Olivia Block

Psychedelic compositional magic 

Who they?

Olivia Block is a Chicago composer of weighty experience and rare ability. Her startling compositions weave intricate subtlety into her powerful, emotionally ambiguous take on experimental music. A musician of some renown, she’s been quietly building a reputation as a pioneering sound artist over the last two decades, taking a distinctively interpretive approach by incorporating “site specificity” into some of the work she’s done for cinema and film, scoring segments that might depict visual phenomena like shadow or reflection.

Why Olivia Block?

With a body of work that includes sound recordings, audiovisual installations, live performances, sound design for cinema, and orchestral scores, she has also pioneered the combined use of field recordings and found materials in conjunction with chamber instruments and processed electronic textures. The results are alchemical and otherworldly yet vivid, carrying a high degree of emotive complexity and beauty with consistent distinctiveness across an already impressive discography.

Tell us more…

Her latest release, ‘Innocent Passage In The Territorial Sea’, was composed while under the influence of magic mushrooms and, ahem, post-apocalyptic fiction, which proves to be a winning marriage. Her deft hand coaxes something mystical from, among other instruments, a broken mellotron and a vintage Korg. Filmic and deeply affecting, it coalesces into an imaginery score to Anna Kavan’s surrealistic sci-fi tome ‘Ice’, which Block recently re-read. “Mentally I connected Kavan’s ice world with the isolation of lockdown,” she says, adding pointedly that the album represents “an attempt to translate my emotions about this surreal and strange historical moment into sound”. We’re yet to hear a more towering, defining statement for these particularly unexpected and disorienting days of our lives.

‘Innocent Passage In The Territorial Sea’ is out on Room40

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