Olivia Block preps new album 132 Ranks for Room40, shares excerpt

Olivia Block preps new album 132 Ranks for Room40, shares excerpt
Photo: Alex Inglizian (courtesy of ESS)

So, earlier today, the salesman at the hi-fi shop leans toward me and says:

“Wait til you hear this. This one will really show you what this system can do. It’s called 132 Ranks by American composer and media artist Olivia Block, and it’s a doozy. Maybe you’ve heard it used for worship once or twice before, but here, the pipe organ becomes the center of worship and the source of life. As Block says, ‘Like a living body, the organ circulates vital sound-breaths throughout the chapel.’

“Well, you can’t take the organ (E.M. Skinner’s Opus 634) out of the body (Rockefeller Memorial Chapel), but what you can do is take this recording of the organ in the body and play it on some exceptional stereo system such as the one you see here before you.

“From the highest high to the lowest low, long form, long tones, clusters, dynamics, 132 ranks, 8,565 pipes. While Block plays the Skinner Organ — for which the piece was specifically composed — six speakers in the side aisles play pre-recorded sounds. The audience members add incidental footsteps, coughs, and shuffle to the participatory hybrid concert/sound installation. Like the Rothko Chapel, there’s a healthy amount of room for the listener to find meaning in the experience.”

Wow. That’s some doozy of a salespitch, right? Needless to say, I was pretty sold. So I did some digging around and found out that, back on April 21, 2017, Block performed 132 Ranks on a commission for LAMPO and Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. And on September 7, Room40 will release 132 Ranks on both CD and digital formats. Head here to pre-order it, and help yourself to a free sample down below:

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