Olivia Block / Drew McDowall / Lea Bertucci

Saturday, February 10th, ISSUE presents an evening of site-responsive solo performances with composer Olivia Block, electronic artist Drew McDowall, and composer (and 2015 ISSUE Artist-In-Residence) Lea Bertucci. The evening observes each artist’s individual approach to presenting new work in ISSUE’s theater space, applying the room’s unique acoustics to inform their independent performative methods.

Olivia Block performs a new multiple speaker composition, continuing an ongoing investigation into the properties of wind and its related sounds and symbolic themes. Using a microphone and her breath, small fans, and other small objects on its surface, Block creates aural patterns and “currents” in the room, processing and moving sounds live on her laptop. At certain times, these currents, respond to the architecture and resonance of the space, swirling and flowing around the listeners in particular directions -- as in the cold or warm currents of air over the oceans. At other times, all evidence of space and built shapes are erased, as microphone distortion obscures, then reveals additional sounds -- voices, organ and piano -- buried underneath the wind, settling in various locations in the room. The resonance of the room colors the wind sounds over time, as more tones enter into the mix.

The evening also features stalwart industrial and experimental pioneer Drew McDowall presenting new works which will become the basis of an album to be released on Dais Records in the Fall of 2018, following his previous releases Collapse (2015) and Unnatural Channel (2017) with the label. For this performance, the pieces make use of a quadraphonic array and are informed by and respond to the acoustics of the space. This proves to be a focused opportunity to hear new work from McDowell, known for his crucial contributions to legendary British avant-pop act Coil, Psychic TV, and numerous collaborative and solo projects that have been foundational to the development of meditative drone and abstract sound.

In addition, for her return to ISSUE, Bertucci celebrates the release of Metal Aether, her second album on NNA Tapes (following 2017’s All That Is Solid Melts Into Air), by presenting recent works for alto saxophone and tape that appear on the record, as well as a new composition that is directly informed by the particular acoustic qualities of 22 Boerum Place.

As NNA describes, Metal Aether develops a language of extended technique for alto saxophone that is based on a spectral, psychoacoustic, and non-linguistic approach to the instrument. Much like the recordings of her previous NNA release, the work continues to explore Lea’s acute interest in the nature of acoustics and the harmonic accumulation of sound, with its four pieces having been recorded in Le Havre, France in a former military base, and in New York City, at ISSUE. With her horn, Lea produces pulsing minimalist patterns, overblown transcendent drones, and upper register squalls that envelop these spaces in waves of overtones, microtones, and psychoacoustic effects.

Olivia Block is a media artist and composer. She creates scores for orchestra and chamber groups, studio-based sound art compositions for releases and concerts, site-specific multi-speaker installations and sound design for cinema. Her compositions include field recordings, amplified objects, chamber and orchestral instruments, and electronic textures. Her current work reflects her interest in “utility” shortwave sounds, ethnographic sound, and listening practices. Feature articles about Block have been published in The Wire, NPR’s Morning Edition, MusicWorks, The Outdoor (Pitchfork), The Chicago Reader, Fluid Radio, and many others. Block tours internationally and resides in Chicago, IL. Her latest LP release, Dissolution, is currently published on Glistening Examples. “Finely nuanced textures of environmental material and occasional surges of sonic power blended with an elegant instrumental architecture.”-- Julian Cowley, The Wire magazine

Scottish born, Brooklyn-based electronic artist Drew McDowall was born and raised in Paisley, an area just outside of Glasgow, and came of age during a time when the city was one of the most dangerous places in the world. Caught up in the prevalent gang culture of Scotland’s destroyed industrial cityscape, McDowall found a way out of the daily violence as punk took hold of the UK’s disenchanted youth. In 1978, he formed the lo-fi post-punk band, The Poems, with then wife, Rose McDowall, who would later rise to mainstream acclaim as one half of Strawberry Switchblade. During the tumultuous 1980’s, McDowall found himself in the ranks of P-Orridge’s Psychic TV collective and collaborating with the arcane occult duo comprised of former Throbbing Gristle creator Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson and the enigmatic John Balance who had been creating esoteric and progressive electronic music under the banner of Coil. It was during these formative collaborations with Coil that McDowall saw himself shift from occasional contributor to austere full-time member. McDowall’s impact on the band’s sound was immediate, and apparent, as the releases transformed from their previous avant-pop signature to a more complex and methodic electronic imprint accompanied by even more abstruse subject matter and abstract formulations than previous years. McDowell was instrumental in the creation of Time Machines, of top the most influential drone works of the last 20 years would continue honing his compositional skills with Coil until the bands two most lauded albums, “Astral Disaster” and “Music to Play in the Dark” at which point he left the project and his native home to relocate to the United States.

For the last 17 years Drew McDowall has lived in New York City and found a welcoming home in the city’s experimental music community. In 2011, alongside his friend and collaborator, Tres Warren (Psychic Ills), McDowall found himself exploring his passion of meditative drone and abstract sound patterns in their project Compound Eye. He has collaborated with Croatian Amor, Varg, Puce Mary, Marshstepper and many others. Outside of his collaborative duties, McDowall formed an audience as a solo artist, playing countless performances and showcases around New York’s electronic music venues and festivals. Drew McDowall released his debut solo album entitled Collapse on Dais Records in September 2015 and has subsequently toured the United States and Europe. With Unnatural Channel, released on Dais Records in May 2017, using his signature ambient ebb and flow coupled with patterns of fibrous metallic waveforms and reverberated percussions that have been pulled and spun around the spectrum he continues to dissect subterranean themes and explore how to comprehend and subsequently engage with the contemporary world that emerges from the disintegration of various mental, physical, and emotional terrain.

Lea Bertucci is an American composer and performer whose work describes relationships between acoustic phenomena and biological resonance. In addition to her instrumental practice, (alto saxophone and bass clarinet), her work often incorporates multi-channel speaker arrays, electroacoustic feedback, extended instrumental technique and tape collage. Deeply experimental, her work is unafraid to subvert musical expectation. Her discography includes a number of solo and collaborative releases on independent labels in the US and Europe, including I Dischi Del Barone, Obsolete Units, Telegraph Harp and Clandestine Compositions. In 2017, she released All That is Solid Melts Into Air: Works for Strings, on NNA Tapes. She has performed extensively across the US and Europe at venues such as The Kitchen, PS1 MoMA, The Drawing Center, Anthology Film Archives, Abrons Arts, The Walker Museum, Madison Square Park, ISSUE Project Room, Pioneer Works, The Queens Museum, Artists’ Space, Caramoor, The High Zero Festival, and Experimental Intermedia, among many others. She is a 2016 MacDowell Fellow in composition and a 2015 ISSUE Project Room Artist-in-Residence.