlier. I started playing in my studio, creating bass-driven pieces on my vintage Korg synth organ, using a very limited tonal palette. The pandemic seemed like a strange dream or a surrealistic science fiction story. As a thought-exercise, I imagined this moment as a film; a mental lens through which I could conceive of this pandemic and all of the complex factors which converged to make it happen. I approached this music as the soundtrack to this speculative science fiction film, an attempt to translate my emotions."
Using the warped tonal colour of a broken Mellotron synth, Olivia was drawn to its low end possibilities which underline and propel the album from its elegant lift off ‘Axiolite’ across the oceanic ‘Laika’ to really take flight with heart-in-mouth sensation on the Alessandro Cortini- esque grandeur of ‘Great Northern, 34428’, and with Eleh-like thrum nagged by icicular patterns in ‘En Echelon’. The narrative takes a more blissed turn into keening new agey chamber styles like a frosty Laraaji with ‘Through Houses’ and ultimately leads up to the iridescent ice caves of the album’s 10 min climax ‘Rivers in Reverse’ where she acts as chilly fleshly conduit for the Mellotron’s off kilter voice to really sing out its strange dream.
Composed and performed by Olivia Block in 2021 on Korg CX3 organ, Organelle, tapes, field recordings and Mellotron. Mellotron was recorded at Electrical Audio, Chicago, engineered by Greg Norman. Mastering and some mixing by Tomas Korber. Great Northern, 34428 co-produced by Tomas Korber. Photographs of 35mm slides by Olivia Block.