Shelter Press / France / 2022
When words trail off at the beginning of claire rousay’s “everything perfect is already here,” ornate instrumentation is waiting to fill a void left by the breakdown of language. Yet it becomes clear as we trace rousay’s collaged sonic pathway that breakdown, of meaning and also of melody, is also a place to rest. everything perfect… is made up of two extended compositions that cycle between familiarity and unknowing. There are seemingly infinite ways to feel in response to these pieces of music, which shift tone across their languid duration, earnest like a familiar song but unbound from the emotional didacticisms of lyrical voice and pop form.
rousay builds a fluid landscape around the acoustic contributions of Alex Cunningham (violin), Mari Maurice (electronics and violin), Marilu Donovan (harp), and Theodore Cale Schafer (piano), whose respective melodies weave gently in and out, sometimes steady, sometimes aching, sometimes receding altogether in deference to less overtly musical sounds. That is, percussive texture in the form of unvarnished samples and field recordings: the rattle and rustle and the stops and starts of life unfurling, voices sharing memories nearly out of reach, doors closing, wind against a microphone. Everything comes from somewhere in particular, possessing the veneer of the diaristic, but sound’s provenance is secondary here and so these details become tangled and fused. On this release I hear such details not as individual ornaments or stories but the collective architecture of the greater composition. It’s an architecture that is not quite formed and thus full of openings out to the world unfolding.
“The world unfolding,” that’s a kind way of saying change, movement, loss, transformation. Things rousay here indexes, not without shards of desire or pain, still somehow what I hear is coarse peace in the in-between. These two pieces sweep you away and then bring you to earth, but which is which, anyway? Where am I now? What is different outside of me? What is different inside of me? Um. I think. everything is perfect is already here, like the answers to these questions, is loose and beautiful in surprising ways.
The music guides a certain experience of the world around. In claire’s music there is this marriage—not just a pairing or juxtaposition but an interrelationship, an eventual confusion—of song/texture, narrative/abstraction, figure/ground. Everything comes from somewhere in particular but not just the voices, the field recordings, the what is being said or meant, what matters is “the where you are now.” There are so many ways of anchoring oneself in the present, some have to do with fantasy or storytelling and some with accepting what is.
These two compositions find peace between these modes. They sweep you away and then bring you to earth, but which is which, anyway? Their mode of feeling is inquisitive. Where am I now? What has changed outside of me? What has changed inside of me? The music, like the answers to these questions, is loose and beautiful in surprising ways.