A classically-trained cellist, composer and artistic director of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), Clarice Jensen has been building up an impressive portfolio of collaborative projects over the last 15 years. Either as a solo artist, with ACME or as part of New York City’s Wordless Music Series, Clarice Jensen has performed the music of a wide range of contemporary and experimental composers often blurring the lines between classical, electronic, ambient and indie rock music.
Touring and recording extensively with bands or artists such as Stars of the Lid, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Jóhann Jóhannsson or Max Richter for instance has profoundly shaped and influenced the music of the cellist over the last decade. Based on slow melodic repetition, manipulated cello textures, tape loops and featuring three extended pieces, For This From That Will Be Filled is the musician’s long-awaited solo début and was released on 6 April 2018 last on Miasmah Recordings.
For This From That Will Be Filled was originally conceived as an audio-visual collaboration with visual artist Jonathan Turner and premiered as a live performance at The Kitchen, New York on May 17 2017 last. The “video projections” used during the performance “conjure an interior environment of unknown scale or place whose texture and design draw from domestic and commercial aesthetics, with distorted and deforming siren-like figures appearing in the void” notes the visual artist. In other words, the virtual and three-dimensional grey-scaled video installation strongly frames the music played on the album.
Based on a slow descending and looping sequence of three notes on which the cellist adds melodic scales, the magnificent opening track “bc” was written in collaboration with the late Jóhann Jóhannsson. While conserving the same pitch, the three looping notes imperceptibly slow down over the duration of the piece. Perhaps as a nod to another very influential collaboration with New-York-based avant-garde composer William Basinski, the sequence gradually starts to “disintegrate” and quaver towards the 10mn mark, eventually grinding to a halt.
The 15mn long “Cello Constellations” is a quasi-mathematical composition “scored for solo cello with 14 pre-recorded cellos and sine tones” by American pianist and composer Michael Harrison. Playing around with harmonies, frequencies, pitch, rhythm and duration, Clarice Jensen becomes both performer and conductor in a virtual orchestra via an assortment of reverb, delay and looping pedals at her feet.
The imposing centrepiece and title track of the album is a 24mn new composition divided into two parts also involving multi tracking and the electronic manipulation of cello sounds. The impressive processed waves of cello in the first part of the title-track emulate at times the sound of a pipe organ in a vast empty cathedral.
The end of the second part of “For This From That Will Be Filled” features a looping field recording of a New York Grand Central Terminal announcement stuck on “attention”. Yet, only the word “tension” is perceptible. Following a long drone introduction, the sound of the acoustic cello, the magical resonance of the strings and the entrancing vibrato of the classical instrument gradually emerge five minutes into the second part with almost cathartic effect, illustrating the fragile balance – and sometimes “tension” – between electronic and acoustic sounds throughout the album.