Several Erasures by Claire Rousay

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Claire Rousay | Several Erasures
Already Dead Tapes and Records (CS/DL)

Several Erasures is the new tape (already sold out, save for the dl) from Texan percussionist Claire Rousay with a run-time of about thirty-six minutes over four tracks. About the recording, Rousay says it “explores queerness, human relationships, and self perception through the use of physical objects and their potential sounds“. This is her eighth release in just two years, plus she’s been involved in other interesting collaborative projects.

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This set opens with Clocked, and from the start you understand the way in which she is building a certain atmosphere that requires attention as tiny assorted objects are dropped, stroked, paying special attention to the surfaces they are extended upon. There is no beat or rhythm, instead a delicate sensitivity to the lowercase actions taking place. Over the years I’ve heard many dabble in this world of minimalist concrete music, people like Olivia Block, Seth Nehil, Dan Burke, and others – but Rousay has her focus primarily on the percussive qualities here with crunching (candy wrappers?), and other toys and bells. She flexes both slowly and with rapid intent given these improvised behaviors, which will keep all ears active throughout.

Rousay employs her drumkit and all its accessories, but deviates from any typical approach to the instrument, she seems to be drawing lines with her sticks on every surface (heads and hoops) on Shadow. There are hollows and silences, and squirming, cutting sounds – but she’s offering the polar opposite of the wielding of say Einstürzende Neubauten or Han Bennink, with a much more intimate plan of attack. That’s not to say this doesn’t have its more ferocious side, even at fair volume, but her collected chaos goes outside the edge as much as the aforementioned, pushing the envelope all the way.

Now we get to the title track, a quite interesting title, too – Several Erasures. It is as if she’s sanding away a surface, removing something, maybe to erase markings, maybe to reveal it’s former glory? With each succession of rubbing it begins to sound like a belly dancer in slow-motion, with added metallic tinkering, and a sudden stoppage. There’s some odd satisfaction in the balance between the steel wool effects and the clanging that together begin to imitate a locomotive. All aboard!

Lastly, For Jacob, the lengthiest piece here at eleven and a half minutes, is like rain on a tin roof at first. And with a lil’ reverie starts to sound like a toy propeller, or a post-jazz outtake of some sort. Minimal, with lots of breath, Rousay is in no hurry here. She continues with some of the earlier snap, crackle and pop, but manages to add the reverb resonance of a gong or cymbal – that sounds like a tuning fork in the way it floats in air space. Very effective. Here we have the musician at her most vulnerable and sonic – all at the same time. It’s a righteous end to a bright lil’ gem of abstractions.

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