Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Audrey Chen - Glacial
I totally dropped the ball yesterday. My sincerest apologies to Ada Lovelace as yesterday belonged to her and even though I knew it, I couldn't come up with anything to honor her. Thanks to zed=zee, I learned that March 24th was Ada Lovelace Day and the idea was to post something that would "draw attention to women excelling in technology" (loosely interpreting technology as music). My problem was thinking of a solo female musician that A) I was familiar enough to talk about (which eliminated Colleen) and B) didn't already have tons of exposure (which eliminated Grouper, sort of). Then I remembered I picked up one of Audrey Chen's CDs back when I saw her live collab with ID M Theftable and if there's any woman in music that's a pioneer it's Chen. So everything clicked... a day late.
So there is like zero information about Glacial on the internet. All I'm going on is what I'm hearing on the album and what I saw when she performed live. The basis of Chen's music is her cello and voice but after that, anything goes. She's taking the cello to the next level using it in ways I doubt anyone has thought of before. Like I'm pretty sure she's the first to use one of those neon 4-legged electric back massagers on the body of her cello. And while there have been plenty of people who experiment with their voice in extreme ways, Chen has a very unique "inhale screeching" that, even after seeing it in person, I'm still not convinced it's actually human. I haven't heard it elsewhere and would be able to identify it in a heartbeat.
The music on Glacial is minimal and experimental, noise but not noisey. At 20 minutes, it goes from glitchy whirlwinds to ape like whale songs all while generally creeping you the fuck out. In other words: totally boss. I think Chen's music is best experienced live but for most of you, that's unlikely to happen very often. So here's Glacial, the quick fix for your crazy cellist addiction.