Olivia Block Welcomes the Eclipse

With an archival piece recorded for the NNA label

The slowly rising, cicadas-in-heat, increasingly crunchy, white-noise opening of Olivia Block’s “Aberration of Light” sets the stage for the 30-minute sonic experience that follows. Originally released on the NNA label back in 2015, the piece was posted by Block on her SoundCloud page today, timed to the solar eclipse. The music originated earlier still, back in 2011, as a four-speaker installation. The white noise ebbs and flows as the piece proceeds, enhanced by, per the NNA writeup, a modest but grounding horn section comprised of James Falzone (clarinet) and Jason Stein (bass clarinet). For some time it is riotous, and then reduced to an eerie hum, like wind across a vast prairie. At others it is richly tonal, as when those two clarinets weigh in with deep drones that eventually engage in threatening levels of fierce patterning. As it comes to its close, that sense of impending violence — whether in the void of near silence or the tension of layered drones — breaks free into full-on tumult.

More on the composition at the website of the releasing label, nnatapes.com. More from Block, who is based in Chicago, at oliviablock.net and twitter.com/oliviablock.

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