Review: Claire Rousay – Several Erasures (Already Dead Tapes, Apr 19)

Sometimes, the distance at which an artistic approach is separated from the emotions or issues it attempts to an examine is just as significant of a contributor to the art’s impact as the art itself. For Claire Rousay, who explores complex, personal ideas about queerness and relationships through her abstract percussion improvisation, this distance is often present. When you first encounter her work, it may be difficult to imagine how the rattles, taps, bounces, and scrapes of the multitude of objects she uses are able to communicate anything intimately emotional. But close attention paid to works such as Several Erasures reveals the poignant intricacies of Rousay’s music and the things she injects into it. These well-recorded improvisations progress with an ever-present sense of purpose, as Rousay utilizes recurring motifs and gradually transforming cells of sound to evolve sparse, tactile worlds into something much more. “Clocked” presents a sublime use of space and silence, with organic rustles and soft clicks surrounding a centralized, rotating sweep, the placement introducing unexpected feelings of isolation; here, a new dimension of separation is layered atop the aforementioned. “Shadow” and “For Jacob” use repeating bell-like resonances to ground their expanding presence, teasingly treading on the verge of cacophony but never actually abandoning their tight control. Rousay’s unflinching command of her materials is awe-inspiring; I doubt she’d be able to evoke these things so clearly otherwise.

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